Employee Story • 26.04.2023

Introducing the young air cargo team

Development successes clearly visible

The Air Cargo Community System FAIR@Link, with over 1,000 participating companies, is the hub for digitalized air cargo handling at Frankfurt Airport. A team of 10 colleagues is responsible for the operation and continuing development of FAIR@Link and the INFr8 dangerous goods platform.

"During the past three years, we have grown considerably in terms of personnel," reports Anne Ebeling. The industrial engineering graduate has supported both platforms – FAIR@Link and INFr8 – as project manager from the very beginning and has been head of the air freight team for the last three years. Her management style is characterized by committed, dynamic and equality-based cooperation.

The youngest developer on the team is Lorenz. The 20-year-old successfully completed his work-study degree in business informatics in mid-March and is now a full-time developer. In his thesis, "Optimizing the User Experience in the Import Area of the Cargo Communication System Fair@Link," he analyzed the air cargo import process for its user-friendliness. His observations on how to make the platform more intuitive and appealing for the future have been well received by the team. "We are now progressing on our work using this input," Anne says, as if it were the natural thing to do.

Many paths lead to a team

Similarly, Thilo completed a combined work-study degree program at DAKOSY. While working as a full-time Java developer, he then completed a master's degree at the Nordakademie for IT Management and Business Informatics, which he finished in September 2022. Tim has also followed a similar career path. However, the 28-year-old first started his training as an application developer and has been working as a full-time developer ever since, while last year he began his studies towards a master's degree in business informatics via distance learning at the University of Hagen.

Anne both encourages and inspires her young team. In her view, having the perfect qualifications isn't nearly as important as enjoying the challenges, being curious, and having a strong desire to keep learning. It quickly becomes clear in the day-to-day work whether someone is the right fit. She was fortunate to recruit two career changers for the team, Judith and Nino. Judith had studied marketing before switching to a dual degree program in business informatics, and Nino, currently doing a work-study program, had already completed a law degree before deciding to tackle a second degree in software systems development.

High level of responsibility for IT operations

The tasks performed by the air freight team are highly diverse. On the one hand, these include ensuring the smooth operation of FAIR@Link and INFr8 and, on the other, the ongoing development of the two platforms. Numerous customs and operational applications have now been integrated to optimize and speed up the transport and cargo processes for both imports and exports. IT support for the platform entails a high level of responsibility, especially in the time-sensitive air freight sector. A concrete example of this is the FAIR@Link slot booking system. This procedure, which is mandatory for all handling agents based at the airport, must be used by carriers and forwarders to reserve doors for truck loading and unloading.

Hand in hand with the community

Meanwhile, nearly half a million slot bookings per year are made via the platform. "The smooth operation of the platform is essential. When it comes to air cargo, the bottleneck point is not actually the transport of goods on the plane, but with the arrival and pickup processes at the airport," Anne explains. The air cargo community, in which all participating industries are represented, is fully aware of these issues. Accordingly, there is a strong common interest in further digitalizing customs and clearance processes and thus making them more efficient and transparent for all participants. "For example, an important milestone that we drafted and implemented together with the community was the FRA-OS module, which on the one hand meets the requirements of EU customs regulations and on the other hand has also significantly simplified both import and customs processes," Anne explains.

In organizing their work, the team uses the Scrum method. Anne particularly appreciates the streamlined processes, the step-by-step development in sprints lasting several weeks, and the regular feedback loops. She also makes sure that the newcomers, such as Tobias, always work in tandem with at least one of their more experienced colleagues, Ronny, Daniel or Thilo. "They do an amazing job of passing on their knowledge and familiarizing their colleagues with the day-to-day and project operations," says Anne. Developer Torben also has a strong support role in the team. The 30-year-old started programming with DAKOSY's sea cargo team in 2009 and gained valuable experience there before moving to the air cargo team in 2016.

Team excursion from the virtual world to Frankfurt's air cargo hub

"Practical Check"

To get a better idea of the processes at the airport, the team left the virtual world to go on a visit to the Frankfurt air cargo hub. During the two-day excursion, the developers followed the path of the cargo - from the cargo plane to the apron to ground handling. "Our customers and partners also opened the doors to exclusive backstage areas, such as the airport control tower," confirms Anne and elaborates: "When you can have the live experience of all the processes that take place around check-in and see them interlock like the pinions in a clock, it also helps you later on while you’re programming at your desk. Our focus is on jointly navigating the complex processes in reality as the first step before we start with the software programming. From our point of view, this is the guarantee of a successful project".

The team leader expects the team to continue to grow this year. "Our development successes for the air cargo community are quickly evident to our colleagues. Anyone who wants to actively shape the airport's digital transformation is definitely in the right place. Our results directly improve cargo processes. For example, through digitalization, we have reduced waiting times for drivers at the airport," says Anne.

"Anyone who wants to actively shape the airport's digital transformation is definitely in the right place. Our results directly improve cargo processes."

Anne Ebeling, Head of the air freight team at DAKOSY

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