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ALSTEF / SACO: a Partnership to Transform the Landscape of Air Cargo Handling Facilities

Article submitted by: SACO Airport Equipment – a TIACA Corporate Member

In recent years, modern warehouse technologies have progressed substantially, altering how warehouses function and enhancing overall efficiency, accuracy, and production. Among the most important modern warehouse technologies are:

– Advanced Warehouse Management System WMS

– Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS)

– Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV’s)

– Robotics

– the Internet of Things IoT sensors

– Predictive Analytics

– Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

– Augmented reality

Despite the fact that these technologies have shown to be beneficial to warehouse operations outside of airports, their implementation in airport cargo facilities is currently limited.

In order to foster the use of these technologies within the air cargo environment, SACO Airport Equipment, a renowned specialist in air cargo ULD handling and storage equipment, has joined forces, with Alstef Group, the industry leader of airport material handling systems and logistics.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) in particular can play an important role in addressing various difficulties faced by cargo airlines. These self-driving vehicles are intended to deliver cargo and goods in a controlled environment with no human interaction. Here’s how AGVs can assist cargo airlines overcome some persisting challenges:

Efficient Cargo Handling: AGVs can help to streamline cargo handling processes at airports and cargo terminals. They can transfer pallets and containers with precision and flawless automated efficiency between different places within the facility, such as the airside and landside docks, the build-up break-down area, the screening area, and the storage area. Alternatively, also between two facilities in order to make the best use of the handling means.

Reduced Reliance on Human Labour: By deploying AGV’s for cargo handling jobs, cargo airlines can minimize their reliance on human labour, particularly for repetitive and labour-intensive procedures. This can lead to cost savings, better staff allocation and avoid issues with labour availability – currently common to many airports.

24/7 Operations: Because AGV’s can operate around the clock, cargo aircraft can maintain continuous operations, particularly during peak demand periods. This can aid in meeting tight deadlines, short cut-off times and dealing with swings in cargo volumes.

Optimized Space Utilization: AGV’s are built to navigate efficiently in small spaces. Cargo airlines can make better use of available capacity by optimizing the usage of warehouse and cargo hold space with AGV’s.

Improved Safety: AGV’s are outfitted with modern sensors and collision avoidance systems, reducing the danger of mishaps and collisions when handling goods. This improves overall cargo facility safety.

Real-time Tracking and Visibility: AGV’s can be incorporated into a larger cargo management system, allowing for real-time cargo tracking and visibility. This improves inventory management and lowers the chance of cargo loss or misplacement.

Faster Turnaround Times: AGV’s can speed up cargo transfers between aircraft and cargo facilities, resulting in shorter flight turnaround times. This is critical for fulfilling flight schedules and delivery deadlines.

Flexibility and Scalability: AGV’s may easily be programmed and altered to handle different types of cargo as well as changes in load volume. The fleet of AGV’s may be ramped up or down as freight demands change.

Enhanced Security: AGV’s can be integrated with access control systems and security procedures, minimizing the danger of illegal entry to sensitive cargo regions and improving cargo security.

Redundancy and Resilience: Sustainability and energy efficiency: AGV’s are mainly battery powered, which contributes to the airline’s sustainability initiatives by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption as compared to traditional fuel-powered cargo vehicles.

While AGV’s have numerous advantages, their successful implementation necessitates careful design, integration in combination with other proven technologies, and proper personnel training. Cargo airlines should do comprehensive cost-benefit assessments to verify that AGV’s meet their specific operating demands and goals. AGV’s can be a great asset for cargo carriers in solving operational issues and enhancing overall efficiency when used properly.