Swiss WorldCargo Adopts Mercator’s SkyChain to Provide Unprecedented Flexibility, and the Support Needed to Develop Innovative Business Strategies with Confidence
Swiss WorldCargo is the air freight division of Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. Headquartered at Zurich Airport, Swiss WorldCargo provides a comprehensive range of high-value and care-intensive logistics solutions to around 120 destinations in over 80 countries. The extensive network of air services is supplemented by daily truck connections between key business centers. An innovative and reliable provider within the Lufthansa Group, Swiss WorldCargo is committed to continuously deliver superior quality to its customers and makes a substantial contribution to the profitability of SWISS.
Swiss WorldCargo has a formidable reputation for its high quality cargo product. However, they faced a significant challenge. Their passenger counterpart decided to migrate the airline’s reservation and departure control system from the main frame shared with the cargo reservation and operation system.
This meant significantly higher IT operating cost to be borne by the cargo division, which would now have to bear the cost of the complete mainframe infrastructure. The risk was augmented by high cost of system modifications and maintenance in the mainframe environment, which was both time consuming and costly. In addition, the cost of efforts in managing disparate satellite systems which were not interfaced with the mainframe environment led to duplication of effort, error prone data and multiple standards.
The challenge increased when Swiss WorldCargo’s hub-based ground handler announced its migration away from the cargo reservation and operation system, shared with the airline, to their own independent IT system. This meant even higher collaboration costs and new risks that could impact SWC’s high quality cargo delivery.
Swiss WorldCargo implemented "Swiss Worx", a customized version of Mercator’s comprehensive end-to-end IT cargo management system SkyChain, to replace their existing legacy platform. With most cargo carriers using systems that are ten to thirty years old, there has been a clear recent call for more flexibility. Using the latest Java technology, Swiss Worx substantially meets this demand and improves business efficiencies across the air freight life cycle. SkyChain provides a modern, flexible solution designed to meet market needs for years to come, whilst adhering to the highest possible standards. The solution was specifically designed to:
- Safeguard the airline’s unique business model
- Tightly contain its business and IT operating costs
- Establish a platform that would enable the commercial ambitions of the airline into the new era
SWISS' Chief Cargo Officer, Oliver Evans, commented, "We can look back on a smooth and seamless migration in what has been the biggest IT project in SWISS' history to date." Kicked off in January 2007, the project actually saw the involvement of over 50 IT and cargo professionals in Zurich and Dubai and the overall effort of some 7000 personnel-days.
The Mercator and Swiss WorldCaro team managed the project to successfully cutover 400+ users to SkyChain and go-live with Swiss Worx. Swiss Worx seamlessly integrates with other systems to ensure the timely availability of the information required for all commercial and operational business purposes. The new system also addresses both the current and the future needs of Swiss WorldCargo in all business areas including network-wide sales and reservations, capacity management, pricing, contribution management and (in the future) e-commerce.
"The greatest challenge facing the air cargo industry today is the integrity of data across all interfaces in the management of complex supply chains for our customers," Evans said. "With Swiss Worx, we have seized the opportunity to improve efficiency, raise quality and to streamline our processes for today's needs. Moreover we will be ready for all future changes and enhancements as the industry adapts to new challenges and the necessity to provide ever increasing value to the end customers of airfreight."
With SkyChain, Swiss WorldCargo users worked off a single comprehensive integrated system in new generation technology instead of disparate systems in legacy technology. A flexible design allowed the system to be quickly adapted to Swiss WorldCargo’s unique business model and processes.
The internal user survey of Swiss WorldCargo employees carried out months after cutover confirmed a high-level of appreciation and positive perception of the new system and its impact on day-to-day business operations. Minimizing customizations and reusing the out of the box interface frameworks of SkyChain allowed greater integration with its hub-based ground handler and helped Swiss WorldCargo retain its close collaboration requirements while assuring high quality cargo delivery to its customers.
By choosing SkyChain, Swiss WorldCargo management succeeded in significantly driving down IT and business operating costs, achieving higher levels of profitability and improving their customer service experience and safeguarding the airline’s unique business model- the SWISS business model.
The choice of a new IT platform is probably the most critical decision yet in the young history of Swiss WorldCargo. Mercator’s cargo solution has enabled us to consolidate our position at the forefront of the industry in terms of innovation and focus on the needs of specific niches. We were not looking for a supplier but for a partner, and we believe we have found a best-in-class solution with Mercator, who have a proven track record of development and implementation.
Oliver Evans Chief Cargo Officer