The Importance of Being Resilient

Resilience is needed in many different forms to generate success

It was disappointing to hear that events such as the IATA World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Istanbul have been postponed due to the coronavirus, but we fully understand and support the reasons behind the decisions as health and wellbeing come first.

We were looking forward to seeing many of you again, introducing ourselves to newcomers, and taking part in illuminating discussions on technology.

It is important in times like this to concentrate on our relationships with customers in order to make our businesses stronger, which is why we have been busy arranging alternatives for meetings that were affected by the closure of these events.

The cancellation of these events has highlighted how important business resilience and flexibility are when it comes to facing unexpected hurdles.

Fortunately, in 2020 it is very easy to stay connected by phone, email, video chat, and mass online seminars, highlighting just how durable digital innovations can be for business when crisis strikes.

The bottom line is that international trade and the movement of cargo will always continue and utilising digital innovations is one of the best ways to ensure this happens smoothly.

Confirming that cargo is being tracked and processes are being monitored will highlight where improvements can be made, which is essential for adapting efficiently and seamlessly to seismic industry changes.

Not only has there been unexpected disruption, but e-commerce is currently booming and digital solutions are the best way to embrace the changes that customers are making when purchasing goods.

At Hermes, we have spent a lot of time and effort ensuring that our customers and partners are supported by our cargo experts during these evolving times.

Dip your feet into digitalisation

Alex Labonne, CTO at Hermes, spoke with CargoForwarder Global earlier in the year to discuss digital transformations.


With COVID-19 leading to the postponement of the World Cargo Symposium in Istanbul, Turkey to 09-11MAR21, CFG went online to talk to Alex Labonne (AL) from Hermes Logistics Technologies, regarding original plans for the WCS 2020, the Hermes digital product, and the business impact of the current corona crisis.


CFG: What was the message that Hermes wanted to present at the WCS 2020?

Alexis Labonne, CTO, Hermes

AL: Digital transformation! In the cargo industry, technology is currently lagging behind, for good reasons, but I think there’s a large portion of the cargo industry that truly misunderstands what digital really means. When I see some of the focus put on protocols like XML, it shocks me. XML is very old, and to me the message is wrong. It is based on protocol and those technologies are almost irrelevant. It is our thinking about data, about what we exchange, which needs to evolve. We now have real life cases of customers using our NG Business Intelligence platform, which is interestingly not based on data itself, but based on events. Realistically, if you want to make a system digital, base it on events: ‘What happened?’ That is then the payload that goes with it – the data that pertains to the event. And this is very easy to share! You can share one event, you can share ten events, twelve. It has nothing to do with data-sharing, or the cargo-thinking ‘will I have to poke holes in my big database that does everything and give access to everyone?’ that currently prevents an advance. At Hermes, we created a digital platform that extracts everything that is changing and tries to give some context and meaning to it. So if you are a new CFO in cargo, and you don’t know cargo and the jargon that goes with it, what you see are comprehendible events: your cargo has arrived, the cargo was broken down, the cargo was built up. This is meaningful and something you can do business with. The old system just saying that something is wrong in the database, was absolutely no good to anyone, but now this is not that case. We have a digital platform with events and context, and I would have shown and explained this at the WCS.

CFG: So, clear steps and transparent processes along the chain. Privately, even in these corona times, I recently had a parcel delivered to me in Austria within two days from Hong Kong and could track and understand every single step that it did from when it left the warehouse in Hong Kong. So, that is similar to what we are looking at in Hermes’ cargo system?

AL: Exactly! It is the same as when you use Uber. Your app is for you. You don’t have a button where you have to log in as an administrator. Your app is all event-based. You request a taxi, so you put that event out, it goes into the fray and then something else picks it up and deals with it, and some notification gets sent back saying ‘we found a car’, and you go. That is exactly the idea: The system is looking at what is happening. Cargo is a supply chain system and is perfect for this. We have some customers that are  already using our NG BI, which actually creates a whole lot of apps by-products like track and trace, for example, and we would have been talking about this with potential and existing customers at the WCS, with more examples.
Also, we had an event planned in June for our customers in the UK – unfortunately this is on hold now due to corona. I worked in the past with many professors from universities like ITU in Copenhagen, and the idea is that we put scientists on the data and start to look beyond analytics to predictive analytics, and then prescriptive analytics – showing cargo handlers how they need to behave to hit the mark at a certain point. We would have shown this in June. This exercise is still going on. We have a lot of beautiful events piled up in massive data lakes, and we have a post-PHD scientist who is going to start looking at this together with our customers’ wishes, to see what mathematics can do for us.


CFG: Excellent. You have been talking about the NG BI platform which started off in Chile, correct?

AL: Yes, it started off with one of our clients in South America (UASL of Ultramar Group), because they were receptive to the idea and had the old questions like ‘I want a report that shows me this’. The idea of the NG platform is to pile all these events somewhere, and to allow the customers to draw what they need.  You know what reporting is like usually – long-winded and then, by the time the report suits the question, it is out-dated and difficult to understand. We wanted to offer something that is quick to deliver, easy to navigate, and meaningful. We provide you with the cargo IQ, the standard stuff, but anything non-standard, you don’t have to wait for anybody – you can hire a third-party to do the job if you want to. our South American customer has been using the platform for quite a few months, and now we have network and larger customers, for example one in Australia, testing the technology on productino events and getting ready to fully go live soon.


CFG: You said in a previous interview that when you joined Hermes, three years ago now, you saw lots of low hanging fruit in the cargo industry. You mentioned your shock at XML already, what other low hanging fruit were there that you saw?

AL: Again, how cargo deals with what happens from when they get the freight in, when they get the booking, when the flight leaves. Things are sometimes cumbersome and hard to analyse. So, in the BI space for example, there are so many easy ways to actually react to dwell times, damaged cargo, etc, and today it is still a problem for cargo handlers to get at data, to actually justify to their customers and freight forwarders why something costs more, why, how and by whom cargo was damaged. These things are very well managed in other industries already, so it looked to me like quite a divide, and as shown by how our customers receive the NG BI platform, I did not have to battle long to convince them. The battle, when it comes, is on the commercials and the costs, but again, it is very easy to justify e-checking facilities when you currently have a large amount of manpower doing this job, who could be put to better use within the company. A reduction in manual costs in this area – though that is a sensitive topic, of course – and the heavy use of paper, are two low-hanging fruit. IATA is doing much in this area with One-record, but I often struggle with worldwide imposed protocols. It is better to let IT providers like us do the legwork and rely on IT integration rather than imposing protocols.


CFG: You said, “let IT providers do the legwork”. Do you find it an issue when you talk to large companies who have their own IT departments that struggle to find staff, need to ensure that they are on the front end of developments, and think future-oriented, yet are tied down by their legacy systems, and thus their decision makers are also restricted by this focus?

AL: Yes, there is a reluctance to go outside, because companies fear that data security is not given. As an IT architect, I advise that companies segregate their concerns, and push them out to people who are experts in the IT field, so that the company itself only need deal with the contractual side of things. People say, ‘My data is going to go there. I’m not going to control it!’ Yet, especially the security aspect is better off in the hands of IT experts.


CFG: Yes, I saw your answer to that in a recent interview, where you pointed out that, for example, Microsoft has hundreds of security experts on their system, yet companies with own systems often do not realise they have been hacked until something goes wrong. Understandable.

Regarding IT experts, there are a great many start-ups popping up now, focusing on individual solutions to various cargo problems. At the recent Cargo Facts EMEA conference in FEB20, 5 of them who had been through the IAG Hangar 51 hackathon, presented solutions on data analytics, cargo dimension measuring and label reading, for example. Does Hermes work with start-ups, too? Since you talk about IT ecosystems which, as I understand it, are basically lots of little apps and everything all working together in one overall umbrella. So, does Hermes do everything in-house or do you also work with them?

AL: Absolutely! We do work with them. I know a number of these start-ups and some who attended that hackathon, and, as you said, we look for ancillary capabilities that could be integrated into our platform, so we do keep an eye on them, and will maybe considering acquiring some of them, or partnering in future. Currently, given the corona crisis, we are focussing on underpinning our own community platform and its integration possibilities – for example, we are talking to BRUCloud at the moment – but once this corona crisis is over, we will resume looking at some possible acquisitions we started talking to before.
Start-ups have a hard job. Digitally they are advanced and do not have the baggage that large IT providers like us have, but what they lack is the customer-base. Cargo handling systems are very “sticky”, since any move to new IT is a huge, costly and many times painful projects. So, on the one hand, large companies with large functionally rich systems like Hermes, will need to break down their massive handling system to more modular applications to evolve at the right pace, and start-ups can benefit from acquisitions or partnerships with us to better access customers through joint ecosystems.
We would have liked to use the WCS to meet up with potential partners in terms of ecosystems – two of them would have been attending – as well as talk to our competitors in regards to aligned technology thinking and consulting, so that our competition terrain becomes a competition of excellence rather than simply competition on the basics.


CFG: Plan 2020. You mention in one of your recent blogs, that you want to move to artificial intelligence, focus on e-commerce and being able to handle loose packages and mail, other than standard cargo, and that you want to work on slot management systems. Now that we have corona at the moment, two questions: 1) Is that plan still going ahead and what is Hermes going to come out with this year? And 2) Because of corona and because you also deal with Chinese customers such as PACTL, do you see a financial impact already?

AL: Yes, we are already preparing our customers. In terms of sales orders for the new generation system and new technologies, although we had no cancellations of any kind, we have made plans so we are ready in case orders will not be near what we expected. As we see that more and more companies reporting going through consolidation, we had to take some preparatory actions ourselves such as revise all our plan of hiring staff for our teams. In this time we put the emphasis on safety while ensuring our service level will not decrease which lead us to move all our staff to work seamlessly from home and be able to support our global customer base, something that kept our IT team quite busy. That said, like all businesses right now, we are looking at option one to ten to temporarily hold back on spending and how best to support our customers. It is pretty tough for our customers right now, so we know that we’re probably going to have to make some adjustments because our customers will. We have taken the foot off the pedal a bit for innovation, but then again, we’re looking at partners, for things like slot booking for example. There are some excellent community systems out there and we will still be looking into integration rather than doing it on our own which is not viable in the current climate.
In terms of innovation, we are in a good flow still, and based on our agile development, we have the ability to accelerate or slow down, so whatever our NG customers want to do this year, we will do. Just some of our other plans will be slowed down a bit. Our digital roadmap is secure because we already have done the groundwork and have the resources.

CFG: At the ACHL, you had a talk called “How to Make Your Own crystal ball.” What was the main message from there?

AL: It was all about monetizing data! We generate time-based, event-based, classification-based data, which is excellent for machine learning and better forecasting, even going all the way to dynamic pricing, something which is particularly highly profitable for businesses. It was all about alerting cargo handlers to the fact that they are sitting on a data goldmine. If they don’t go digging, and don’t pay for diggers, if they keep their coffers locked, nothing’s going to happen. I just wanted to show them the possibilities in the simplest way really, of profiting from predictive analysis.
The by-products of this business intelligence are awesome! Once you know what’s going on when it’s happening and why it happened, then you can start creating all sorts of apps or let start-ups loose on the event. And we develop everything in the cloud, which is both secure plus it allows you to connect with other partners in the cloud, resulting in some excellent business possibilities.

CFG: What is a final message you would like to send out to CFG readers?

AL: What is new about the digital platforms out there? The entry costs! Compared to the big, incumbent handling systems where the entry costs are heavy, what we focus on in the digital world at Hermes, are minimum entry costs. And also, the ability to “dip your foot in” which is what we tell our customers for NG BI, for example. We don’t install it and say, “There, you got it!” since every handler has different processes, different events, is a different size and so on. We tell them to go for six months, play with it! Usually, after the six months, the customers have ideas of what they want next. During the six months, if they have issues with working with what they are looking at, this prompts us to train, develop and evolve, too.
The entry costs are really minimal, and the beauty of it is that after six months they can decide to keep it or remove it. So, cargo handlers should dip their feet into the digital world. It doesn’t cost that much. The infrastructure costs are pay as you go – so if you don’t use is, you don’t pay it – and the potential efficiencies are enormous.

CFG: Thank you, Alex Labonne!

Tech in 2020

Alexis Labonne, CTO, Hermes

E-commerce was one of the best performing sectors in 2019, and it is set to continue as one of the most important areas for growth in 2020.

As spending power increases for consumers in growing economies, and shopping habits evolve across the world, Hermes’ digital cargo management solutions help keep our customers ahead of the changes in the market in the coming year.

In 2020, we will start to see how predictive analytics can benefit companies’ supply chains from optimising operational strategies to accurately allocating space and resources to meet rises and falls in demand before they take place.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also play a more vital role in enhancing the supply chain for far smoother experiences in all cargo types by providing the right level of automation to the right people.

In anticipation of these developments and the growth of e-commerce, the Hermes product range will grow with the addition of slot management and slot booking apps set to go live later this year.

The Hermes NG Business Intelligence (BI) module, which launched last year, will be particularly valuable in taking advantage of these benefits, and its data lakes are set for additional enhancements in the coming year.

We are gearing our products to go well beyond Air Waybill (AWB) cargo traffic in order to support varying cargo types such as e-commerce, mail, and loose cargo.

Hermes 5, our core, in-warehouse product will also be receiving advanced upgrades to its Mail handling, and native mobile companion apps, and will provide full AWS as a cloud-based Service as a Solution (SaaS).

In 2020, we will see new products emerging with entirely new markets for competition as data-tools and data-sharing become standard in the industry.

The air cargo community, that has embraced digitalisation, must now start to move to the next level, where the data that we are all generating is used productively, not just for individual companies, but the industry as a whole.

The power of AI and data – Hermes in 2020

Yuval Baruch, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hermes Logistics Technologies

The air cargo industry is looking to 2020 for a reprieve from 2019’s slowdown, and at Hermes Logistics Technologies (HLT) we are working hard to develop advanced tech solutions to help our customers adapt and be agile in the evolving market.

Last year we launched our Business Intelligence (BI) module for Hermes NG that allows customers to leverage the data our systems generate to make business decisions for supply chain and operations optimisation.

In 2020 the benefits of AI and machine learning will begin to bring real results to companies, and we have some announcements and events lined up regarding this – stay tuned.

The power of data and digitalisation brings benefits beyond individual companies and will positively impact the greater industry.

The HLT team will be attending industry events to get the cargo community talking about how the power of data will revolutionise air cargo.

Jacek Lechocki, our head of products and services will be attending Air Cargo India in Mumbai from 25th-27th Feb, and Yuval Baruch, CEO and Alexis Labonne, CTO, will be attending the World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Turkey from 10-12 March.

If you’d like to arrange a meeting with us at either of these events, please let us know your availability and send us an email.



Etihad extends contract with Hermes Logistics Technologies to upgrade cargo management system to Hermes 5

H5 will bring usability improvements, advanced integration with external applications, and open up business intelligence capabilities,

London, UK, Monday 16th December 2019 – Hermes Logistics Technologies (HLT) has extended its contract with Etihad Aviation Group and will begin upgrading Etihad’s Cargo Management System (CMS) to the latest version of Hermes 5 (H5).

H5 will bring usability improvements, advanced integration with external applications, and open up business intelligence capabilities, which can be used with AI and machine learning algorithms to optimise business and handling processes.

“We are delighted with the contract renewal with Etihad Aviation Group as it confirms HLT as a core strategic partner as they make major infrastructure upgrades to their hub in Abu Dhabi,” said Yuval Baruch, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), HLT.

“H5 will provide the latest generation of data solutions to enable next level business and cargo-handling process enhancements as the hub embraces the digital revolution and upgrades its e-commerce and pharma processing facilities.”

H5 creates a cargo management ecosystem where external actors in the supply chain and third-party applications will all be able to collaborate seamlessly.

“Etihad and Hermes Logistics Technologies have been collaborating since 2015 and we welcome the latest digital solution offered by our trusted partners,” said Frank Meyer, Chief Digital Officer, Etihad Aviation Group.

“By upgrading to Hermes 5, we will have a digital solution tailored to Etihad’s needs, focusing on improving our cargo operations providing a seamless experience for our customers.”

In addition to being open to external applications, H5 also forms the core of Hermes NG, a cloud-based suite of cargo management applications that include Business Intelligence (BI), Track&Trace, and eCheckin for customised cargo management solutions.

“Our UK business analysis team joined our new development team from India on-site to complete significant upgrades to Etihad’s current CMS laying the groundwork for the H5 implementation process,” said Jacek Lechocki, Head of Product and Services, HLT.

“Hermes teams will be working closely with Etihad again to execute the next steps in the upgrade path, ensuring they reap the benefits of the latest, world-leading, CMS functionality available in H5.”

Hermes NG’s modules can be used on a pay-as-you-go basis, and as a cloud-based system, no extra IT infrastructure is required to host them, allowing for maximum flexibility and savings on capital expenditure.


November Newsletter Intro

Yuval Baruch, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hermes Logistics Technologies

November Newsletter Intro

Hermes Logistics Technologies is spearheading cargo management innovation with our latest cargo management system (CMS) Hermes 5(H5).

Our partners have been upgrading to this industry-leading system across the world, and Menzies Aviation has opted to move their entire network to H5, to take advantage of its advanced connectivity, cloud functionality, and its event-based approach to data.

To read more about Menzies’ adoption of H5, click here.

Event-based data is all about seeing data as part of a larger context, which creates meaningful and shareable information that can be controlled both to protect intellectual property but also to improve performance across the supply chain.

Alex Labonne, Hermes’ Chief Technology Officer spoke at this year’s Air Cargo Handling Logistics (ACHL) conference about how event-based data is good for businesses and the whole industry, like a crystal ball…

To find out more click here.

Creating a Crystal Ball for Cargo Management

Creating a Crystal Ball for cargo management

Events over data by Alex Labonne

Data is like oil; it needs to be extracted and refined to be consumed. And just like oil, we use it to power the machines that our businesses rely on. Data is also overtaking oil as a world commodity.

But data, unlike oil, increases in quantity, and as its quantity increases, its usefulness and value increases also.

Big tech companies have been taking advantage of the growing flow of data generated by their platforms for years now, and it is time for the cargo industry to do the same.

Every actor in the supply chain is sitting on highly valuable data, that when harnessed efficiently, can be used for cost prediction, revenue modelling, and creating new markets.

Machine learning algorithms (artificial intelligence systems) use the data for predictive and statistical analysis that allow you to fine tune your processes and systems,giving you a crystal ball to look into the future of your businesses.

But for the crystal ball to work, businesses need to be willing to accept data-sharing and transparency.

Companies are reluctant to share their data, concerned about the integrity of their databases, or losing the competitive advantage of proprietary information.

The other major factor that holds back data systems is the nature of the data.

A traditional data-record is created like a list, with different criteria filled in – and expected.

With a shipment this could be fields like weight, date, controller etc.

This system has its limitations. Many iterations of the same information are created with different values at different times, making the information imprecise.

As there are many different ways to store and record this data, different systems might be unable to access or share it.

It is now time to view data, not as something that is stored in a database, but as event based – as result of the context, situation and action that created it.

To see data as events, we also need to change the way we record data, and at Hermes we are committed to refining our systems to generate the best quality event-based data.

The idea of data-sharing is still a stumbling block for many companies, but event-based data provides tempered-glass transparency, partners can see the event, but do not have access to the database, keeping your data secure.

By seeing data as events, we can look into the crystal ball and come up with accurate and value-adding predictions.

Made with tempered glass for security and transparency, the insights the crystal ball gives us, can be of benefit to the entire industry.

Hermes Logistics Technologies to deliver cargo management solutions for the global Menzies Aviation network

Hermes Logistics Technologies will implement its flagship cargo management system, Hermes 5, at Menzies Aviation facilities across six continents

London, UK, Tuesday 15th October 2019 – Menzies Aviation has selected Hermes Logistics Technologies (HLT) to provide the Cargo Management System (CMS) for its global network.

The most recent version of HLT’s flagship CMS, Hermes 5 (H5), will be rolled out at Menzies cargo facilities from Q1 next year.

“After benchmarking the industry, we selected H5 as our cargo management system because it was clear Hermes offers the most advanced solutions in the market,” said Robert Fordree, EVP Cargo, Menzies Aviation.

“Hermes is in our DNA, we have a shared history and working with them means that we are uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the depth of functionality H5 has to offer.”

“Sustainably growing our cargo business is a key part of our future strategy, and H5 will be integral to our toolset for achieving our growth trajectory.”

Menzies Aviation operates cargo handling facilities in nearly 40 airports across six continents, handling over 1.6 million tonnes of cargo in 2018.

“Through our partnership with Menzies Aviation, our cargo management solutions will allow them to build upwards from an already strong foundation,” said Yuval Baruch, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hermes Logistics Technologies.

“Hermes 5 represents the future of cargo management solutions, its open architecture allows for full integration into cargo ecosystems, from warehouses to airports.

“One of the key benefits of Hermes 5 is its scalability, making it the ideal solution for a network like Menzies’ which includes small, medium, and large sized operations.

“The standardisation and open connectivity of the platform means complete compatibility and data-sharing across their logistics facilities and services.

“We are proud to continue our relationship with Menzies Aviation and be recognised as a market leader in providing cargo management solutions.”

H5 was launched last year and the CMS continues to be adopted by airports, airlines and ground handlers across the globe, including Hanoi Airport, RSA National, LuxairCARGO, and most recently CHS Trade in Slovakia.


Hermes NG: Inside Track & Trace, Business Intelligence(BI) and e-checkin

Hermes NG, our suite of standalone cargo management applications which operate on a pay-as-you-go basis allow full flexibility to customers who really want to pick and choose the features they want, and need, in a cargo management system.

In this video we break down how the e-checkin, Track & Trace and Business Intelligence (BI) modules work and how Hermes NG allows full integration with other systems for data-sharing and analysis.



Digitalisation, Data and improving efficiency – find out more from Hermes at Air Cargo Handling Logistics (ACHL)

Alex Labonne, Hermes CTO will be sharing insights and expertise into data and digitalisation at ACHL in Paris, from September 25th

Data, digitalisation, and efficiency are the heart of Hermes cargo management systems (CMS) and these topics will be topping the agenda at the Air Cargo Handling Logistics (ACHL) in Paris, from 24th to 26th September.

Alex Labonne, Hermes’ Chief Technology Officer (CTO) will be giving a presentation on how events, instead of data, can give you a crystal ball insight at every point of your cargo handling process.

‘Events over data’, and how to make your own crystal ball will take place on Wednesday, 25th September at 11:50.

Alex will also be speaking on a panel to discuss the pace of digitalisation, the financial repercussions of companies who haven’t embraced it, and whether the logistics industry is too resistant to innovation.

Listen to the digitalisation panel discussion at 11.50 on Thursday, 26th September.

We invite you to stop by the Hermes booth at ACHL any time or set up a meeting with me, Jacek Lechocki, our Head of Products and Services, or Alex.

Click here to book a time, or send an email to

We will be delighted to talk with you about all the latest developments to our CMSs (Hermes 5 & Hermes NG Ecosystem) that have the functionality, technology and flexibility to provide solutions for cargo handling ecosystems of any size.

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