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Easy check-in! At DB Schenker’s European airfreight hub

Just like at the passenger terminal: at Lufthansa Cargo Center Frankfurt, DB Schenker now uses a digital system that speeds up the acceptance and delivery of airfreight shipments considerably, benefitting recipients all over Europe. Photos: Alex Kraus

Frankfurt, Cargo City Süd, building 529. Just a stone’s throw from the airfields of Europe’s biggest cargo airport, some good news has just come up on Winfried Neu’s monitor. Via the e-portal of Lufthansa Cargo, he is told that a shipment from Hong Kong containing high-tech printed circuits and other items is now ready to be picked up. The import broker working for DB Schenker points at the monitor. Green checkmarks indicate that the cargo has landed and been checked in at the airline’s warehouse and is now ready for pick-up.


“It means there will be no waiting at the cargo acceptance point,” says Winfried Neu. With just a few mouse clicks, he prepares the pick-up order for the truck driver, Pawel Nowicki. As he does so, he combines several consignments ready for collection into a “Quick Pick-up Group”, selects the relevant air waybills and enters the driver and vehicle data. Done! Instead of being handed a pile of papers, the DB Schenker drivers are now simply issued with a code. And with that, Pawel Nowicki is on his way.


Frankfurt is the European airfreight hub for the logistics service provider. The airport is also Lufthansa Cargo’s biggest hub. DB Schenker regularly uses the cargo airline as a carrier – and recently they also started to use Lufthansa Cargo’s new digital freight acceptance and delivery system in Frankfurt. “We had been using the system since 2018 as part of a pilot trial. It has turned out to be a real winner for ourselves and our customers,” says Nouri Boulahrouz who heads the import operations of DB SCHENKERjetcargo, the logistics service provider’s general airfreight product .


“The system has turned out to be a real winner for ourselves and our customers”

Nouri Boulahrouz, Head of DB SCHENKERjetcargo Import

The visible centerpieces of the new system are the self-service terminals: those pillars with built-in displays that are a familiar sight for every airline passenger. At these terminals, the drivers are assigned the ramp at the airline’s warehouse where they can pick up their shipments. The freight is then usually driven to the DB Schenker branch at Cargo City Süd – from where it is distributed to the recipients all over Europe.


Pawel Nowicki and his colleagues receive 80 to 90 Lufthansa Cargo shipments per day. Therefore they need to do the short shuttle run between ramp and branch office multiple times. Which means a few minutes saved during each pick-up will certainly add up to a sizeable amount. “The digital system represents a milestone,” says Nouri Boulahrouz. “We can now be certain that there won’t be any obstacles to the acceptance of a shipment once we send the drivers on their way. Which means we are back on the road sooner.” And above all, the customers benefit, too, given that goods shipped by air are almost always eagerly awaited.

Airfreight made easy at DB Schenker – thanks to connect 4 air  


Regardless of which carrier is being used, booking and managing airfreight shipments has never been as easy for DB Schenker customers as it is today. This is possible thanks to the introduction of the online platform connect 4.0 – which also features the option connect 4 air.


Once the customer has entered the flight and consignment data with just a few clicks, the system displays the corresponding quotes, along with dynamically updated transport rates. The customer can immediately proceed with the booking. While the consignment is in transit, there are various options for tracking its progress. Connect 4 air works for shipments to anywhere in the world, and includes both the “to airport” and “to door” options. Please click here to find out more about connect 4 air!

Since it has turned out to be such a success story in Frankfurt, the system is now also being used more intensively: “We are in the process of rolling it out at Munich Airport as well, and there again we are acting as a pilot customer for Lufthansa Cargo.” Not only that: in Frankfurt the system is currently being implemented for all direct pick-ups within Germany – that is to say, for consignments that are delivered directly to the recipients, without the short intermediate stop at the DB Schenker branch.


The driver Pawel Nowicki has arrived at the airline’s warehouse. He checks in at one of the self-service terminals in the import section using the barcode he was given earlier. He selects the option “Pick-up” and reviews the data being displayed, then enters confirmation. It only takes seconds for the display to tell him which ramp he should drive to. Once he has taken possession of the consignment, Nowicki puts his signature directly on the scanner proffered by a warehouse employee.


Back at the DB Schenker branch on the southern rim of Frankfurt Airport, the import broker Winfried Neu has been kept informed about each of the relevant stages: on the e-portal he can see the time stamps for the arrival and departure of Pavel Nowicki’s truck. The other thing he can see is that thanks to the new system, the driver was able to save enough time to fit in another shuttle run that day – some customers, somewhere in Europe, will be very pleased about that!

Keeping an eye on things: the digital system allows import broker Winfried Neu to easily supervise and coordinate all of the drivers’ operations. Photos: Alex Kraus

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