With 15,000 system users and over 3,000 connected forwarders, CHAMP transmits an impressive 300 million electronic exchanges and 20 million shipments annually. “Our two main business areas are management systems for handling all air cargo operations and messaging systems for air cargo handling,” says Head of Innovation Lucas Fernandez. “We currently have a market share of 25% for management systems and 50% for messaging.” A spin-off from Europe’s biggest all-cargo airline Cargolux, the company, which was created in 2004, employs around 450 people.
Harnessing the power of data
CHAMP’s systems generate enormous amounts of data. “Every time an event occurs in the supply chain – for instance, when freight is loaded onto an aircraft – a message is logged in our system,” exemplifies Mr Fernandez. In the mid-2010s, the company started working on a brand new “open cargo platform” using innovative technologies to be able to better manage and process all this data. Developed at the Luxembourg headquarters, the project benefits from European R&D funding obtained with the help of the national innovation agency, Luxinnovation.
A data lake is also under creation. “Our idea is to centralise all data entering our system in one place so that we can improve the business intelligence services we provide to our clients. Benefiting from the ‘Luxembourg effect’ of a close-knit business community, we are working together with the local Microsoft office that is very supportive of our business.”
We are exploring machine learning in the field of customs management, for example to automate the labelling and declaration of goods for our customers.
Over the past three years, the work to transform the data collected has intensified. “We are exploring machine learning in the field of customs management, for example to automate the labelling and declaration of goods for our customers,” explains Mr Fernandez. “We use artificial intelligence to recognise the type of goods concerned and to guide users through the procedures.”
Poor data quality sometimes blocks the supply chain automation. Machine learning is deployed to extract and clean up data from the huge quantities of paperwork that is still used in the cargo industry and digitise it as soon as it enters the supply chain. The solutions that CHAMP is currently developing will come to market soon.
Open for cooperation
CHAMP has an open innovation approach and works both with start-ups and academic institutions. A cooperation with the University of Luxembourg’s Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management, aimed at finding new ways to explore and treat data, is under discussion. A team of students from the Luxembourg branch of Sacred Heart University also works with the company each year to analyse how the available data could be used to create new products.
One of the big advantages of being in Luxembourg is the support the government provides to companies, offering better and more dynamic resources to help businesses like CHAMP succeed.
“Our open attitude, which also extends to other IT solutions, makes us stand out from our competitors,” confirms Mr Fernandez. “We offer a range of APIs in order to help our customers better interconnect their IT systems. This enables stakeholders to make direct connections using their existing systems so that data can flow seamlessly across the air cargo supply chain.”
He welcomes Luxembourg’s investments into the data economy, such as the newly launched high performance computer. “This creates opportunities, and I’m right now exploring ideas for how we could benefit from it. One of the big advantages of being in Luxembourg is the support the government provides to companies, offering better and more dynamic resources to help businesses like CHAMP succeed. The government works to establish ecosystems including all the necessary elements for creating new products. This generates meaningful new business.”
Photo: © Luxinnovation/Marion Dessard