The future of freight forwarding relies on human expertise augmented by technology according to Raft founder James Coombes

Operations automation is key to business resilience and a sustainable future for the forwarding industry, Coombes told delegates at FIATA’s HQ Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.


Smart technology, enabling operations automation and better data sharing, will support forwarders to build more efficient, sustainable supply chains, according to James Coombes, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of freight platform RAFT.

Forwarders have a unique opportunity to offer their shipper customers a better service through emerging technology, he told delegates at the FIATA HQ Meeting yesterday.

“We are at a critical inflection point, where it is not enough to be simply a transactional freight forwarder,” said Coombes.

“This is a unique moment in time where automation technology is finally at a place where it can impact the traditionally human-centric operations of a freight forwarder.

“The future of freight forwarding relies on human expertise augmented by technology and AI applications, putting automation and transparency up front and centre.”

Raft uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions to solve operational challenges faced by freight forwarders, by automating time-consuming tasks across the shipment lifecycle, from operations, customs and finance, as well as customer-facing tasks such as emissions reporting.

“We could see that companies with operational know-how did not have machine learning engineers, and vice versa,” said Coombes.

“We built an operations automation platform, backed by AI, to enable forwarders of all sizes to meet evolving customer expectations in a cost-effective, scalable way.

“Our customer base is growing, and we are already deploying our technology to a large range of freight forwarders, helping to revolutionise the way they work to change the landscape for the better.”

Coombes spoke on a panel focused on how technology and artificial intelligence can help forwarders at the FIATA event in Geneva, Switzerland.

“FIATA is helping its members to embrace digitalisation at their own pace, through its Digital Strategy, meanwhile introducing the latest innovative softwares via its Digital Lab webinar series,” shared Dr. Stéphane Graber, FIATA Director General.

“FIATA encourages its members to explore the Raft solution, which integrates with forwarders’ TMS platforms to make the entire shipping process more visible.”

The FIATA HQ meeting explored the need for forwarders to build resilience, in light of the pandemic, war in Ukraine, rising energy costs, and other climatic disasters posing challenges to global supply chains and sustainable development.

“FIATA welcomes innovative tools such as the one provided by Raft which enables mid- and small-sized freight forwarding companies to benefit from the advantages brought by new technologies,” added Dr. Ivan Petrov, FIATA President.

James Coombes and Nisarg Mehta, Chief Technology Officer, co-founded Raft in 2017 with the aim of using cutting-edge technology to radically improve freight forwarder workflows.


FIATA International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations is a non-governmental, membership-based organisation representing freight forwarders in some 150 countries.

FIATA’s membership is composed of 109 Association Members and more than 5,500 Individual Members, overall representing an industry of 40,000 freight forwarding and logistics firms worldwide. Based in Geneva, FIATA is ‘the global voice of freight logistics’.


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