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Big up, for ULD technologies

It’s rather fascinating to learn how far ULD technology has come compared to just a few decades ago

It’s rather fascinating to learn how far ULD technology has come compared to just a few decades ago. It’s around 60 years since the airline industry first played with the idea of using some kind of device to unitise the baggage and cargo carried in the holds of civil aircraft. Today, around 900,000 ULDs with a replacement value of around $1 billion support the world’s air cargo operations, around the world, and around the clock.

Container and pallet management solution providers are blazing a trail in the implementation of next-generation tracking. Unilode, for instance, has started equipping its ULD fleet with digital tags based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. BLE tags are fully embedded in the structure of ULDs, and their data can be captured automatically through a global interoperable reader infrastructure. The BLE programme constitutes a huge step forward in the drive for a digital transformation of ULD management solutions.

It’s no surprise that innovation in ULD management took centre stage at the 13th World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Singapore. In fact, Unilode was recognised for its bluetooth-based tracking solution for ULDs and was the recipient of the IATA Air Cargo Innovation Award for 2019.

Unilode’s concept, which scored high with the independent jury of academics and CEOs, showed how it will allow customers to use the ULD as a proxy for air cargo located inside to track location and transmit status updates on the temperature, light and shock exposure and humidity.

Mobile apps and blockchain are also interesting developments with ULDs, the ability to have and use real time data is of great benefit.

Instantly knowing the location and status of every ULD in the fleet on any internet-enabled device can only bring operational efficiency to the process. And having sophisticated software that can locate a specific container at a specific location is certainly something that would not have been envisioned all those decades ago when ULDs were first utilised.

In the meantime, airlines, ground handlers, shippers and freight forwarders will continue to work on how to solve common issues relating to ULDs and cargo.

Congratulations to our friends and colleagues at Unilode for the well-deserved accolade!

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