The cargo industry is traditionally dominated by integrated cargo carriers (Hall, 2002). These carriers offer better and broader cargo transport services compared to their non-integrated counterparts. The major qualities of integrated carriers entail the provision of integrated door to door services, provision of ground fleet pickup and delivery services, and provision of long haul truck services for moving items or freight between airports (Hall, 2002). Hence, due to their sophisticated organization, integrated carriers are the preference to many customers. Additionally, they also guarantee their customers high security and safety of their items that are transit.
Nevertheless, there are also other little recognized players who do not provide a similar sophisticated service. These are non-integrated carriers, which offer smaller services compared to their counterparts. The characteristics of non-integrated carriers entail the provision of services to narrower geographic regions, more focus is given to specialized and larger shipments, and emphasis is put on acting as subcontractors to major carriers (Hall, 2002). In this regard, non-integrated carriers offer high risks in terms of safety and security of items on transit. Hence, there is a need to examine some of the safety and security risks associated with non-integrated carriers and propose possible solutions to address them. Examples of integrated carriers include Nippon, Evergreen International, Atlas Air, and Cargolux
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Safety is an important component in the cargo transport operations. The assurance that the customer’s cargo will be safe improves the image of any successful cargo carrier. Non-integrated carries are subjected to a number of safety issues, which deserve to be addressed in the most amicable manner possible. The sequence of operations in the delivery of any cargo to its final destination entails the following operations: unloading operations, sorting operations, transportation from the local terminal to the airport, sorting at the local terminal, scheduling delivery, assignment of the airport to delivery, and actual delivery.
First, loading and unloading operations can be the most dangerous if they are not properly executed. However, most of the time very little concern is given to the loading and unloading process of cargo. Normally, there are loading and unloading instruments designed to carry out these tasks in the safest way possible. The instruments are expensive; hence, they are mostly accessible to large integrated carriers while non-integrated carriers tend to pursue alternative techniques of ensuring that the cargo is effectively loaded. Thus, in most circumstances a 10-15% is bound to occur in the carrier (Wu, Wei-Cheng & Zhou, 2001). Whenever such kind of an overload occurs, it poses risk during the transportation process.
Secondly, cargo handling is another critical area that deserves critical focus for non-integrated carriers. “The magnitude of forces and stresses that can develop during cargo handling can be very significant, and marginal errors in loading can be catastrophic” (Wu, Wei-Cheng & Zhou, 2001, p.17). Previously, there have been instances in which the magnitude of stress exerted on the cargo has resulted in the destruction of property due to unsafe standards. According to Wu, Wei-Cheng and Zhou (2001) “proper loading guidance is very important to safe cargo handling” (p. 17). The lack of proper instruments in small non-integrated carriers might easily lead to the occurrence of serious accidents. In essence, safeguarding the cargo and its impact on handlers is the main focus of promoting safety standards.
Thirdly, structural safety should be ensured at all times. Small carriers tend to rely on small consignments, but there are situations in which they receive bigger consignments that what they can effectively handle. During this time, the cargo handlers normally used for the small consignments may not effectively accommodate the change in weight. As a result, structural weaknesses occur, which possess danger to future operations if the problem is not fixed. This is primarily because the handling, discharging, and loading of cargo are a significant determinant of the resultant structural safety of bulk carriers (Wu, Wei-Cheng & Zhou, 2001). Hence, it is important for non-integrated carriers to make contingency plans by establishing linkages with major carriers such that whenever they have major consignments some adjustments can be made to take care of the extra load.
Fourthly, the fact that non-integrated carriers tend to rely on short haul transport vehicles as opposed to long haul vehicles, the probability of accidents occurring is much higher. Dillingham (2009) observed that small cargo carriers usually have higher proportions of accident with a high outcome of fatality. According to another survey conducted between 1997 and 2008, it was established that small cargo carriers experienced 79% of all air cargo accidents recorded while 96% of fatal accidents were also attributed to them (Dillingham, 2009). This may result in a serious safety issue during transportation of cargo from the local terminal to the airport. The probability of an accident occurring is higher because of the number of trips that have to be made by a short haul vehicle. Moreover, the presence of a big carrier may necessitate unnecessary competition, which further increases the chance of an accident taking place. In addition, the sorting operations at a local terminal may be subjected to safety problems because of poor technological enhancements to carry out the functions competently.
Fifthly, non-integrated carriers may not be equipped with the most efficient disposal facilities for potentially dangerous cargo. This mainly refers to cargo that is either of chemical or biological nature and whose components need to undergo safe disposal. Non-integrated carriers are also relatively footloose in nature and as a result they take time to find a suitable airport to undertake their operations (Gardiner, 2006). Hence, by virtue of the unfamiliarity with the some of their surroundings, non-integrated carriers possess a safety threat considering the need for carriers to establish important benchmarks such as public health standards in a specific carrier point and possible exposure of the cargo to the same.
Sixthly, by virtue of the limited geographical operation of non-integrated careers, they may fail to meet safety standards in some areas. Generally, non-integrated carriers tend to undertake experimental decisions with regard to location (Gardiner, 2006). Hence, in the event they are handling potentially sensitive cargo, it may either be confiscated or returned on safety standards
Numerous security threats may arise when the cargo is on transit. Hence, cargo carriers attempt their best to ensure that security standards are upheld. According to Gardiner (2006) operating in international markets leads to the occurrence of more uncertainty and risks, which arise due to different regulatory measures and cultural differences. First, the unfamiliarity of non-integrated carriers with the certain geographical routes possess serious security threats to the cargo. Gardiner (2006) remarked that “there are a number of hurdles at the airport that the cargo has to negotiate such as security, customs inspection, and warehouse clearance” (p. 86). As a result, it is important for non-integrated carriers to establish effective security measures in order to safeguard the cargo system against possible infiltration. This implies that the practice of relying on the airport’s security provided for the terminals is not always a reliable measure to use.
Secondly, some non-integrated carriers may have weak links with the airport systems in which they operate. This is commonly observed whenever they are operating in a non traditional route or a new place where they are still getting acquainted. In another scenario, the non-integrated carriers could be handling small services where major integrated service providers are dominant; hence, in such situations there is a high chance of a security lapse occurring. This is because of the disjointed framework of the non-integrated carriers with the security mechanism provided by the respective airport authorities. This indirect link tremendously weakens its security structure. Normally, air carriers, whether cargo or non cargo, and other indirect air carriers maintain the responsibility of maintaining specially approved TSA security requirements, which entail frequent maintenance of the TSA approved program (Berrick, 2006). This program addresses the relevant policies, systems, and procedures required to have an effective security system. However, non-integrated carriers still face major challenges in meeting these requirements because of the cost implications and poor integration with an individual airport system.
Thirdly, maintaining the integrity of security seals for all cargo is an important aspect in the cargo industry. The seal is a locking mechanism that is normally installed on closed containers or transport trailer doors to guarantee a high security level for the components (Muller, 1995). Integrated carriers tend to have very elaborate sealing mechanisms, while non-integrated carriers tend to use simpler methods. As a result, the seal mechanisms for non integrated carriers may be subjected to security breaks, which may expose the cargo to security threats. The problem is made worse by lack of a dedicated staff at airport terminals to ensure that the security seals remain intact.
Fourthly, non integrated carriers may lack access to air intermodal facilitators to oversee cargo routing between terminals. The air intermodal facilitator plays an important role of ensuring that cargo is secure at all times (Muller, 1995). However, non-integrated carriers mostly have a limited budget; hence, they prefer keeping a staff consisting of few members in order to keep their costs manageable. Thus, when the staff numbers are kept at a minimum, it may not suit the extra supervision needed to ensure that the air non-integrated carrier maintains a seamless security system. Consequently, the cargo will be exposed to high security threats, which may result in the company’s profile declining.
Fifthly, non-integrated carriers may not have access to enhanced technology installations needed to promote effective monitoring of their cargo. These installations are usually installed in various airport terminals in which their cargo is bound to pass. On the other hand, integrated carriers tend to have sophisticated technological installations, which give them an upper hand when it comes to monitoring their cargo in various terminals. The technological installations include cargo tracking devices, some of which may be installed in individual items; hence, it becomes an expensive affair for non-integrated carriers. In essence, what needs to be done to harmonize the technology framework in the different airport terminals so that all players are given a level field for competition. There are terminals in which very little concern is given to non-integrated carriers, which weakens their security framework.
Lastly, provision of insurance for cargo items is another area that elevates the uncertainty among non-integrated carriers. This is because of the impact it has on the carrier’s service provision, which arises from the high costs incurred in implementing insurance plans. Even though ordinarily there is a cost sharing element when it comes to insuring customers’ items, there are situations in which security infringements may occur on the side of the non-integrated carrier. Consequently, whenever the liability is on the carrier, it becomes a major risk for business, especially in airport terminals where there are stringent requirements to be met regarding cargo. In addition, securing the customer’s cargo from loss or damage should be the sole role of the customer. Nevertheless, carriers still have to chip in under unique circumstances. Due to the economies of scale, non-integrated carriers are disadvantaged.
In as much as non-integrated carriers may not have similar facilities, technology, and logistical enhancements like their integrated counterparts, they still play a major role in the cargo transport industry. The non-integrated carriers face challenges, which deter it from implementing the most stringent safety and security mechanisms to safeguard the cargo that is in transit. Among the specific points where safety problems arise include loading and unloading operations, cargo handling on transit, structural safety requirements, poor disposal facilities, and little knowledge of some geographical areas. On the other hand, security problems include weaker linkages with the respective airport authorities, poor adherence to TSA security standards, installation of simple and vulnerable security seals, and poor access to air intermodal facilitators to oversee critical terminal operations. To address these problems, it is important for the non-integrated carriers to implement an elaborate program of ensuring effective safety and security standards. Since the non-integrated carriers tend to have relatively limited budgets, they need to source for the most affordable systems through research and innovation. Additionally, the first response needed from non-integrated is to establish a better relationship with new geographical entities in which they take their services.