Sunday, July 21, 2024
Farewell to freight: Lothar Moehle reflects on 50 years in logistics

Farewell to freight: Lothar Moehle reflects on 50 years in logistics

Stepping away from the logistics industry after nearly 50 years, former Executive Director of Cargo iQ Lothar Moehle sat down with Air Cargo Week to reflect on his career and the changes within the sector.

“I consider myself to have been very lucky in my career, a lot of people gave me their support, put their trust in me. If I can give a little bit back to the next generation in the industry, I’m be happy to do so,” Moehle stated. “But, I think after almost 50 years, it’s time to close my laptop and make space for the younger generation.

“I’m also ready to be the master of my own agenda, my own diary, enjoying life a bit more and travelling with my wife, who’s been very supportive during my career. That will keep me very busy for the foreseeable future.”

Significance of standardisation

A significant portion of Moehle’s career has been dedicated to Cargo iQ (formerly Cargo 2000), focusing on standardisation and quality improvement across the supply chain. As globalisation has increased and the tools at the industry’s disposal has developed, the focus on improving visibility and transparency has grown.

Today, many aspects have been standardised, making implementation easier whether you’re in Hong Kong or Mombasa. This starts with hardware, such as standardised ULD sizes and materials. Standardisation also enables legislation, helping customs offices worldwide and veterinary checks to operate more efficiently with standardised data transmission. This gives better oversight of what is entering a country.

Additionally, security agencies now have far better control over what is planned to be shipped by air due to standardised security protocols. Authorities globally demand the same level of visibility—they want to know what is being transported and how much to charge for customs duties and VAT.

“Prior to Cargo iQ, measuring quality in the air cargo industry was largely subjective; you might have had a good feeling about it, but feelings are not objective. To address this, we first established the Master Operating Plan, which defined the standards needed to measure quality. Then, we made quality truly measurable and developed a quality management system that all members can apply,” Moehle explained.

“These milestones—defining standards, making quality measurable, and creating a quality management system—are significant achievements in the years Cargo iQ has been in existence. Today, it is standard practice to measure quality, and shippers now expect a higher level of visibility and transparency. They have become accustomed to a different quality level than what was experienced in the early days of Cargo iQ.

“Standardisation facilitates global trade and global trade drives the need for further standardisation.”

Defining trends

Examining the way the industry has evolved, Moehle pointed to the significant environmental and technological advancements that have been pivotal to the logistics sector’s development.

Reminiscing about the early days, Moehle cited how aircraft with four engines trailing dark smoke used to be the norm, whereas, nowadays, modern aircraft exemplify the industry’s sustainability goals.

On the digital side, when his career began, it was all manual typewriters and Telex machines, while now people are lost without a computer, boosting efficiency and effectiveness of operations by eliminating menial tasks.

“I think it’s been a kind of natural development. The environmental aspect has changed a lot, The industry’s vision has evolved. It all helps us be a lot more productive nowadays,” Moehle outlined.

“However, while many tools and standards are available, common global implementation is still lacking. There are many reasons for this, primarily because of the numerous divergent stakeholders with their own priorities. This makes it difficult to reach a unified approach. It’s frustrating that instead of stakeholders taking the initiative to implement these standards, they often wait for legislation to enforce it with deadlines, which shouldn’t be necessary.

“For example, if a forwarder books a shipment with an airline and the data exchange is not effective because the airline cannot receive all the data, it leads to significant inefficiencies.

“Similarly, if the airline needs more data but the forwarder cannot provide it due to outdated messaging standards, it causes disruptions. These issues could be easily eliminated with the full implementation of the latest requirements, data sets, and messaging standards.”

Life beyond logistics

As Moehle passes the baton to his successor at Cargo iQ, Marie Seco-Köppen, he is confident that the organisation will go from strength to strength.

“Marie is an industry progressional who has been involved in the cargo community for many years, so she and the Cargo iQ team will know what to do,” he added. “The work on quality and quality improvement never stops, so I’m confident the Cargo IQ will be in existence in 20 years from now.”

Regarding the industry, Moehle was swift to emphasise the need to accelerate progress towards standardisation and technological advancement.

“There’s no longer a need to wait for further development; the necessary tools are already available and just need to be properly applied. It’s crucial to ensure that whatever you’re doing is done correctly and efficiently. That’s my advice – speed up implementation and keep on digitalisation as the main.”

With that said, both metaphorically and literally, Moehle is looking forward to riding off into the sunset, as he takes a break from the daily grind of the logistics industry. A motorcycle enthusiast, he’s looking forward to a summer with a bit more freedom to hit the road.

“I like to do a little bit of DIY in the house but I really like to take my motorbike out for a ride. It’s always been limited to the weekend and then that depends on the weather, so retirement will bring some nice motorbike excursions,” Moehle explained. “For the long winter nights, I’ll be settling down to do some reading.”

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on


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