Volvo Trucks showcases new Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks with zero-emissions

“We expect the supply of green hydrogen to increase significantly during the next couple of years, since many industries will depend on it to reduce CO2. However, we cannot wait to decarbonize transpo, we are already running late. So, my clear message to all transpo companies is to sta the journey today with baery electric, biogas and the other options available. The fuel cell trucks will then be an impoant complement for longer and heavier transpos in a few years from now.”

– Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks

Imagine a truck that only emits water vapor, produces its own electricity onboard and has a range of up to 1,000 km. It’s possible with fuel cells powered by hydrogen, and Volvo Trucks has started to test vehicles using this new technology.

Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks will be especially suitable for long distances and heavy, energy-demanding assignments.

To decarbonize transport, Volvo Trucks now offers battery electric trucks and trucks that run on renewable fuels, such as biogas. In the second half of this decade, a third CO2-neutral option will be added to its product portfolio – fuel cell electric trucks powered by hydrogen.

 

“We have been developing this technology for some years now, and it feels great to see the first trucks successfully running on the test track. The combination of baery electric and fuel cell electric will enable our customers to completely eliminate CO2 exhaust emissions from their trucks, no maer transpo assignments,” said Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks.

The fuel cell electric trucks will have an operational range comparable to many diesel trucks – up to 1 000 km – and a refuelling time of less than 15 minutes. The total weight can be around 65 tons or evenhigher, and the two fuel cells have the capacity to generate 300 kW of electricity onboard.

Customer pilots will start in a few years from now and commercialization is planned for the latter part of this decade. “Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric trucks will be especially suitable for long distances and heavy, energy-demanding assignments. They could also be an option in countries where battery charging possibilities are limited,” Alm explained.

Generates its own electricity—A fuel cell generates its own electricityfrom the hydrogen onboard instead of being charged from an external source. The only biproduct emitted is water vapor.

Fuel cells delivered by cellcentric—The fuel cells will be supplied by cellce ntric – the joint venture between the Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG. Cellcentric will build one of Europe’s largest series production facilities for fuel-cells, specially developed for heavy vehicles.

More green hydrogen needed—Fuel cell technology is still in an early phase of development and there are many benefits with the new technology, but also some challenges ahead. One of them is largescale supply of green hydrogen. Another is the fact that refuelling infrastructure for heavy vehicles is yet to be developed.

“We expect the supply of green hydrogen to increase significantly during the next couple of years, since many industries will depend on it to reduce CO2. However, we cannot wait to decarbonize transport, we are already running late. So, my clear message to all transport companies is to start the journey today with battery electric, biogas and the other options available. The fuel cell trucks will then be an important complement for longer and heavier transports in a few years from now,” Alm noted. Source: www.volvotrucks.com


Volvo Trucks: First in the world to use fossil-free steel in its trucks

Volvo has introduced fossil-free steel in its trucks, the first truck manufacturer in the world to do so.

The steel is produced by the Swedish steel company SSAB and the heavy-duty electric Volvo trucks will be the first to include it. The steel will first be used in the truck’s frame rails.

The steel from SSAB is produced using a completely new technology, based on hydrogen. The result is a much lower climate impact than conventionally produced steel. Small scale introduction of the steel in Volvo’s heavy electric trucks will begin in the third quaer of 2022.

“We will increase the use of fossil-free materials in all our trucks to make them net-zero not only in operation – but also when it comes to the materials they are built of,” said Jessica Sandström, Senior Vice President Product Management, Volvo Trucks.

The first steel produced with hydrogen will be used in the truck’s frame rails, the backbone of the truck upon which all other main components are mounted. As the availability of fossil-free steel increases, it will also be introduced in other pas of the truck.

90% of a Volvo truck can be recycled Today, around 30% of the materials in a new Volvo truck come from recycled materials. And up to 90% of the truck can be recycled at the end of its life.

“We are continuously striving to fuher minimize our climate footprint. We are also moving towards greater circularity in both our operations and our trucks,” said Sandström.

Volvo Group is collaborating with SSAB on fossil-free steel since 2021. The first machine, a load carrier made
of fossil-free steel, was showcased in October 2021. Fossil-free steel will be an impoant complement to the traditional and recycled steel used in Volvo’s trucks.

Volvo Trucks said it is commied to the Paris agreement and to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the value-chain by 2040, at the latest.

Enterprise Resource Planning: A ‘mission control’ for business functions in the air cargo industry

“ERP can be thought of as the glue that binds together the various systems that an organization might use. By having one application with one inteace, ERP allows the different depaments to communicate and share information across the organization more easily.” – Tristan Koch, Awery Aviation Soware Chief Executive Officer

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems facilitate the flow of information between functions
within an organization and its suppliers and customers. Air cargo companies have been using ERP systems for many years to manage and plan the movement of air freight cargo.

An ERP system for a cargo airline typically includes modules for: inventory and warehousing, freight forwarding, air cargo tracking, airplane loading and unloading and customs and border management.

Air cargo is a fast-paced, high-volume industry that needs a comprehensive ERP system to manage its complex operations. An ERP system can help air cargo businesses streamline their processes, improve communication, and make better decisions.

Some of the benefits of ERP in the
air cargo industry include:
1. Improved communication and coordination between departments.
2. Real-time data analysis for better decision-making.
3. Streamlined processes and improved efficiency.
4. Increased visibility into the supply chain.
5. Enhanced customer service.
6. Reduced costs.

The global enterprise application market size is estimated to be worth $259.51 billion by the end of 2022, according to a new study by Grand View Research, Inc., registering a 7.8% CAGR during the forecast period.

Tristan Koch, CEO of Awery Aviation Software, explains why ERP is a necessity in the air cargo industry and how it allows air cargo bus ines ses to manage their operations more efficiently and effectively, leading to a better customer experience in an email interview.

Integrating cargo work flow

An ERP software system can help businesses in the cargo industry manage and integrate their various processes and components in one place. Such a system can integrate all workflows from flight planning, crew management, flight manifests, sales, marketing, finance, human resources and much more.

“ERP can be thought of as the glue that binds together the various systems that an organization might use. By having one application with one interface, ERP allows the different departments to communicate and share information across the organization more easily.

“This allows the different departments to communicate and share information across the organization more easily. The Awery ERP is also valuable in creating efficiencies across the workstreams and in providing real time-shared information about the activity and state of different divisions, to enable quicker and better-informed decisions to be made,” explains Koch.

Web-based ERP solution

A good ERP system can make all the difference in air cargo companies, helping to manage and streamline operations, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. When choosing an ERP system, it is important to make sure it is tailored to the specific needs of the air cargo industry, according to Koch.

“Awery’s ERP applications can help a corporation become more self-aware and collaborative by joining up data and information about shipment management, sales, finance, warehousing, and people together. Awery ERP can provide a full turnkey solution tailored to a customer’s needs or it can connect different 3rd pay technologies used by each pa of a business.

“It helps reduce and remove costly manual duplication of data entry and incompatible technologies. For example, you can use Awery’s accounting package, or we integrate a 3rd party solution like SAGE. Each customer can define their own modular system.”

Awery ERP are now all cloud-based solutions using AWS (Amazon Web Services).

“We can, if a customer requires, offer physical server solutions. The advantages of cloud-based software is that it offers remote, web-based access making it a much more flexible tool.”

Moreover, an ERP promotes the free flow of communication across an organization and results in increased synergies between different business areas, increased efficiencies as processes are streamlined and information is readily accessible to those that need it; and reduced costs associated with outdated and ineffective technology.

Tristan states that adopting an ERP may be a costly endeavor, but the return on investment (ROI) may be achieved quickly. Most certainly, the benefits realized (e.g., increased productivity and reduced administrative costs) may far outweigh the costs to introduce an ERP.

Why the air cargo industry should adopt ERP?

Founded over 30 years ago, Awery has over 80 clients worldwide and it’s been widely used by the aviation sector across Cargo Airl ine s , GS SAs , Cha rt e r brok e r s , ECommerce providers and various other aviation service providers.

Geographically, Awery solutions are being used widel y a c ros s the European marketplace with existing and rapidly growing presence in Asia and the United States.

Awery has developed a number of solutions designed to be easily integrated with other providers’ software.

One of Awery’s key standout strengths is its ability to provide cutting edge technology to any organization regardless of that organi z a tion’ s own technologi c a l parameters.

“Additionally, we have differentiated ourselves from our competitors by offering our products either as a white label option, where customers apply their own branding and logo to our software, or as Awery technology available on the open cargo marketplace.

 

 

Our eMagic AI One of Awery’s key standout strengths is its ability to provide cutting edge technology to any organization regardless of that organization’s own technological parameters.

“We have developed a number of AI (Aificial Intelligence) tools that reduce a lot of the manual workload that has plagued the industry. for example conves inbound email text and images to digital transactions,” said Koch.

Integration with 3rd party systems to provide key connectivity is also essential as often clients require bespoke customization that relies on additional software. Awery provides that digital bridge.

Ensuring regulatory compliance

Koch said the visibility of your resources are critical to effectively managing them. And that data is the new global currency and utilizing this means more efficient processes. Regulation and security remain at the top of the agenda. Awery had successfully developed tools within its ERP that ensure regulatory compliance as well as on financial (reporting and tax requirements) and labor laws. Thus, using Awery ERP eliminates costly errors and, reduces manual processing of data and provides commercial advantages through business cycle synergies, real time analytics best user experience and quickest time to market. “At Awery, we provide a plug and play ERP solution. Expectations from today’s users are that it should be as intuitive as using your smartphone. We actually do UX (User Experience) testing of some of our products. For example, our CargoBooking portal which gives the best and easiest UX of any online Air Cargo booking portal, we trialed on my two daughters who as teenagers are used to being able to buy any product or service in a few clicks. With no industry experience within 15 minutes, they were able to make AWB bookings – that was when we knew we had got it right,” Koch concludes.

 

Net Zero by 2050, is it achievable?

Aviation contributes about 4% to human-induced global warming as jet fuel burn produces CO2, nitrogen oxide, soot, water vapor and sulfate aerosols. The industry’s progress in cuing emissions
to date is disappointing but by 2050, the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel or SAF will rise from only about 100 million liters in 2021 to at least 449 billion liters a year.

The question on everyone’s mind in the aviation industry is this: Is the goal of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050
achievable? Going by the intent, the answer is ‘Yes’. But the ground reality is that ‘the sector needs to massively step-up efforts on SAF’.

Scientists have been sounding the alarm bells that climate change is still the greatest threat to human health in recorded history. The Secretary General of United Nations Antonio Guterres has said climate change is a ‘crisis multiplier’ that has profound implications for international peace and stability.

Various research reports indicate that aviation contributes around 4% to humaninduced global warming as jet fuel burn produces CO2, nitrogen oxide, soot, water vapor and sulfate aerosols, all of which interact with the atmosphere and impact climate.

The aviation sector is aiming to reach netzero emissions by 2050, relying on SAF usage to rise from around 100 million liters (26 million gallons) a year in 2021 to at least 449 billion liters a year by 2050, a humongous challenge.

Aviation has to get its act right

Indeed, it is going to require huge efforts from all stakeholders. As per reports, the aviation sector’s progress in cutting emissions has been disappointing to date. For example, in February 2021, research on the world’s largest 58 airlines found even the best-performing ones were not doing enough to cut emissions.

At last year’s COP26 (Conference of Parties comprising 197 countries) climate change summit in Glasgow, the industry merely reasserted a commitment to a plan known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. The scheme relies on carbon offsetting, which essentially pays another actor to reduce emissions on its behalf at lowest cost, and doesn’t lead to absolute emissions reduction in aviation. It also encourages alternative cleaner fuels, but the level of emissions reduction between fuels varies considerably.

Achieving fossil-free flights requires replacing jet fuel with alternatives such as sustainable fuels or electric and hydrogen propulsion and that has to happen in double quick time. Governments, airlines, airports, OEMs and other stakeholders have to do more to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions. Curtailing emissions need a bouquet of solutions.

With passenger and cargo numbers going to explode and the number of airplanes that are going to be up in the sky, a lot more needs to be done in terms of fuel alternatives. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects overall traveler numbers to reach 4.0 billion in 2024 (counting multisector connecting trips as one passenger), exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels (103% of the 2019 total).

 

 

 

Airbus said that SAF is a carbon-reduction solution that is available for use in aircra and helicopters operating today. It is a “drop-in” fuel because it can be blended up to 50% with conventional jet fuel without any engine modification required.

 

 

 

 

 

7.4 billion parcels by air every year

On the freight side, IATA reported that 328 billion letters and 7.4 billion postal parcels are sent every year and airmail plays an essential role in their delivery. While the emergence of electronic communications caused a dramatic decrease in the number of letters sent, more and more parcels are delivered daily thanks to e-commerce and this is going to increase exponentially. So will aircraft numbers increase.

Boeing has forecast that a combination of 4.0% annual average traffic growth, measured in ton-kilometers, and a proven need for dedicated freighter capacity means the freighter fleet will grow by more than 60% over the next two decades.

By 2039, 2,430 freighters are forecast to be delivered, with approximately half replacing retiring airplanes and the remainder needed to meet projected traffic growth. More than one-third of these deliveries will be new wide-body cargo airplanes; nearly two-thirds of the deliveries will be conversions from passenger airplanes. This will be in addition to the passenger planes that will be in the sky carrying freight in the belly-hold.

In such a scenario, the challenge indeed is humongous. The CEO of Etihad Airlines, Tony Douglas has said, “The biggest challenge to commercial aviation is the commitment that’s been made to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

And the biggest stumbling block is the jet fuel which the aviation sector is highly dependent on and seemingly cannot do without it. Though aviation was becoming about 3% efficient each year, passenger demand was increasing at about 5%, thus the gap kept widening, requiring more planes up in the sky. It is only of late that we are hearing of SAF which are being tested and have had some successful flights.

Alternatives are expensive as of now

In a Guardian interview Dan Rutherford, Director of Aviation at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has said that advanced waste biofuels are cheap and has good life-cycle emissions, but its supply is limited. “Using these fuels exclusively for aviation would provide for only about 2% of jet fuel use in the European
Union and the United States of America.” Rutherford raises hopes by mentioning ‘electrofuel’ (made using clean electricity and hydrogen) could have an ‘almost unlimited supply’ but can be very expensive to make, as of now.

Airbus, Boeing and others working hard towards the goal

The two big aerospace behemoths – Airbus and Boeing – have made commitments towards ‘net zero’, but whether it is achieved by 2050 is a million-dollar question. Airbus believes that SAF is one of the aerospace industry’s best decarbonization solutions that can be used in both in-service fleets and the flying fleets of tomorrow.

Airbus said that SAF is a carbon-reduction solution that is available for use in aircraft and helicopters operating today. It is a “drop-in” fuel because it can be blended up to 50% with conventional jet fuel without any engine modification required.

Similarly, Boeing in February this year bought two million gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel from EPIC Fuels for its commercial aeroplanes’ operations in Washington state and South Carolina. The SAF purchase, which is claimed to be the largest by an airframer, is part of Boeing’s aviation decarbonization goal.

 

 

 

DHL in strategic collaboration for SAF

DHL Express, division for global courier, express, and parcel services, launched a strategic collaboration with bp and Neste to source over 800 million liters of SAF through 2026, expecting to save approximately two million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the aviation fuel lifecycle. To put that into perspective: it equals the emissions of about 400,000 passenger vehicles. And with that amount, DHL can fuel approximately 1,000 flights per year between Cincinnati (USA) and Leipzig (Germany) for about 12 years! “There is no way around sustainable logistics in the future. We are deciding today what kind of world we and our children will live in 30 years from now,” said Frank Appel, DHL’s CEO.

 

 

Boeing Environmental Sustainability VicePresident Sheila Remes said, “SAF is a safe, proven, immediate solution that will help achieve our industry’s long-term commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

IATA has said that success will require the coordinated combined efforts of the entire industry (airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers) and significant government support. The net-zero objective will be met through a combination of maximum elimination of emissions at source and the use of approved offsetting and carbon capture technologies.

While many in the aerospace industry are on course towards ‘net zero’ by 2050, the reality is that aviation presently makes up for about 4 % (about 900 billion tons of CO2 annually) of worldwide carbon emissions and this percentage is likely to go up with more and more people taking to the skies. And while efforts are on to reach the goal by 2050, we hope that the industry stays the course.

Air cargo carriers that are on course in reducing carbon footprint

Without exception, we believe, each segment of aviation is working towards reducing carbon footprint. However, there are a few global air cargo carriers who are leading from the front and seemingly on course to achieve net-zero emission by COP26’s deadline of 2050. These carriers include: FedEx; DHL; DB Schenker; Seka; Lufthansa Cargo; Kuehne+Nagel; Air France KLM; Martinair, among others. We have included two airlines from India – IndiGo and SpiceJet, which have taken steps in that direction.

Kuehne+Nagel joins Air France KLM Martinair Cargo SAF program

The program began with the launch of the first carbon neutral airfreight lane between North America and Europe on New Year’s Day. This initiative marks another step towards the commercial deployment of alternative fuel and the companies’ commitment to a sustainable future for aviation. The year-round transportation of all Kuehne+Nagel cargo on board daily Air France KLM flights from Los Angeles to Amsterdam will be fully covered by SAF.

This first carbon-neutral lane underlines the strong sustainability programs of both partners, Kuehne+Nagel’s Net Zero Carbon program and AFKLMP Cargo’s SAF program, which aim to connect people and goods through sustainable logistics. Yngve Ruud, member of the management board of Kuehne+Nagel, responsible for air
logistics, said: “The first zero emission route marks the beginning of our journey into CO₂ neutral air freight and is another step towards achieving complete carbon neutrality by 2030. At Kuehne+Nagel, we are ready to take leader ship and responsibility for the next generation of air transport and encourage our customers and industry colleagues to join us in making sustainable choices available.”

FedEx funds research on storing excess carbon

Global giant FedEx in its efforts to achieve carbon neutral operations by 2040 has pledged $100 million to help establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, where researchers will focus on ways to remove and store Earth’s excess carbon; Convert its entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet to zero-emission electric vehicles; Build on its FedEx Fuel Sense initiatives to continue working to reduce aircraft fuel consumption; and Continue to invest in alternative fuels which could reduce aircraft and vehicle emissions. By 2030, it plans to get 30% of its jet fuel from
alternative fuels.

FedEx Chairman and CEO, Frederick W. Smith has said “We have a responsibility to take bold action in addressing climate challenges. This goal builds on our longstanding commitment to sustainability throughout our operations, while at the same time investing in long- term, transformational solutions for FedEx and our entire industry.”

Lufthansa Cargo operates 100% SAF-powered charter freight

Lufthansa Cargo is one of the pioneers in the use of SAF. Last year, over 1% of fuel used by cargo aircraft was SAF. It has the distinction of operating the world’s only regular full charter freight connection that is 100% SAF-powered. Together with its partner DB Schenker, Lufthansa Cargo saves around 174 tons of conventional kerosene per week.

In October 2021, Lufthansa Cargo became a pilot customer of the world’s first production plant for power-to-liquid fuels in Emsland in northwest Germany. Together with the operator, NGO atmosfair, it is promoting the ongoing development and market launch of industrially produced, CO2-neutral PtL fuel.

Be s ide s tha t, Lufthans a Ca rgo i s continuously investing in modernizing its fleet. Since October 2021, it has switched completely to the Boeing 777F – today’s most modern freighter with the best environmental performance. It has placed orders for its even more efficient successor, the B777-8F, which we will start flying in 2027.

Similarly, its AeroSHARK technology, a special coating reduces the frictional resistance of an aircraft by more than 1%. From 2022, this technology will be rolled out across its fleet of eleven B777F freighters, saving around 3,700 tons of kerosene or about 13,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Also, it has used lightweight containers on its flights, leading to weight reduction of 14 kg per container and fuel savings totaling 2,160 tons per year.

DB Schenker’s greener logistics

DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo have decided to continue their fossil-free freighter flights between Frankfurt (FRA) and Shanghai (PVG). The joint offer towards greener logistics will extend until at least October 2022. By utilizing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and additional upstream compensation, they will save another 21,000 tons of CO2e.

The duo has saved 31,000 tons of CO2e since starting their cooperation end of 2020. The weekly flight rotation continues to be the world’s only regular full charter fully covered by SAF. DB Schenker has also become an ac tive member of theSustainable Air Freight Alliance (SAFA), which strives to encourage freight forwarders to partner in an effort to track and mitigate CO2 emissions during freight transport.

SEKO Logistics joins SAFA

SEKO Logistics has joined the Sustainable Air Freight Alliance (SAFA) to accelerate its global decarbonization program and help clients achieve their own sustainabilitygoals. The Sustainable Air Freight Alliance (SAFA) is a buyer-supplier collaboration between shippers, freight forwarders and airlines to track and reduce carbon dioxide
emissions from air freight and promote responsible freight transport. “We have a responsibility to join other global business leaders in this initiative because our industry must do more to protect our planet for future generations,” said James Gagne, President & CEO of SEKO Logistics. “

 

 

 

In October 2021, Luhansa Cargo became a pilot customer of the world’s first production plant for power-toliquid fuels in Emsland in nohwest Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian carriers not behind

SpiceJet and GMR Group are panering with Boeing and French companies respectively to explore oppounities for
development and use of SAF. French companies Safran, Axens and Airbus have teamed up with GMR Group to examine the development of SAF demonstrator, based on agricultural products. Similarly, Boeing is panering with SpiceJet and CSIRIndian Institute of Petroleum. They will work together to leverage SAF supply from CSIR-IIP and its production paners and licensees to help the airline decarbonize its fleet. India’s first international SAF flight with Airbus A320neo was by IndiGo in February this year. Mr. Ronojoy Dua, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to take delivery of this Airbus aircra which will run on Sustainable Aviation Fuel, as pa of our journey towards sustainable aviation. At IndiGo, we recognize the impoance of adopting sustainability in aviation and this is another step towards a cleaner environment. We look forward to embracing more such initiatives to reduce impact on the environment in line with our ESG goals.”

MAN Truck & Bus sets up large-scale production of batteries for electric trucks and buses in Nuremberg

Investment decision worth around EUR100 is of key importance for Germany as a commercial vehicle location. The factory has manufacturing capacities of over 100,000 battery systems per year.

 

 

MAN Truck & Bus is set to manufacture high-voltage batteries for electric trucks and buses in large-scale production at its Nuremberg site from 2025.

 

The company says it will invest around EUR100 million over the next five years at the tradition-rich production site for combustion engines. Production capacities will be expanded to over 100,000 batteries per year.

 

The investments in the development of battery production will secure 350 jobs with a promising future. MAN Truck & Bus says this important investment decision was made in close cooperation between the company and the employee representatives and with the active support of Bavarian politicians. The decision gives Nuremberg’s traditional location a clear perspective for the future.

 

Initially, the batteries, which along with the engines form the heart of electric commercial vehicle drives, will be manufactured manually at the MAN plant in Nuremberg in a small series production for about two and a half years.

 

Construction of large-scale production is scheduled to start in mid-2023 and to be completed by the end of 2024. MAN is thus laying the foundations for the large-scale industrialization of electric drive systems for trucks and buses.

 

The commercial vehicle manufacturer is receiving support from the Bavarian State Government, which has promised a contribution of around EUR30 million to energy research and technology funding for the period 2023 to 2027, provided that the funding and budgetary requirements are met.
These funds will be used to conduct research in battery assembly, cell chemistry and development, battery safety, and ultimately battery recycling to ensure the sustainability of the propulsion mode.

 

Industrializing e-mobility

 

Alexander Vlaskamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of MAN Truck & Bus SE, says: “We are now starting to industrialize electromobility and continue on our path to climate-neutral mobility in commercial vehicles. It is a ground-breaking location and investment decision for the next decades. At the same time, it is part of MAN’s transformation into a provider of sustainable transport solutions.

 

 

“This now paves the way for a commercial vehicle e-cluster “made in Bavaria”, consisting of the production of e-trucks at MAN in Munich, battery production in Nuremberg, research & development at both locations and excellent cooperation with the respective colleges, universities and institutes. With our investment decision, we are securing around 350 jobs at the Nuremberg site and hundreds if not thousands of jobs in Germany. Such important decisions can only be made in close cooperation with all parties involved from the employer and employee sides as well as politics.”

 

Markus Wansch, Chairman of the Nuremberg Works Council and Vice Chairman of the General and Group Works Council, adds: “Our industry is undergoing a profound transformation. Our workforce is rightly asking: What are the perspectives? That is why it is such good news that together we have succeeded in establishing battery series production in Nuremberg. This goes to show that the future of Nuremberg as a location will also rest on the pillar of electromobility.”


Complex but powerful batteries

 

The batteries are the result of complex assembly and real powerhouses: They are made of battery cells, which in turn are grouped into modules and combined in individual layers to form a battery housing (pack). This requires a high level of know-how and strict safety standards. Depending on the range, a heavy electric truck needs up to six of those battery packs.

 

This will initially give MAN’s e-trucks a range of 600 to 800 kilometers. In the next generation of battery technology, ranges of up to 1,000 kilometers are expected from around 2026. This will finally make the e-truck suitable for long-distance transport.

 

Around the middle of the current decade, the total cost of ownership for an e-truck and a diesel-powered one will be at the same level. MAN, thus, expects customer demand for e-vehicles to increase significantly by then at the latest – assuming the appropriate charging infrastructure is in place.

 

The production of heavy e-trucks will start at MAN in Munich at the beginning of 2024. The manufacturer has already put a small series on the road in 2019. MAN has also had fully electric city buses and vans on the market for some time.

 

Old MAN’s roots

 

The Nuremberg plant looks back on a long tradition. With a history dating back around 180 years, it is one of MAN’s roots. Trucks or components have been manufactured in Nuremberg for over a hundred years.

 

Today, for example, the site with its approximately 3,600 employees is responsible for the development, production, and external sales of all MAN diesel and gas engines.

 

With its “electrification”, a new chapter is now beginning for the Nuremberg production and development site, which will also increasingly take on tasks within the TRATON GROUP: With the start of battery production, MAN Truck & Bus is strengthening its position in the TRATON GROUP as a competence partner for electromobility. Images & Story from www.mantruckandbus.com

 

Captions:

Photo 1

Alexander Vlaskamp, CEO MAN Truck & Bus, Markus Wansch, Chairman of the Works Council at MAN’s Nuremberg site, Dr. Markus Söder, Minister President of the State of Bavaria, Ulrich Zimmer, Senior Vice President Production Powertrain, Marcus König, Lord Mayor of the City of Nuremberg, and Arne Puls, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Director at MAN Truck & Bus.

 

Photo 2

The MAN eTruck coming onto the market from 2024 onwards from series production will also receive battery packs “Made in Germany”.

 

Photo 3

The MAN Lion’s City E city bus will be supplied with battery packs from Nuremberg in the future.

India pushes for economic growth with launch of ‘PM Gati Shakti–National Master Plan for Multimodal Connectivity’

The approach is driven by engines of growth in the following seven sectors: Railways; Roads; Ports; Waterways; Airports; Mass Transport and; Logistics Infrastructure aimed at creating a $5 trillion economy.

 

By R. Chandrakanth

 

 

On India’s 75th Independence Day in 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government would launch ‘PM Gati Shakti Master Plan for Multimodal Connectivity’, a project for developing ‘holistic infrastructure’.

 

‘Gati Shakti’ roughly translated from Hindi means ‘Power of Speed’ and the government had speed of economic growth in mind.

 

The Prime Minister launched on October 13, 2021 in New Delhi, heralding a new chapter in governance, the Gati Shakti—a digital platform—that is expected to bring 16 Ministries including Railways and Roadways together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.

It incorporates the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN (regional air connectivity scheme) etc.

Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, agri zones are covered to improve connectivity and make Indian businesses more competitive.

It intends to leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) imagery developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics).  The intent is to facilitate last-mile connectivity of infrastructure and also reduce travel time for people.

Seven engines of growth

“PM Gati Shakti” is a transformative approach for economic growth and sustainable development. The approach is driven by seven engines – a) Railways; b) Roads; c) Ports d) Waterways; e) Airports; f) Mass Transport and g) Logistics Infrastructure.

 

All seven engines are expected to pull forward the economy in unison. These engines are supported by the complementary roles of Energy Transmission, IT Communication, Bulk Water & Sewerage, and Social Infrastructure. The approach is powered by Clean Energy and Sabka Prayas – the Central Government, the state governments, and the private sector together – leading to huge job and entrepreneurial opportunities.

 

The scope of the Master Plan will encompass the 7 engines for economic transformation, seamless multimodal connectivity and logistics efficiency. It will also include the infrastructure developed by the State Governments, with focus on planning, financing including through innovative ways, use of technology and speedier implementation.

 

World-class modern infrastructure

 

The projects pertaining to these 7 engines in the “National Infrastructure Pipeline” will be aligned with PM Gati Shakti framework. The touchstone of the Master Plan will be world-class modern infrastructure and logistics synergy among different modes of movement – both of people and goods – and location of projects. This will help raise productivity and accelerate economic growth and development.

 

The plan has been developed as a Digital Master Planning tool by BISAG-N and has been prepared in dynamic Geographic Information System (GIS) platform wherein data on specific action plan of all the Ministries/Departments have been incorporated within a comprehensive database. Dynamic mapping of all infrastructure projects with real-time updates will be provided by way of a map developed by BISAG-N.

 

The map will be built on open-source technologies and hosted securely on MEGHRAJ i.e., cloud of Government of India. It will use satellite imagery available from ISRO and base maps from Survey of India. The comprehensive database of the ongoing & future projects of various Ministries has been integrated with 200 plus GIS layers thereby facilitating planning, designing and execution of the infrastructure projects with a common vision.

 

Data of ministries on one platform

The digital system is a software where individual Ministries are given separate user identification (login ids) to update their data on a periodic basis. The data of all the individual Ministries will be integrated in one platform which will be available for planning, review and monitoring.

 

 

The Logistics Division, Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MOCI) will further assist all the stakeholders through BISAG-N for creating and updating their required layers in the system and update their database through Application Programming Interface (APIs).

 

Corporates as partners

 

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the Master Plan will give a new direction to the development of modern infrastructure through planning, implementation and monitoring, besides cutting down on time and cost overruns of projects.

 

He has asked the corporates to partner with the government and increase investments and contribute in the development of the country.

He underlined the lack of coordination among the stakeholders in the traditional ways of completing projects. “This was due to lack of clear information among the various concerned departments. Due to PM Gati Shakti, now everyone will be able to make their plan with complete information. This will also lead to optimum utilisation of the country’s resources.”

The Master Plan has over 400 data layers covering various infrastructure projects, both existing and proposed, and also information about the forest land and available industrial estate. The private sector can use this for their planning. “Due to which it will be possible to get project alignment and various types of clearances at the DPR (detailed project report) stage itself. This will also be helpful in reducing your (industry’s) compliance burden.”

 

High logistics cost can be reduced

He added that the logistics cost in India is considered to be 13-14 percent of GDP and this is more than other countries. The Master Plan has a huge role in improving infrastructure efficiency, he said adding that 24 digital systems of six ministries are being integrated through Unified Logistic Interface Platform (ULIP) and this will create a National Single Window Logistics Portal that will help in reducing the logistics cost. “Our exports will also be greatly helped by PM Gati-Shakti and our MSMEs will be globally competitive.”

 

The Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said the success of PM Gati Shakti will catalyse the multimodal connectivity in the country, leading to realise the vision of $5 trillion economy.

The Gati Shakti initiative will not only help in bringing more investment in the country but also help create great employment. The Union Minister said many countries all over the world, including those in South Asia, have focused on investment in infrastructure sector in the last 70 years and all of them have become developed countries now.

The Minister said that only 74 airports were built in the last 70 years, now 66 more airports have become functional in the last 7 years and India has total 140 airports. The cargo capacity in the ports had increased from 1280 million metric tons to 1760 million metric tons during the period.

16 new airports to come up soon

He announced that 16 new airports will be built in all five states of Central India including Rewa in Madhya Pradesh; and Ambikapur, Bilaspur and Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh. Nine airports will be built in Uttar Pradesh, one in Rajasthan and two in Maharashtra.

100 cargo terminals in three years

The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the budget this year said that 100 cargo terminals will be developed during the next three years under the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan. She also mentioned that 400 new generation Vande Bharat trains with better efficiency will also be introduced in the next three years.

Master Plan for Expressways soon

The Finance Minister also apprised that PM Gati Shakti Master Plan for expressways will be formulated in 2022-23, to facilitate faster movement of people and goods. She said that the national highway motorway network will be expanded by 25,000 km in 2022-23 and  2.5 billion USD will be mobilized to complement public resources.

The intent of the government is clear – to ensure last-mile connectivity to speed up the engine of growth. The growth in GDP during FY 2022 is estimated at 8.7 percent.

It must be noted that this expansion comes against the backdrop of a very low base as the economy contracted by 6.6 percent in the previous fiscal due to the impact of strict anti-COVID pandemic restrictions and measures. India is truly in a ‘Gati Shakti’mode.

3PL’s vital role in today’s delivery cycle

By Ayesha Rashid

The global third-party logistics (3PL) market was valued at $1,027.71 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $1,789.94 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 7.1% from 2020 to 2027. In 2019, the Asia-Pacific region garnered the highest share in the global 3PL market. (Source: Allied Market Research)

Pull Quote: “3PLs are companies that provide services such as packaging, inventory management and warehousing at a customer’s location for use during shipping. A 3PL service provider’s process can be as limited or as broad as the customer would like and customized to that individual customer’s needs. The process can be a simple as performing a basic ‘pick and pack’, and as complex as full supply chain management involving movement of the goods from origin through to warehousing, raw material provision, and supply management and warehousing.” – David Mallinson, UK Airfreight Director at Kerry Logistics

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Logistics is vital to any business. In fact, it has evolved to become the cornerstone of most companies. Shipping, storage, transport and other logistical processes are some of the important aspects that need careful planning and execution, with efficient warehouses playing a vital role in this process. Having an efficient 3PL provider ensures that your logistics requirements are met at all times.

Third-party logistics (3PL) is an essential part of a company’s supply chain. The 3PL provider handles a number of different services for its customers including transportation management, warehousing and distribution, inventory management, returns processing and compliance management.

3PL logistics is also a key part of supply chain management and its importance lies in the fact that it offers professional services to companies looking to outsource their logistics processes. If you’re looking for an effective 3PL, you need to recruit the right people and make sure they have the necessary skillsets to carry out the job.

The global third-party logistics (3PL) market was valued at $1,027.71 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $1,789.94 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 7.1% from 2020 to 2027. In 2019, the Asia-Pacific region garnered the highest share in the global 3PL market (Allied Market Research).

In addition, globalization has helped to establish a worldwide network of manufacturing activities. To keep it running smoothly, the demand for 3PL services is expected to increase. Furthermore, the scope of 3PL services is expected to grow during the forecast period, as productivity gains are realized. The growth of the global 3PL services market is also driven by the development of the e-commerce industry and the increase in reverse logistics operations.

David Mallinson, UK Airfreight Director at Kerry Logistics, explains to Air Cargo Update how a 3PL benefits a business.

A basic ‘Pick and Pack’

 

3PLs enable commercial shippers to outsource the majority of their supply chain management functions to a 3PL provider. This provides them with better control over and cost efficiency in their logistics operations.

The third-party supply chain model was developed in the 1970s when intermodal marketing companies began receiving packaged loads from shippers and handled those loads to railroads for delivery. In the decades since, the process has become refined and modernized with 3PL software that simplifies and streamlines the whole process for 3PLs and the companies that hire them.

“3PLs are companies that provide services such as packaging, inventory management and warehousing at a customer’s location for use during shipping. A 3PL service provider’s process can be as limited or as broad as the customer would like and customized to that individual customer’s needs. The process can be a simple as performing a basic ‘pick and pack’, and as complex as full supply chain management involving movement of the goods from origin through to warehousing, raw material provision, and supply management and warehousing.”

Moreover, companies that outsource their order fulfillment to a 3PL do not have to invest in and maintain a fleet of logistics assets. By outsourcing order fulfillment, companies can focus more on growing and developing their core business. While the process has become refined, modernized with software and technology, and streamlined over the years, it remains similar in many ways despite these changes.

FTL’s and LTLs in 3PL

For large shipments or volumes of goods that take up the entire truck, full truckload or FTL shipping is the best option. It is a truck that carries only the company’s shipment. Even if the company’s shipment does not take up the entire truck capacity, the company can still book an entire truck. This ensures that goods or cargo do not end up stuck with other products when being transported.

As the name suggests, LTL – Less than Truckload carries freight from multiple shippers rather than from an individual company in one trailer. The purpose of LTL is to maximize the truck’s capacity to the maximum extent possible. With less shipping requirements and fewer budget constraints, small businesses tend to favor this type of trucking load.

According to Mallinson, the role FTL and LTL play in 3PL, is essentially the last link in the delivery cycle in the process usually described as ‘final mile’.

3PLs play a vital role in today’s delivery cycle, providing the link between shippers and end customers. Fulfillment services and advanced logistics provide assurance that goods will reach consumers or businesses. Whether the product is going to the consumer or being used as an integral part of manufacturing process, they help ensure goods are delivered when they should be, intact and ready for use.

Role of technology

In recent years, 3PLs have embraced technology to tackle major challenges in the logistics industry. Shippers are demanding more from a logistics partner than just transportation: they need planning, processing and tracking capabilities that can be delivered through innovative technologies.

This provides fulfillment centers with greater visibility into shipments, allowing them to make fast decisions and keep their shipper partners happy.

With a tech-enabled 3PL, the shipping process is automated by having systems communicate directly with one another, therefore eliminating the possibility of human error.

Moreover, connected technologies help with increased visibility into the 3PL’s performance, as the fulfilment steps of picking, packing and shipping are directly linked to the software, allowing exactly how accurate orders are being handled.

In order to streamline shipping and order fulfillment, 3PL providers with a tech focus use a variety of advanced information technology tools to meet sellers’ requirements. Besides the traditional fulfillment services and logistics operations that 3PLs and other logistics companies provide, such as inventory warehousing, picking, packing, shipping, as well as value-added services, most 3PL companies provide updated technology tools in addition to the traditional fulfillment services and logistics operations. Additionally, they can provide software that integrates data from a variety of sources to give both the seller and consumer an understanding of the order fulfillment process as well as help with decision-making.

“The biggest advantage is that tech-enabled 3PL’s offer savings and greater flexibility and have a broader variety of solutions to hand that may not be available to the client currently.

“The use of technology is absolutely critical. Visibility alongside systems that are interoperable and above all easy to use, offers clients the maximum benefit and opportunity in improving their supply chains. Switching to a tech-based 3PL can provide greater flexibility with scaling up or down during peak/slack periods, saving costs and time in allowing the customer to focus on other core areas of their businesses,” Mallinson further explains in our email interview.

Smiths Detection: Making air cargo security a top priority

By Ayesha Rashid

“The HI-SCAN 10080 XCT has been qualified under the US Safety Act, setting limited liability for claims related to terrorism. It is TSA certified for high-speed checked baggage screening and EU/ ECAC EDS Standard 3.0 and 3.1 as well as TSA ACSTL approved. Moreover, technology to detect dangerous goods such as lithium batteries as well as flammable solids and liquids, compressed and liquefied gases can be seamlessly integrated to enhance this scanner.” — Harald Jentsch, Head of Airports, Baggage Screening & Air Cargo Screening, Smiths Detection

 

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the importance of air cargo security has become increasingly apparent. Air cargo security involves a wide variety of procedures and practices designed to protect the cargo carried on commercial aircraft from terrorist attacks or other threats.

One important air cargo security procedure is known as ‘screening’ which refers to the process of inspecting cargo for explosives or other dangerous materials. Cargo screening may be carried out manually or using automated screening equipment.

Another key air cargo security procedure is known as ‘vetting’ which refers to the process of verifying the identity of the cargo’s owner and the legitimacy of the cargo itself. This involves checking the cargo against various databases of banned items and terrorists.

Air cargo security measures are also designed to prevent cargo from being stolen or from falling into the wrong hands. In order to achieve this, cargo is typically screened and sealed prior to being loaded onto an aircraft.

The global air cargo security and screening market was valued at $687 million in 2021 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.0% during the forecast period 2022-2032 (Visiongain).

Harald Jentsch, Head of Airports, Baggage Screening & Air Cargo Screening, Smiths Detection, explains how there TSA certified product Hi-SCAN 10080 XCT is fully automated in screening and detecting air cargo threats at high speed.

Bomb detection

 

CT scanners were originally developed for medical applications, but were also first used for security scanners in the early 1990s. They are now increasingly being used in air cargo operations, especially when speed and efficiency are of utmost importance.

The HI-SCAN 10080 XCT is a next generation high-speed, explosives detection system (EDS) for hold baggage and air cargo. It features a dual-view dual-energy X-ray line scanner with full 3D volumetric computed tomography (CT) imaging and reconstruction. The HI-SCAN 10080 XCT has a belt speed of 0.5m/sec (98.5ft/min) and a large 107 x 81 cm (42.1 x 31.9in) rectangular tunnel. It is designed to be integrated into fully automated and networked baggage and material handling systems. This combination offers airports a throughput of up to 1,800 bags/hour and air cargo handlers the capability to screen 2,500 parcels/hour.

“The HI-SCAN 10080 XCT has been qualified under the US Safety Act, which sets limited liability for claims related to terrorism. It is TSA certified for high-speed checked baggage screening and EU/ ECAC EDS Standard 3.0 and 3.1 as well as TSA ACSTL approved. Moreover, technology to detect dangerous goods such as lithium batteries (iCMORE Lithium Batteries) as well as flammable solids and liquids, compressed and liquefied gases (iCMORE Dangerous Goods) can be seamlessly integrated to enhance this scanner,” explains Jentsch.

The HI-SCAN 10080 XCT combines an X-ray line scanner delivering 2D images with 3D volumetric computed tomography (CT) imaging.

The line scanner uses X-ray to penetrate air cargo goods and measure the absorption, delivering detailed material discrimination.

The CT gantry rotates at a constant speed as the baggage or cargo is carried through it on a conveyor belt. It spins around the object taking hundreds of views at slightly different angles and then reconstructs the raw scan data into volumetric 3D images using measurements based on density.

The combined comprehensive data is used to make precise measurements and very accurate judgements on substances within the bag.

Scanning process

 

Typically, there are two ways to meet the latest regulations – conventional, often standalone, X-ray scanners which require 100% manual image analysis; or in-line, automatic explosives detection (EDS) systems with Computed Tomography (CT) technology which only require analysts at the recheck stage. Both will deliver compliance but, operationally, there are considerable differences with high speed, in-line CT solutions offering the best outcome.

“Working to small two-four hour windows, air cargo handlers need to move huge volumes as quickly as possible using material handling systems. Although historically, standalone, X-ray scanners have been used for air cargo screening, by nature they are restricted in terms of speed. Firstly, belt speeds average around 0.2m/sec and manual loading and unloading is required and, in addition, image analysis is 100% manual. High speed, fully automated equipment (like the HI-SCAN 10080 XCT) delivers higher throughput and greater operational efficiency which suggests there is a strong business case for investing in a more sophisticated solution.

“At the start of the screening process, an automatic evaluation is made by the scanner. If the system produces an alarm and further assessment is needed, the images are passed to an operator who can make a quick decision based on 3D images which can be rotated for a 360 degree view. Due to the high level of automated detection and low false alarm rates only a few images require any operator analysis or intervention which, of course, speeds up the process and optimizes staff resources.”

If the automatic explosives detection capability of a scanner produces an alarm, the image is passed on to an operator for evaluation. Suspicious items are highlighted, and the high-resolution 3D rotatable image enables operators to make quick and accurate decisions. Additional automatic dangerous goods detection algorithms can further support operators by drawing a frame around, for example, Lithium Batteries, Jentsch explained further.

Future threats neutralized

 

“With our suite of scanning software and technology, a wide range of aviation threats will be detected. We deliver the solutions needed to protect society from the threat and illegal passage of explosives, prohibitive weapons, contraband, biological threats, toxic chemicals and narcotics. Our goal is simple – to provide the security, peace of mind and freedom of movement upon which the world depends.

“The main security threat for Air Cargo in terms of screening is, similar to the whole aviation community, that from explosives (IEDs – improvised explosive devices) in general and particularly homemade explosives. Especially as terrorists are becoming increasingly sophisticated in developing and concealing them. It is worth noting that about 50% of air cargo is transported on passenger flights.”

From a safety point of view, the growing use of Lithium Batteries and other dangerous goods poses another risk to air cargo industry; statistics from IATA have shown a strong increase of risks due to Lithium Batteries which can cause safety risks in Airplanes when not accurately packaged or secured against shortcuts as then can cause heat/fire incidents.

In addition to these threats, the tremendous growth in network connectivity and digital data sharing exposes more and more organizations to cybersecurity threats.

Cybercrime and data breaches are on the increase and the protection against them is a priority for all stakeholders. From both a social and economic standpoint, the consequences of any violation is grave, putting a huge responsibility on companies and public administrations to prevent such breaches.

Accordingly, legislators are ramping up national safeguards and standardizing processes and regulations. By strongly evolving its capabilities, Smiths Detection is able to detect explosives substances beyond regulatory requirements.

With usage of machine learning (ML), convolutional neuronal networks (CNN) – or generally with artificial intelligence (AI) the security industry now has additional technology tools to identify threats. The human operator also represents an important stage of the detection process, as they will be responsible for differentiating between threats and false alarms.

Securing threats

 

There are many factors to consider when it comes to air cargo security. New standards are constantly emerging to help ensure a safe and secure transport system. Security must be present at every stage of the transport chain, from start to finish.

“Security does not only begin at the aircraft. Security permeates the transport chain from start to finish. From shippers over forwarders and airliners through to industry associations and authorities, all stakeholders in the transport chain are challenged to assure that air cargo worldwide is 100% subjected to the same thorough security checks.

“Smiths Detection equipment has been fulfilling and exceeding international legislative requirements for air cargo screening and is committed to further enhance the security chain with its comprehensive range of detection solutions. A close security chain is increasingly becoming an integral part and a hallmark of quality for global trade activities in the future. As mandated by the authorities, air cargo on passenger aircraft has to be security screened. As a world leader in transportation security, notably airport X-ray systems used in the search for illegal or dangerous items.”

According to Jentsch, Smiths Detection is well experienced in providing air carriers and other stakeholders in the security chain with cargo security technologies tailored to fit their layer of security and to meet their respective legislative mandate.

Smiths Detection air cargo screening systems are designed for screening loose, bulk, containerized or palletized configurations. Experience has shown that air cargo is very much heterogeneous, starting from air mail and small parcels up to standardized container units. Depending on the respective logistics different approaches for the inspection of freight have to be found.

Smiths Detection offers adequate concepts for all different scenarios. In addition, Smiths Detection also provides services for the operator training and maintenance of the air cargo screening equipment to fulfill high equipment availability requirements necessary to keep that industry running.

“Technology-based security systems and methods, from X-ray scanners to explosives trace detectors, ensure the most effective and efficient detection of threats (versus manual inspection). For an industry that trades on speed, it is essential to ensure the smooth flow of goods as well as protect the quality of time sensitive goods that could easily spoil,” Jentsch concludes our email interview.

Despite the importance of air cargo security, many experts believe that the current system is far from perfect. One major problem is that the screening process is often seen as being time-consuming and inconvenient. Additionally, the cost of implementing and maintaining air cargo security procedures can be prohibitive for some small businesses.

Nevertheless, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made air cargo security a top priority, and new measures are being put into place all the time. In the coming years, it is likely that air cargo security will become even more important than it is today.

Daimler Truck reaches new milestone with successful test of fuel-cell truck with liquid hydrogen

The global trucking company says it prefers liquid hydrogen in the development of hydrogen-based drives as in this aggregate state, the energy carrier has a significantly higher energy density in relation to volume compared to gaseous hydrogen

STUTTGART, Germany: Daimler Truck reaches its next milestone on the road to sustainable transportation with the successful test of fuel-cell truck with liquid hydrogen, a prelude to the possibility of having more hydrogen-based drives.

Since last year, a Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck fuel-cell prototype has been undergoing intensive testing – both on the in-house test track and on public roads. Daimler Truck is now putting another prototype into operation to test the use of liquid hydrogen.

Political support for the development program comes from Daniela Schmitt, Minister of Economic Affairs of Rhineland-Palatinate, who opened the regional hydrogen week “WOCHE DES WASSERSTOFFS SÜD” (#wdws2022) on June 27 with a test drive in Wörth am Rhein, Germany.

A newly installed prototype filling station at the development and testing centre in Wörth enables the refuelling with liquid hydrogen. Recently, Daimler Truck celebrated the first successful liquid hydrogen (LH2) refuelling of the truck together with Air Liquide.

During the refuelling process, cryogenic liquid hydrogen at minus 253 degrees Celsius is filled into two 40 kg tanks mounted on either side of the chassis. Thanks to the particularly good insulation of the vehicle tanks, the hydrogen can be kept at temperature for a sufficiently long time without active cooling. Daimler Truck says it prefers liquid hydrogen in the development of hydrogen-based drives.

In this aggregate state, the energy carrier has a significantly higher energy density in relation to volume compared to gaseous hydrogen.

As a result, more hydrogen can be carried, which significantly increases the range and enables comparable performance of the vehicle with that of a conventional diesel truck. The development objective of the series-ready GenH2 Truck is a range of up to 1,000 kilometres and more. This makes the truck suitable for flexible and demanding applications, especially in the important segment of heavy-duty long-haul transport. The start of series production for hydrogen-based trucks is planned for the second half of the decade.

Comprehensive commitment to hydrogen

Daimler Truck says it is also working together with Linde on the development of a new process for handling liquid hydrogen (“subcooled” liquid hydrogen, “sLH2 technology”). Among other things, this innovative approach enables even higher storage density and easier refuelling compared to LH2.

The companies plan for the first refuelling of a prototype vehicle at a pilot station in Germany in 2023. Daimler Truck and its partners are planning for a high level of transparency and openness around the relevant interfaces of the jointly developed sLH2 technology.

The goal is to collaborate with other companies and associations as possible to develop their own refuelling and vehicle technologies that apply the new liquid-hydrogen standard and thereby establish a global mass market for the new process.

When it comes to infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations along important transport routes in Europe, Daimler Truck says it is planning to work together with the companies Shell, BP and TotalEnergies. Daimler Truck is also a shareholder in hydrogen filling station operator H2 MOBILITY Deutschland.

In addition, Daimler Truck, IVECO, Linde, OMV, Shell, TotalEnergies and the Volvo Group have committed to work together to help create the conditions for the mass-market roll-out of hydrogen trucks in Europe as part of the H2Accelerate (H2A) interest group.

On its path towards a CO2-neutral future Daimler Truck has clearly set its strategic course and is consistently pursuing a dual-track strategy in the electrification of its portfolio with both battery-electric and hydrogen-based drives. The ambition is to offer only new vehicles that are carbon-neutral in driving operation in its global core markets by 2039.www.media.daimlertruck.com

Fast-tracking freight in India

Commercial activities in India generate about 4.6 billion tons of freight annually, which results in over 3-trillion-ton-km of transportation demand costing US$100 billion. By 2050, the country’s freight ecosystem is projected to grow five-fold and will be critical in supporting its global trade, job growth, urban and rural livelihoods as well as clean air and environment.

By R. Chandrakanth

India needs to fast-track its available resources and infrastructure to seamlessly transport freight of all kinds across the country to support its ambitious economic and social goals while protecting its environment in the 21st century.

The NITI Aayog, which serves as the apex public policy think-tank of the Government of India, and the nodal agency tasked with catalyzing economic development, along with RMI, an independent nonprofit think-and-do tank pointed this out in its 2021 report, a roadmap for clean and cost-effective goods transportation.

India has been recognized as one of the world’s fastest-growing major economy for the past few years, due to rising demand for goods and services. The movement of goods across the country and beyond its borders has created economic opportunities for millions of Indians.

Today, the logistics sector represents 5 percent of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs 2.2 crore people. India handles 4.6 billion tons of goods each year, amounting to a total annual cost of over Rs. 120 billion. These goods represent a variety of domestic industries and products: 22 percent are agricultural goods, 39 percent are mining products, and 39 percent are manufacturing-related commodities.

Trucks and other vehicles handle most of the movement of these goods. Railways, coastal and inland waterways, pipelines, and airways account for the rest.

Government initiatives to improve logistics performance

Recognizing the critical role of the sector in the country’s future, the Government of India (GOI) is pursuing a range of actions to improve its logistics performance. These include the development of dedicated rail-based freight corridors, improvements to the capacity and connectivity of coastal and inland water-based shipping and airport connectivity through the regional connectivity scheme.

It is also looking at the buildout of road infrastructure projects such as Bharatmala and the Golden Quadrilateral, and the creation of supportive policies.

As national freight activity grows about five-fold by 2050, India’s freight transport ecosystem has a critical role to play in supporting India’s ambitious priorities. Some of these include international competitiveness, job growth, urban and rural livelihoods, and clean air and environment.

Energy consumption

The report said India’s cumulative energy consumption from freight transport between 2020 and 2050 under a business as usual (BAU) scenario will be around 5.8 billion tons of oil equivalent (TOE). However, India can reduce this energy consumption by 50 percent under an efficient scenario through three opportunity areas: Increasing the share of rail transport; Optimizing truck use; and Promoting use of fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuels.

These opportunities will also lead to reduced logistics costs; reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality; less truck traffic on roads, etc. India has set a target of reducing the logistics costs as a share of GDP from 14 percent currently to 10 percent by 2022, which can save up to 100 billion dollars.

India can save 10 giga tons of CO2, 500 kilo tones of particulate matter (PM) and 15 million tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) caused by freight transport by 2050. Improved mode share and efficient logistics can reduce the vehicular-freight activity by 48 percent in 2050 over a BAU scenario.

This new freight paradigm will also lead to higher economic growth, more employment opportunities, better public health, and enhanced logistics productivity, which will meet many of India’s development goals.

India’s logistics sector comprises over 10,000 types of products and has a market size of US$110 billion. It is expected to grow to a market of US$150 billion by end 2022.

India generates 4.6 billion tons of freight

Currently, commercial activities in India generate about 4.6 billion tons of freight annually, which results in over three trillion ton-km of transportation demand at a cost of US$100 billion. This demand for freight transport has been rising as the population has grown and standards of living have improved, leading consumers and business to demand and consume more goods.

Between 2015 and 2020, India’s GDP grew by 32 percent to 217 lakh crores —making India the sixth largest economy in the world. In the same decade, India’s population also increased by 5 percent, while freight demand increased by 28 percent.

With rising income levels, higher exports, a rapidly growing e-commerce sector, a growing retail sales market, and a projected GDP growth of seven to eight percent in the next five years, the demand for goods movement is also expected to increase at 7 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). As the demand for goods continues to grow, moving them is expected to increase to 15.6 trillion ton-km in 2050.

This activity will spur growth across freight modes, but especially in road-freight transport. This will lead to over three trillion kilometers travelled on Indian roads by freight vehicles in 2050. To meet this demand, India has been continuously improving its logistics system.

LPI score moves up

India had improved its score on the Logistics Performance Index (LPI), a World Bank tool, commonly used to measure a country’s logistics capabilities, from 3.07 to 3.42 between 2007 and 2016. This progress came from improving infrastructure, introducing policies and programs like Make in India, Regional Air Connectivity Scheme and incorporating technological and digital improvements in the logistics supply chain. However, much work remains to be done.

Despite being one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing logistics industry India’s LPI only ranks 44th in the world. This ranking can be improved by tapping into the opportunity areas outlined in the report.
While container movement in India is rising, the share of intermodal rail freight transport remains relatively low. While the total container traffic in India increased at a CAGR of 9 percent between 2010 and 2018, intermodal transport was responsible for a small share.

Over-the-road (OTR) truck transport ferried most of the containers from origin to destination. For example, in the Western region corridors, which account for 70 percent of India’s container movement, intermodal rail transport is responsible for only one-third of the share.


Multimodal transportation growing

With supporting government initiatives and market structure, the share of intermodal transport in India is growing. In 2017, the government sanctioned US$2 billion for building 35 multimodal logistics parks across the country.

These logistics parks are expected to handle 50 percent of the road freight activity and reduce total logistics costs by 25 percent. The Indian government plans to create a central authority called Multi-Modal Logistics Park Authority (MMLPA) with representatives from relevant ministries.

It is proposed to develop logistics parks in 15 cities with highest freight movement (covering more than 40% of the total road freight movement in India) 8 in Phase I of the program. Logistics parks in the next 20 nodes (accounting for 20% of the total road freight movement in India) can potentially be developed in the next phase. The MMLPA will help identify optimal locations and ensure MMLPs function correctly.

India has built a network of almost 300 Inland Container Depots, which are the key to enable multimodal transport as they enable better integration between road and rail and air too. The government has announced plans for new rail-side logistics parks and warehouses to upgrade freight terminal infrastructure.

India’s logistics costs are currently 14 percent of the GDP—higher than the United States and Europe. Over 90 percent of logistics costs are attributable to transportation and inventory management. To increase logistics efficiency, the report said it is essential to increase transportation efficiency by optimizing truck use and incorporating inventory management best practices in supply chains.

Obsolete Infrastructure and vehicles

Low carrying-capacity trucks make up the majority of India’s truck fleet. In India, most trucks are MDVs or smaller HDVs. In nations and regions, like the United States and the European Union, the truck market mainly consists of HDVs.

Trucks in India usually have smaller engines and thus operate at lower speeds. Most of the trucks on the road are old. About 34 percent of India’s truck fleet has been on the road for at least 10 years.

India’s roads are not well-suited for heavy vehicles. Only 54 percent of roads are surfaced with concrete,150 limiting the plying of heavy trucks for freight transport. Also, four to six lanes national highways are limited but growing.

Obsolete Technologies

Transportation practices like load planning and vehicle routing are not digitized, standardized and automated. For example, there is a limited use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking and a lack of real-time visibility into inventory flow.

The procedures and equipment to execute processes such as material loading, unloading, and storing are not standardized, leading to widespread use of slow, inaccurate manual processes.

There is a lack of automation of common warehousing operations. This leads to excess inventory holdings by decreasing the speed through which the goods move across the supply chain, and inventory loss as operators do not have proper visibility into inventory stocks and locations.

Fragmented market

India’s trucking market is highly fragmented. Around 75 percent of the market is run by small owner-operators who own up to five trucks. Only 10 percent of the market is run by big fleet operators who own more than 20 trucks.

Small players are unable to optimize driving patterns and have less ability to invest in larger trucks, digital tools and software, and the expertise required to operate them. This market structure leads to lower asset utilization and overloaded trucks.

The warehousing sector in India is also highly fragmented, with unorganized players owning 90 percent of the market. Most warehouses are small and local instead of regional. Few have accessible connections with national highways and multiple transport modes.

The report said that by optimizing truck use, truck utilization and load factors will be improved. Key levers to this change include policy moves like tax reform and logistics planning, technological development and deployment, and investment in improved assets such as better trucks and warehouses.

The report mentioned that the high-level impact of those reforms against a BAU scenario include: Annual VKT reduction of 81 billion km and 450 billion km in 2030 and 2050; Annual cost savings of US$10 billion in 2030 and US$70 billion USD in 2050; and Improved air quality and reduced CO2 emissions.

ACL Airshop: Leading global ULD business in embracing sustainability

The technology-enabled global leader in customized air cargo ULD solutions, ACL Airshop, has doubled its ULD operations footprint and tripled its lease-ready assets for its more than 200 airlines clients since the pandemic struck.

The South Carolina headquartered company whose products and services include pallets, containers, straps, nets, repairs, and innovative technologies such as “ULD Control” and FindMyULD now has over 70,000 ULDs from only 24,000 five years ago.

Its service sites have also grown to 55 of the world’s Top 100 air cargo hub airports. The company manufactures, sells, leases, repairs, and provides logistics & technology management services for customers’ cargo control assets.

Indeed, business has been blissful for ACL Airshop after suffering initial setback when the Coronavirus outbreak began. But with this much ULDs and a significant number of straps and nets at its disposal, the company also seriously takes its role in properly disposing its cargo products while promoting sustainability in the industry.

Sustainability is “everybody’s business”

Steve Townes, CEO of ACL Airshop, explains sustainability is now “everybody’s business” and that the company has taken many initiatives years ago to tackle this issue.

“At the IATA World Cargo Symposium in 2021 in Dublin, ACL Airshop was a leading onstage voice for sustainability issues and initiatives in the air cargo industry. The company will once again take on the same thought-leadership role in London for the September 2022 IATA annual symposium. Sustainability has now become “everybody’s business.” For our part, we already use thinner lightweight but FAA-approved pallets wherever feasible, and that reduces fuel burn for our clients,” said Townes, a well-respected serial entrepreneur who earned his engineering degree from the prestigious US Military Academy West Point.

ACL Airshop has also taken steps to reduce waste and energy consumption at its manufacturing and repair stations.

“Even in our own manufacturing and repair operations, we have undertaken Lean Initiatives to reduce waste and energy consumption. For example, we invested in new Dye Ranges in our cargo straps production lines, which eliminated over 12% of excess energy usage and allows us to produce more units with the same strength and quality, with that much less raw material. Across any company’s operations, a lean mindset and a deliberate focus on sustainability will cause new ideas and newfound efficiencies to be discovered,” Townes noted.

Adding, “Much of this comes down to “How does a company operate?” Has sustainability become a top-of-mind awareness topic in the management and the workforce? At a recent ULD Care online symposium, ACL Airshop (with ACL’s Jos Jacobsen as a Board member with ULD Care), made key points about ULDs and Sustainability, citing ways that equipment providers like ACL can help airlines’ goals in this regard with: Reduction in emissions, Improved efficiency, Improved image, more reliable Safety, and Recyclability. Small initiatives such as going paperless, using collapsible ULDs, mandating fuel-efficient autos and trucks in all company operations, making ULDs with recyclable materials, minimizing the use of one-time plastics for cargo sheathing on planes, ensuring that aged ULDs are recycled and re-purposed, using repairs to extend the useful life of pallets and containers—it all adds up.”

Recycle, Reuse & Repurpose

Townes, with inputs from Jos Jacobsen, COO & Managing Director-Global Leasing, and Wes Tucker, COO – The Americas & Manufacturing, explains, “Of the many thousands of ULDs that ACL Airshop owns, the predominant pallets are “PMC” and heavy-duty models—why? Roughly 70% of all air cargo flies palletized on freighters; hence, the Company decided decades ago to match its asset investments to that.”

And among the independent ULD management companies, “ACL Airshop is definitely the “kings of pallets.”
“On containers and specialized ULDs, the company’s predominant containers are LD-3, plus various specialty types such as Horse Stalls, stackable Car Racks, collapsible containers, and cool-chain temperature controlling ULDs with partners such as Sonoco Thermosafe,” said Townes.

And when these pallets and other metallic materials have reached their end-of-life cycle in the industry, they are not just thrown out. They are either recycled, reused or repurposed, to help the solve the planet’s growing environmental problems.

“Pallets and other metallic materials can be extended in their useful life cycle by performing regular maintenance and repairs in FAA and EASA certified repair station shops. If they reach the point of “beyond economic repair” or present any type of unsolvable safety issue, they can be repurposed into a variety of other uses that require aluminum,” said Townes.

“Cargo nets and straps can be repaired so long as they do not exceed their FAA-approved expiration date, or their damages do not exceed official standards for repairability. Once straps and nets reach the end-of-life for air cargo purposes, they can go to recyclers who typically reduce the materials to pellets, which then go into the manufacture of various non-aviation industrial products,” he added.

Stronger together in facing adversity

Despite the abrupt negative impact on their business during the initial phase of the pandemic, ACL Airshop didn’t cut its workforce, enabling their employees to sustain their families during what was described as the darkest period in mankind’s modern history.

And what was once perceived as a disastrous moment, the pandemic became a boon for the air cargo industry which was tasked to quickly deliver vital medical supplies, including the COVID-19 vaccines and other necessities.

By 2021, ACL Airshop’s resilience, persistence and commitment in the industry was greatly rewarded, with the upward trends resulting to the company’s best revenue performance in its 39-year history.

“ACL Airshop reacted swiftly and safely to remain in full operation during the pandemic. When it first began in 2020, our volume of business faltered just like the whole air cargo industry, but we did not over-react. It might have been tempting to release staff and slash costs, but instead we held firm and just “tapped the brakes” a bit, taking a calculated risk,” Townes recalled.

“As the resurgent freighter operations and even preighters began taking to the skies again, we accelerated with all our customers, maintained full employment, and steady production of products and services. We closed that year in solid condition. In 2021, the upward trends continued for ACL Airshop, it finished as the strongest year of operations in the company’s 39-year history,” he added.

With ULD business at an all-time high to help countries fight the menacing virus, ACL Airshop doubled its efforts to deliver what was needed in safely storing medical supplies and the vaccines. The company even invested millions more to demand growing demand for its products and services.

“The people of ACL Airshop showed admirable resourcefulness in fighting-through the pandemic, and the unprecedented rising demand for our ULD leasing services and manufactured products. We invested several millions more in growing our own ULD fleets in order to satisfy customer demand in every region of our global network,” Townes shared.

“Thankfully, although we had a few cases of COVID among employees, none were seriously grave and all returned to work, and a high percentage of the workforce are vaccinated. ACL Airshop is maintaining a very vigilant approach toward health and safety as pandemic variants keep emerging. We remain focused on speedy responsiveness to clients–everybody across the whole industry has similar challenges, so we are always ready to help meet requirements for extra pallets, containers, and logistics services.”

The company ramped up its production on in-house manufacturing of straps and nets, and nearly doubling its procurement of pallets and other ULDs from its supply chain in North America, Europe, Asia.

“We have found that it’s essential to give advance orders with more lead-time, and in some cases economic incentives to garner preferential delivery and pricing. We are one of the largest independent buyers of ULDs in the market, especially pallets, and we use our buying power to get the best deals we can for our customers. The global price of aluminum in the past 24 months rose to record highs, which affects all of us. So, we have become more creative and aggressive in our commercial practices,” said Townes.

GOING MORE DIGITAL

ACL Airshop was the first in the market to introduce Bluetooth tracking and tracing for ULDs. And now, it has also pioneered in linking the Airway Bill itself to the serial number of the Bluetooth tag and the serial number of the ULD.
“That was the “Holy Grail” for our multi-year technology roadmap, we have gone beyond Beta testing with a major customer—it works. That will give far better end-to-end visibility and efficiency to every shipper and every cargo carrier who uses these new tools,” said Townes.
“That type of data-rich knowledge is no longer just the domain of the giant global integrators. For us, this is a turning point, a major leap forward. The benefits that we hope to give customers include outright cost savings, logistics efficiencies, and better competitive speed. As one client said, “You allowed me to operate more flight loads per weeks with the same number of airplanes.” We feel it is a measurable benefit to “Do more with less”,” he further noted.
ACL Airshop has its operations centers in Amsterdam, Chicago ORD, and Hong Kong as the control nodes for these useful customer resources.

“That gives our customers 24/7 coverage with all of our logistics and technology services, and our readily deployable giant fleet of pallets, containers, straps, and nets. “When the customer needs some extras ‘in a pinch,’ we are the single best call to make in the air cargo industry,” COO Wes Tucker, explains.

As far as the air cargo industry is concerned, what do you think are its biggest challenges and how can these be overcome in your opinion?

Facing the challenges

But while the air cargo industry remains in high demand, business growth has slowed down due to unforeseen events such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the global recession, rising inflation, COVID mutations, higher cost of fuel, different conflicts across the world, among other issues.

“IATA says strong cargo demand and passenger recovery could make the global airline industry profitable in 2023, and the best bright spot has been air cargo. Air cargo business is slowing amid global macroeconomic pressures such as inflation, recession fears, continuing Covid variants, and of course the Ukraine War and other threats. 2022 is still shaping up as one of the industry’s strongest years ever with cargo revenues nearly double those before the pandemic, expected to tip towards “over $190 Billion” by year-end,” said Townes.

“Challenges to air freight include delayed factory production due to severe COVID lockdowns in China; the uncertainties and length of the Ukraine war; a worldwide drop in new export orders; shifts in consumer spending toward services as the pandemic abates, thereby softening the surge of e-commerce during COVID; high inflation; and backlogs & short-staffing at airport cargo facilities. The higher cost of aviation fuel combined with the re-routing of cargo planes around Russian air space is proving to be a costly bogey across much of the industry,” he added.

The ACL Airshop CEO said overcoming these challenges will take time and he believes the biggest wild card would be the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“The biggest wild card is Ukraine and Russia. Some pundits predict economic chaos if the war persists into a long protracted endless conflict. If the war seriously impacts Peak Season 2022, making predictions will become “anybody’s guess.” ACL Airshop management believes that world trade will continue, planes will continue to be the best way to keep critical inventories moving whilst trucks and ships sit idle, and the end of 2022 will see the dawn of a good new year ahead,” he said.

“Having said that, we do have contingency plans “just in case,” but as before, as an enterprise we do not knee-jerk at the slightest flutter, we stay steady then make decisions and act when it’s imperative.”

ACL Airshop is turning 40 in 2023

ACL Airshop will celebrate a new milestone in 2023 with the company marking its 40th anniversary. From its humble beginnings in 1979, mainly shipping horses, it has evolved into a global leader in ULD leasing, ULD sales, ULD repairs, ULD management, cargo nets and straps manufacturing.

Steve Townes, its CEO, who has led the firm to new heights since taking the helm in 2016, shared more insights on the company’s future trajectory in this brief Q&A.

What has changed since Alinda Capital Partners acquired majority shares at the company in 2021?

The new, huge majority shareholder has brought a longer-term infrastructure lens to our business plans, and that has made ACL Airshop better and stronger. They are among the world’s most successful investors in infrastructure, including transportation and logistics. They also have a successful track record of investment in pooled and leased equipment, and experience in backing growth-oriented companies. They are committed to ACL Airshop’s strategy of growing with its customers and share our vision for continued expansion in the coming years. ACL Airshop is the fastest-growing player in its competitive field, with a strongly amplified Brand Promise that customers know and appreciate.

The company will continue to dominate short-term Leasing solutions for ULDs. And invest steadily in growing the network of service hubs, in innovative logistics technologies, and of course in our people. Moreover, we have enjoyed the benefit of the enormous institutional size of our main shareholder, which allowed us in 2021 for example to roughly DOUBLE our internal growth investments above Plan, aimed at keeping pace with our customers’ demand factors. We pivoted, accelerated, and invested heavily. We could not have done that without such a strong institutional shareholder.

Further, we have now accelerated a corollary strategy to our short-term leasing “moat,” now we are also more-focused on selectively building a profitable portfolio of long-term multiyear ULD Management contracts. Long-term contracts require us to invest even more, and to adjust our commercial terms for competitiveness. We have won several such efforts even in the first year with these new institutional resources and strategic guidance. The merits of long-term recurring revenues are obvious, and that allows us to give clients ALL of the technology and logistics services that we have, thereby becoming even better strategic partners for the customer. By adding multi-year ULD fleet management programs to our offerings several years ago, we have grown in new ways with customers who may have started with short-term leasing solutions. Whether for a few weeks or five years, ACL seeks to remain nimble and cost-effective facilitators for its customers’ air cargo missions.

ACL Airshop is over-performing as a new portfolio company of its majority shareholder, and is maintaining its High-Performance Culture and speedy execution skills. We are also investing more in Training programs for our people, including a new Management Development cohort this year of emerging leaders, and sending a few senior executives to the Center for Creative Leadership. So, it’s the same vibrant company that customers have known for decades, but it now has “a bigger gas tank” and a stronger push on the accelerator.

The culture factor cannot be stressed enough: the DNA of ACL Airshop is different from many companies, remarkably positive, action-oriented. We take great care of our people, who in turn give terrific service to our clients. We pride ourselves in answering customers’ requests in minutes or hours, whereas some competitors take days or weeks plus “several committees.” Our new majority shareholder has assisted us greatly, AND recognizes the competitive value of having a superior employment culture.

What’s the latest with ACL’s global expansion quest? How many more locations were added to the company’s portfolio? What’s next for the company?

Five years ago, we announced that we would double the operational footprint of ACL Airshop in less than 5 years. We have done more than that, so far it has grown 20% more than doubling, and more are planned. Our latest quest started in India, two years ago pre-Covid. We scouted for in-country handling partners and wanted to focus on which major airport hubs would be best for our customers.

As we stand today, we plan to announce the first airport in India perhaps even yet this year (2022), with likely expansion to a second major city next year. Delhi and Mumbai are high on our list. More details will be revealed when we make final decisions—delays are due to the challenging array of geopolitical events currently affecting the whole world, along with the seemingly endless variants that keep emerging in the pandemic.

We are also exploring potential acquisitions of complementary companies that operate in what we will call “airport- and airline-centric adjacencies.” We have a small toe-hold in cold chain, we know we need to do more. If you think of ACL Airshop as an equipment-based hybrid solutions company at airports for airlines, it opens the thought aperture as to “what would be a good strategic fit?” We are scouting for deals.

What’s your hope for the air cargo industry given that its role in facilitating global trade and humanitarian efforts is increasing?

Many of our customers are acquiring more cargo freighters, new and used. Planes are being pulled from desert storage for conversions at large modification centers. Manufacturers are planning more dedicated cargo models. These are all leading indicators at the top of the aerospace food chain, we watch those signals closely. We believe that the COVID pandemic has created tectonic shifts in the way we work, travel, and ship goods.

Permanent changes in how goods move around the world’s economies. There now are stronger links happening in the triumvirate of ocean shipping, ground logistics, and air freight—which portends more strategic growth for air cargo in that blended and eventually seamless ecosystem.

We will track closely with our air cargo customers. We will invest in more ULDs to serve their growing fleets. We will invest in more hub locations to serve their expanding route structures. We will invest in efficient technologies to make their cargo operations more efficient for their end-user shippers. And we will keep investing in our own people to ensure that we can quickly and cost-effectively deliver, every day, everywhere.