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Digitalization: A Sharper Focus on Catering Management and Profitability

May 05, 2022
Author Peter CoelhoPeter Coelho
COO, Omnevo

In this third blog in a series focused on airline adoption of a revenue digitalization strategy, I want to zoom-in from the broader focus shared in the first two blogs and their emphasis on front-end issues and, instead, focus on how the digital solution is embedded across the airline’s day-to-day operations in F&B/Retail – driving new performance levels in every area it touches, for both LCCs and FSCs.

The digitalization of airline F&B opens-up dramatic new efficiencies and new standards of customer experience and, although at Omnevo we place a strong focus on our model’s capacity to grow revenue, it’s important to see that it sends a wave of new benefits and greater efficiencies flowing into every department. These are the incremental gains that can totally transform profitability.

Digitalization drives smarter processes that deliver major wins - such as stronger customer experiences and remarkable gains in sustainability – but the quiet strength of the platform is that it also creates thousands of tiny wins each and every day that reach across every department, in everything from automatic adjustment of order progression for the Operations department to instant invoice updates to Finance. These are the gains that accumulate and drive performance and profitability higher.

An integrated solution

Go from this...

Unlinked systems and paper processes across Supplier Management, Warehousing, Inventory, airline flight data, passenger numbers, flight information, Logistics & Operations, Equipment, Waste, Crew data

To this...

A single integrated Management View. An accurate, instant, real-time view that shares it all in one place.

Looking at the digital platform’s summary diagram (below), we can see that the end-to-end journey of a product, such as a beverage or a sandwich, is extraordinarily complex and demands close coordination across a wide range of actors.

Traditional operational systems face serious trip points at absolutely every stage of this journey; creating errors, confusion and inefficiencies that send disruptive ripples through the system, reaching into almost every airline department. Instead of that confused picture, the digital solution is built around a single view; a ‘live’ view that is accurate and is shared between the airline and its partners and service providers, enabling all to share a precise, trusted perspective.

Starting the journey

Using Supplier Management as our starting point, Predictive Forecasting and Predictive Loading are at the heart of our system, ensuring that the airline has precise data all the way from procurement to loading through the use of sophisticated algorithms that analyse procurement, consumption, and waste.

Participative Procurement Model (PMM)

A custom designed supply chain management system guides you in your ordering with suppliers and a database provides by-the-minute analysis of your stock position – minimizing stock at the warehouse and limiting waste, particularly through intense monitoring of sell-by-items.

The PPM predicts delivers analysis right across the flight programme – all onboard sales, consumption, waste, theft etc. - but also integrates the parameters agreed with a supplier, such as order quantities, value/volume, delivery times etc.  The platform automatically monitors your supply and operations chain; it knows each supplier/product lead time, it knows when you’ll run out, how long the lead time is for delivery, and so on along the chain.

A shared view

  • Your suppliers share your platform, easily integrating any existing systems.
  • It tells you when you need to re-stock and how much, sends out the order to your prioritised suppliers (in order of preference).
  • Purchase Order simplicity - the supplier accesses to the platform and can confirm details; if they modify an order then the PO becomes open again - you have the instant option to accept, decline or click to contact your next preferred supplier.
  • The platform automatically adapts to edits to orders in case modifications have been initiated by the suppliers, instantly removing the frequently high level of confusion, disruption, and reduced efficiency costs that traditional methods send resonating through the chain.

Digitalization removes these problems by enabling airlines to work much more closely with partners and suppliers, instantly sharing information and updates that drive the speed and efficiency of the end-to-end journey. While other platforms say ‘cope with it’, Omnevo’s actively reduces the problems through a range of functionalities that modify our system to adapt it to operational needs.


This means, for example, that an airline can easily shift from just one or two caterer options to twenty. This instantly opens-up a huge expansion of choice, but also instantly raises a problem as each partner also brings their own systems and procedures - on managing Logistics, how to pick & pack, how to store, how to despatch etc. We resolve that through integrating each into a common system that can speak to every partner system and integrate them all into one shared platform. This is transformational.


This is the heart of the system’s performance-driving engine; through hosting everyone on a shared system, the gains are astonishing. Blending technical expertise with our in-depth experience in management in airlines, catering, and logistics, we know how to seamlessly combine the airline’s operational needs with the digital platform.


Let’s look briefly into each of six key elements of the platform.

Network Management – integrating the fleet.

Here, we are combining all relevant info and data on one single Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that steers information and data on the fleet, flights, and the routes etc into a single, precise, real-time Management View, creating huge gains in accuracy, efficiency, time saving, clarity, all along the chain for every department, from Caterer to Crew. This is a radical shift from the traditional model that often adapts through three, four, five different systems that fail to integrate, adding complexity, confusion, and raising the potential for errors.

Key Feature:

Any flight alteration or delay is instantly integrated at every point in the chain – this means that, at every stage from Production to Crew, everyone is instantly aware and the system automatically adapts to the updated information. While the platform is incredibly sophisticated it’s intuitive to use, creating a simpler, smarter way of working that releases powerful new efficiencies along the chain and removes errors, confusion, and blockages.

Fundamentally, the technology is proven to work, it is meticulously constructed to address the needs of all users and provides a shared view that keeps all parties fully informed every step of the way.

Retail Management

In managing the full product portfolio end-to-end, the system orchestrates the onboarding of products and suppliers, providing precision information on size, weight, shelf life, commercial terms, volumes, minimum order quantities, shelf life etc.


Utilizing all that data enables the system to automate the next steps – including ordering, supplier information on predictive loading onboard, packing lists, packing instructions, and galley plans. Fingertip data on weight and balance can then be shared with the airline – minimizing every kilogram of weight taken on-board.

Pre-order Integration

The system is obsessed with minimizing the weight taken onto the plane and reducing the waste generated by overloading of non-consumed products. Pre-order reveals huge gains as the platform ensures that exactly right product and quantity reaches the right flight at the right time.  Moving away from the wastefully inefficient and time-consuming hassle of tallying Pre-order, Loaded lists and Boarding Sheets, the crew’s ePOS screen instantly integrates generated orders with the check-in counter information, immediately showing the PNR number to go with the right passenger name and seat number.


Adaptable right up to the moment of departure, a second integration is made at boarding, including final boarding, no-shows and changes. Crew simply use the seat map in the ePOS as part of a fully integrated process that reaches the passenger in their seat.

Time to sell

With greater responsiveness to any changes along the chain, the accuracy and adaptability of the system enables you to optimise what you sell, (including selling more F&B), and gives crew more onboard time, less paperwork, faster passenger processes and a stronger experience for the passenger. To optimize these gains too, Omnevo also provides crew training in the use of the ePOS, including enhanced retail skills to help them to drive sales.

Key feature:

Zooming-in on the new efficiencies of the ePOS system, crew have access to all allergen information – simply entering the allergen in question or the F&B item requested instantly shares full information on any presence.

Waste Monitoring

From smarter defining of the orders from suppliers the system creates sustainability gains all along the chain.

  • The Warehouse Management tool manages the products that are sorted by shelf life (and by LOTS), and tells you what to take from each area of the warehouse, using FIFO.
  • Algorithms for Predictive Forecasting and Predictive Loading algorithm at the end ensure that you’re only buying, storing, and loading what you really need. Additionally, the Equipment Management function provides instant monitoring of allocations, ensuring that equipment is in the right place.

Supplier Management & Auditing

Enabling accurate, instant auditing and monitoring of supplier performance across a range of parameters - such as delivery, shelf life and in-depth performance compliance levels, the system automatically ranks your suppliers.

This detailed picture supports both parties but also provides the airline with closer monitoring of suppliers to encourage higher performance.

I’ve talked throughout of the diverse gains that are created across the journey – faster processes, greater accuracy, the removal of blockages and bureaucracy, greater time available for Crew to sell, stronger customer experiences – but the key point is that each gain, whichever stage of the process and whichever department it reaches, contributes to enhanced profitability of your Retail/F&B programs. That is the core focus of the platform.

The system increases your profitability by enabling you to raise efficiency across all parameters (internal, external and Crew) throughout your Retail/F&B program. It’s not simply the technology that works; the shared picture drives greater cooperation between all parties, creating a new standard of partnership between airline and supplier/caterer. An added bonus is that catering and supply partners also recognize the performance gains that they can achieve across their own operations through the platform, further strengthening your relationships. 

Right across the operational chain, every process is assigned clearly and each party has a precise view of their agreed role, responsibilities and performance.  The power of the digital platform is that it enables you to raise performance on absolutely every operational element that is integrated into the system. The closer the cooperation between parties and the greater their commitment to accurately sharing their operations through the platform, the greater the gains achievable for all.
 

Recap on part 1 and 2 in this blog series: