This young CEO is into CrossFit and reading books

Rob Watts is not even 30 yet he’s been named the CEO of Aerotask, a growing aviation consultancy firm based in Dubai that provides bespoke solutions across a range of business management and financial strategies.

In February of 2019, the UK-based ACC Aviation Group acquired Aerotask mainly to support its ongoing expansion into Asia, Africa and the United States. The move also reinforces its presence in the Middle East, complementing its capabilities across ACMI leasing, air charter, aircraft interiors aftermarket, aviation asset management as well as providing strategic advisory services.

The acquisition had also turned Watts into Director of Advisory at ACC Aviation Group since March of 2019.

One of the most sought after young speakers and lecturers in the industry, Watts specializes in aviation accounting and finance enabling him to constantly travel across the world.

Coming from a military family from Alberta, Canada who shifts from one place to another in the line of duty, traveling is nothing new to Watts who finds aviation fascinating and dynamic.

“I was born and raised in Canada and I came here (Dubai) after high school. My family is military so we go city by city,” he shared.

Watts can talk endlessly about the complex aviation industry in different parts of the world with substantive insights and analysis, in particular financing, management and innovative solutions.

“Africa definitely has huge amount of potentials if you look at the size of the continent and the requirements for air travels and its populations. Nigeria in particular is gigantic and has huge potentials. But the challenges are also a lot. There are lots of regulations that make it difficult for airlines to enter the market. There’s a huge capital needed to launch an airline and there’s not as much capital available in Africa compared to other parts of the world and people outside of Africa view it as high risk than it actually is,” Watts briefly said about Africa’s aviation industry.

This young CEO who took his Bachelor of Commerce Major in Accounting and Finance at the University of Wollongong in Dubai remains modest despite his quick ascend to the corporate world and the global aviation industry.

“Yes, I am young,” said Watts, a Canadian, when Air Cargo Update pointed out he seems young to be given the responsibility of a CEO in a growing aviation firm with a global footprint. “I think I’ve been given great opportunities. I’ve just been at the right time and at the right place.”

Watts said he was part of Aerotask’s starting team and worked his way up before he was entrusted the position of CEO a year ago.

“It’s a very big task and there are a lot of decisions to be made but I have a very good team. I’m more of a cheerleader,” he modestly said.

To stay healthy and in shape, Watts shared he does “crossfit” also known as the “sport of fitness” which involves varied, high-intensity functional movements primarily to condition the body and build strength.

“I’m into CrossFit to keep in shape and build the business,” said Watts.

He’s also into reading. But at the time of the interview,Watts says with a smile he has 15 books “waiting to be read but not read yet” given his busy schedule.

Dubai aces first citywide run with help of tech

DUBAI: A section of one of the busiest roads in the world , the Sheik h Zayed Road, was closed down on November 8 for the first time as some 70,000 runners of all ages , nationalities and abilities took part in a one-of-a-
kind free run for the city dubbed Dubai Run 30×30.

The event is part of the 30-day Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC), launched and championed by His Highness SheikhHamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, which seeks to inspire residents to get fitter and heathier through 30-minute workout for 30 days. This year’s Challenge ran from Oct 18 to Nov 16, 2019.

DFC’s inaugural launch in 2017 had a million registered participants’ thanks in part to the Dubai Fitness App which helps people monitor their workouts, explore free classes and fitness sessions, among other features.

“Today marks a milestone in our mission to make Dubai the most active city in the world – together as one society. I commend the enthusiasm and energy of our people and I am proud of how the people of Dubai – across ages, nationalities and abilities – have come together to create such an inspiring event. Congratulations to all those who accepted the challenge,” said Sheikh Hamdan.

This marks the first time that people have been allowed to run on a section of the 14-lane highway, giving participants a unique, on-foot perspective of iconic sights such as the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Opera, The Dubai Mall and Emirates Towers as they come together to demonstrate their commitment to an active lifestyle and DFC’s vision to make Dubai the most active city in the world. The Dubai run event featured two courses—a 5km and 10km route.

Trucking industry fights back to curb rising cargo crimes in EMEA

Some 1,485 incidents of cargo crimes were recorded in Q2 2019 in EMEA with losses valued at over €21 million or a daily loss of €231,304, up 744.7% than the same period in 2018

Cargo crimes in EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa ) disturbingly increased in the second quarter of 2019 with 30 countries reporting incidents of theft, setting a new record high with major losses estimated at more than €21 million, reported the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) EMEA

In Q1 2019, TAPA EMEA said it also recorded an increase on cargo crimes in the region. Combined, Q1 and Q2 2019 registered 4,187 crimes, surpassing the 2018 total by 5.1% and shows a total value for incidents with for more than €55 million or an average of €305,605 per day.

Reports about other incidents continues, particularly in Africa. Just weeks after TAPA EMEA’s regional conference in South Africa highlighted the support the Association can offer to companies trying to increase the resilience of their supply chains, the The South African Police Service (SAPS) shared the country suffered nearly €18 million losses in cargo thefts just weeks after TAPA EMEA held its regional conference in Johannesburg.

The loot included high value jewelry worth over €17 million in Sandton , Gauteng province . According to media reports on the crime, the thieves forced their way into a luxury goods warehouse and overpowered the staff, destroying the building’s security doors in the process,before escaping with diamonds, earrings, necklaces and watches.

With the investigation ongoing, one of the key questions to be answered by police is why the facility’s CCTV cameras were reportedly not working at the time of the crime.

TAPA said five countries recorded double-digit losses in August:

Over 50% of the goods stolen were recorded as either unspecified or miscellaneous but, of the 14 TAPA  IIS product categories suffering losses during the month, the top five were:

The majority of incidents involved cases of Theft from Vehicle, 112 crimes or 64.8% of the August total. Only two other types of incident recorded more than 10 crimes

Aligning secure parking standard with EU program TAPA says it will explore the benefits of aligning its Parking Security Requirements ( PSR ) industry standard wit h the European Commission’s new Safe & Secure Parking Places for Trucks program to establish a common solution to help tackle the biggest cause of rising cargo crimes in Europe.

The Association – the leading Security Expert Network for everyone in the supply chain – agreed to look for ‘a common understanding on the best way forward for secure parking’ at a conference in Rotterdam hosted by TAPA EMEA for Parking Place Operators (PPO) and also attended by a diverse group of supply chain industry stakeholders.

Delegates at TAPA’ s PPO conference in the Netherlands heard updates from the Association’s President & CEO, Thorsten Neumann and members of TAPA’s Standards Team as well as from Frederik Rasmussen, Deputy Head of Unit – DG MOVE, European Commission, and Ton Barten of Truck parkings Rotterdam, one of the PPOs already participating in the TAPA PSR program.

As a result of the proactive actions taken by TAPA and the EU, we now see a unique window of opportunity for a significant step change in secure parking in Europe. Our conference in Rotterdam was to test the feeling of industry on the best way forward and we all recognized the value of having one common standard for secure parking.

TAPA launched its Parking Security Requirements (PSR) 12 months ago, a tiered certification program for PPOs to help drive significant growth in the number of secure parking sites in Europe and the wider EMEA region. Designed by industry experts to meet the needs of manufacturers and logistics service providers, PSR also provides TAPA members with an online route planning tool to easily identify parking sites participating in the program, alongside cargo crime intelligence to map the level of risk along their intended routings.

TAPA’s database currently lists some 5,000 secure parking places in 10 countries in the EMEA region.

Similarly, the EU has listed secure parking places for trucks and commercial vehicles as one of its top priorities, having identified that truck operators and drivers in Europe are confronted with an insufficient number of parking facilities and often park in non-secured zones or unsafe locations, increasing the risk to driver safety as well as vehicle and cargo thefts.

Its ‘Safe & Secure Parking Places for Trucks’ study has now defined an action plan with a certification framework and funding opportunities to increase the overall number of safe parking places and to help optimize existing capacity.

The EC’s Safe & Secure Truck Parking Audit will be available later this year and offer a one-stop website for parking place owners, auditors and audit entities. The EU will share more information of its funding program at a conference in Brussels on 7 November.

Thorsten Neumann said: “As a result of the proactive actions taken by TAPA and the EU, we now see a unique window of opportunity for a significant step change in secure parking in Europe. Our conference in Rotterdam was to test the feeling of industry on the best way forward and we all recognized the value of having one common standard for secure parking.

“Having already collaborated with the European Commission study, we are keen to take this to the next stage and see how we can further leverage TAPA’s partnership with the EU to bring the most robust secure parking program across the continent.”

“We will continue to move forward with our own PSR Security Standard while our discussions with the EU continue but we can see a lot of common ground to align our respective programs and provide a solution to satisfy the high demand for all levels of secure truck parking. We are confident that by working together we can meet our shared goal of making supply chains safer and more resilient.”

Last year, TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) recorded its highest-ever number of incidents involving criminal attacks on vehicles parked at 2,342 crimes in the EMEA region, accounting for 58.8% of incidents reported to the Association in 2018. This upward trend has escalated further in 2019, with half- year data showing a further 167.6% year-on-year rise in crimes in unsecured parking places.

Q&A with Liana Coyne

Follow your passion. Do not allow other people’s limitations determine what you can or cannot do. Take every opportunity you can to learn. Keep trying and keep pushing so that you are not just the best woman for the job, but you are the best person for it – airplanes and cargo don’t care about your gender, they care about results.

ender imbalance in the global air cargo industry, which accounts for one-
third of all goods transported worldwide every year, remains very visible though the barrier for women have long been broken.
On many occasions, you will see only a handful of women executives participating in meetings or events, including female journalists covering the industry in contrast to the mainstream beats like business and politics.
In this edition, we speak candidly with Liana Coyne, Director of Coyne Airways, whose father, Larry Coyne, founded the company, the first of its kind in the emerging markets of the Caucuses, Central Asia and Russia’s Sakhalin Island, more than 25 years ago.

An Oxford graduate and an English-qualified lawyer, the multilingual Liana is one of few women in the air freight industry mirroring its changing dynamics where results are given more emphasis rather than gender. She helps oversee Coyne’s operations throughout the Gulf and Central Asia as well as difficult to reach destinations like Afghanistan, Iraq and various destinations in Africa.

Read on the rest of our interview with this progressive decision-maker juggling time between her family, work, friends and other interests.

Q. The air cargo industry has t r a d i t i o n a l l y b e e n m a l e – dominated and you’re one of few women in the top management level. What convinced you to take on the role of Coyne Airways director when you could have easily nurtured a career in the legal profession, after all, you’re an accomplished Oxford law graduate and had practiced being a lawyer in the past?

My father, Larry, established Coyne Airways 25 years ago, initially working out of a spare room at home. My father had a background in m a n a g e m e n t c o n s u l t a n c y a n d realized early on that whatever we did, had to deliver value to the client, be professional and stand for quality. That is why he put our name on the company; it could not be allowed to fail and it had to stand for something good – my father is one of 11 children and there would be simply too many relatives to apologize to otherwise.

Growing up, Coyne Airways was my father’s enduring obsession. Quite simply, it had to be. We are a niche operator and we do not have the luxury of resting on our laurels, secure in the knowledge that the business will just come to us. Many family dinner conversations were dominated by talk of air cargo (in fact, they still are).

My parents were keen for my sister and I to develop a strong work ethic. That meant that we were not given pocket money, we earned it. I spent many school holidays in my father’s office, and I would credit those times with my decision to study Russian at A-level and for my first year of university (although it is very rusty these days). The world of air cargo was filled with larger-than-life characters, drama and challenges, that played out on a daily basis. It was heady and intoxicating, but it was my Dad’s thing.

Like many children, I wanted to set off on my own path and it actually never occurred to me to join CoyneAirways. Besides, my parents never put any pressure on us to join or carry on their businesses and only told other people of their true wishes behind our backs. I studied Russian in my first year of university, and then switched to Politics, Philosophy and Economics. My graduation coincided with a recession and the closure of many training schemes. I did a personality test and (in probably a terrible commentary on my character) it suggested becoming a lawyer. I found an international law firm to fund my further study and train me, and I looked forward to a quiet life poring over tax codes and the like.

However, as a carrier focusing on difficult-to-reach destinations, our work can be difficult and very stressful – otherwise someone else would do it! As time went on and particularly after we had difficulties in the Dubai office, I could see that the stress was beginning to affect my father. I thought long and hard about it, and realized that it would provide him some peace of mind and relief to know that there would be someone he could trust there. From my side, I was never going to love any boss as much as I love my Dad and, worst case scenario, I could always go back to law after a year. Almost 10 years later though, I am still here and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q. Do you see yourself one day going back to the legal profession? Why or why not?

Absolutely not. Don’t get me wrong, I loved law when I practiced it, but you are always on the sidelines. In logistics, you have to get involved and you have to find a way to make it work. It is entirely engaging and the people are great.

Q. Please describe to us how it is to work in the air cargo industry. Its joys and perils.

One of the joys about air cargo is the people who work in it. You will struggle to find a group that is more passionate and proud of what theydo. Every day is different, and there is always something new to contend with – especially as things can change over night : geo politics,natural disasters, operational issues – they all conspire to keep life interesting.

In terms of perils, I would mention two to be aware of: first, I think that you cannot think of air cargo as a ‘normal’ commercial environment. You have to remember that some of your competitors have other priorities over making a route profitable; there may be a political directive that they have to fly to a certain destination, they may have hours to burn, or there may be some ‘creative’ accounting at play to make a route look interesting when it is not. It is important to understand the dynamics and strategies of different entities.

Secondly, when you are in the industry, I think you have to be mindful that the inevitability of airfreight is a fallacy. We are the most expensive mode of transportation by far and we have to make sure that our service justifies the higher cost. That means, as an industry, ensuring that cargo arrives safely, securely and timely. Shippers will look for cheaper and better alternatives if we fail to deliver on basic promises,let alone value-added ones. We have to embrace improvements and keep looking for more. We have to lead the charge.

One of my best friends works in shipping and it is amazing (if sometimes worrying) to hear about the improvements happening there. In particular, there has been a lot of i n v e s t m e n t a r o u n d s h i p p i n g pharmaceuticals, which at one point were reassuringly assumed to always go by air. I am also fascinated by ethylene control technologies for shipping containers which preserves fruit and vegetables in transit. In short, I don’t think that we can assume that anything will always be air cargo.

Q. What advice would you give women who would like to build a career in the air cargo industry or aviation in general?

Go for it! Follow your passion. Do not allow other people’s limitations determine what you can or cannot do. Take every opportunity you can to learn. Keep trying and keep pushing so that you are not just the best woman for the job, but you are the best person for it – airplanes and cargo don’t care about your gender, they care about results.

Q. On a personal note, how has motherhood changed your outlook in business and in life in general?

Aside from a renewed love of sleep, motherhood has given me a greater understanding of all the demands that working parents have to contend with and a deeper appreciation of my colleagues ‘ commitment and dedication to their roles at work and at home.

Q. Coyne Airways is looked up to as the first of its kind in the emerging markets of the Caucuses, Central Asia and Sakhalin Island more than 25 years ago. What is your vision for the company in the future? Please share with us the latest developments on its products and services.

We hope to launch our new website shortly, which will also have improved track and trace capability as we combine forces with Descartes. That functionality will also copy over to our app, and other automated services.

In the New Year, we hope to bolster our services to the Caspian Sea region with an additional rotation to our hub in Tbilisi, Georgia, to better serve our customers there and in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Western Kazakhstan.

India turns to drones to deliver emergency aids, meds and organs

India is vast and diverse with a huge population of more than 1.366 billion people. And it has long been battling problems with transportation, bad roads, with 33 percent of the country’s villages still do not have access to all-weather roads, limited healthcare resources, among other issues with infrastructure and basic social services. Recently, it turned its sights to drones to deliver emergency aids, medicines and organs to reach even its remotest villages. Drones are no longer limited to military use. Its scope of use iAs unending and the opportunities are huge no matter where you are.

Apollo Hospitals Group, one of India’s top hospital chains, has tied up with US-based Zipline to launch drone healthcare delivery solutions, after getting impressed by its impact in Rwanda’s healthcare system and most recently, in Ghana.
The Group will explore and leverage drone technology to deliver emergency aids and organs. The concept was formally introduced by Apollo Hospitals Joint Managing Director Sangita Reddy at the recent World Economic Forum held in New Delhi. The idea of using drone in medical care has been under plan for the last couple of years.

The Indian state of Telangana will launch the program to see that delivery of blood and other life- saving drugs are transported through drones. The concept will be launched with a six-month pilot project first, for which a request for proposal has been floated.

There are plans to integrate Telangana’s healthcare delivery systems as it moves along. The private partner will be HealthNet Global Limited , acompany of Apollo Hospitals Group.Saving lives Reddy, who is also the Senior Vice
President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industries, believes drones would greatly contribute to saving lives in India, especially those in remote villages.

“Apollo Hospitals Group company HealthNet Global Limited truly believes that the use of drones for transport of organs and other medical aid will contribute to saving many lives. We are happy working with the World Economic Forum and the government of Telangana, as a clinical partner in this drones project, which I am sure is the next step in our journey of remote healthcare delivery,” said Reddy.

This is indeed good news in India’s healthcare segment where last mile delivery of life-saving medicines is a challenge. And Zipline has already proven in Africa how it can disrupt for the better the delivery of medical supplies as was the case in Rwanda and Ghana.

Zipline’s roaring success in Rwanda One must watch the Ted Talk of Keller Rinaudo, the co-founder and
CEO of Zipline, where he talks about how drones are changing the healthcare eco-system in Africa where most people dread to even think of deploying technologies in this part of the world. The enterprise they are creating in Africa is impressive.

Zipline started in 2014 and has built the world’s fastest and most reliable delivery drone and the world’s largest autonomous logistics network. Its drones are assembled in Half Moon Bay, California. Till date, the company has flown over 2 million km and it is not stopping there. It’s going more global.

Keller Rinaudo said Zipline delivers about 20 percent of Rwanda’s blood supplies through drones and the best part is zero units of blood have expired in all the deliveries. The average delivery times are between 20 and 30 minutes.

The co-founder acknowledges the efforts of the Rwandan government and the people for embracing this radical technology. Zipline is providing 13 million people with instant access to urgent medicines and its mission is to provide every human on earth with immediate access to vital medical supplies.

A Zipline drone typically has a 1.8 kg payload and a single flight can deliver up to 3 units of blood. For larger orders, multiple drones are sent at the same time.

Drone delivery network

Zipline states that today, too many people are underserved by last century’s limited solutions: trucks, trains and washed-out roads. The company leap-frogs these outdated solutions with a cost-effective drone delivery network, revolutionizing access to healthcare.

It is a simple but technology-driven solution. The distribution pattern is easy to understand. Doctors place orders on-demand through an app for any medicine they need, when they need it. Medical products which are stored centrally at Zipline’s distribution centers are flown quickly to any destination, as per demand.

This maintains cold-chain and product integrity, while eliminating waste. Zipline packages the order, then launches it into flight. Racing along at over 100 km/h, vital products arrive faster than any other mode of transport. The drones are unmanned and are battery-powered, thus reducing the cost and emissions of moving medicine.

All weather delivery

The medicines are delivered by a parachute and recipients do not interact with the drone, while everything is taken care of from the launch/distribution center. After delivery, the drones get back to thedistribution center, for its next trip. Zipline has refined this process to support hundreds of deliveries per day, per distribution center, in all weather conditions.

In Rwanda, Zipline has been making lifesaving deliveries every day. Dozens of hospitals and health facilities now rely on Zipline’s vital service to improve patient care. “Our drones now cover the country, giving doctors instant access to critical medical products, like blood and vaccines, that were previously out of reach.”

Because of Zipline, thousands of children will grow up with their mothers, women who would have otherwise lost too much blood due to postpartum hemorrhage.

“Our rapid response times and ability to deliver even the rarest blood types have helped Rwanda to make massive strides in reducing maternal mortality rates,” Zipline states.

In April 2019, Ghana also turned to Zipline for its healthcare needs. Zipline plans to reach out to the country’s 29 million population with access to any medical products they need, with four distribution centers spanning from the dense southern regions surrounding its capital, Accra, to the remote and arid north of the country.

India’s ‘Medicines from the Sky’

Buoyed by the successes in Africa, the government of Telangana is keen on introducing the project called ‘ Medicines from the Sky ‘ , to commence in early 2020. The World Economic Forum has collaborated with m ultiple drone s tart-ups , including those in India such as India Flying Labs, Adani, Aarav Unmanned Systems, Marut Drones, Asteria and more.The Information Technology Minister of Telangana, K.T. Rama Rao, said the project had potential to become a model for other states to look at drone applications for healthcare delivery.

“Telangana has been a pioneer in using technology for improving the lives of the citizens. Using drones todeliver blood and other medical goods to people in remote and inaccessible areas is an exemplary project that demonstrates the use of technology for the social good,” said Rao.

Zipline has also tied up with Maharasthra government and this project is also expected to go operational in 2020.

Rules & Regulations

There is a lot happening in India when it comes to drone technology. Consultancy firm BIS Research said the Indian drone market is expected to be valued at $885 million by 2021.

In 2018, the Ministry of Civil Aviation legalized flying commercial drones with a long list of rules and regulations. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has certified two Bengaluru-based drone start-ups
– Skylark Drones and Throttle Aero space Systems and Aarav Unmanned Systems.

The latest version of the regulations factored in reduction of human intervention, gathering precise spatial data to enable city planning and administration and s a f e t y a n d security framework.

Drone food delivery success

In June this year , Zomato successfully tested the country’s first drone food delivery system. It used a hybrid drone that covered a distance of 5 km in about 10 minutes with a peak speed of 80 kmph to deliver a
food packet.

The test run was approved by the DGCA which later asked companies to submit an expression of interest (EoI) for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight Operations (BVLOS) of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)/Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Tata Steel is also working with Skylark Drones to deploy them at their Noamundi iron ore mines in Jharkhand, for compliance reporting and monitoring volumetric production. DeTect is working with Hindustan Petroleum, Indian Oil and Gas Authority of India Limited.

Drones are here for good. Apart from military applications, its scope of uses is unending and we are seeing that coming slowly up on the horizon. The opportunities are huge and so could be the challenges.

ACL Airshop Growing global footprint

ACL Airshop’s operations are primarily centered in three major airports̶ Amsterdam AMS, Hong Kong HKG, and New York JFKenabling it to control and balance the complex logistics of its steadily-growing ULD fleets at three ideal time zones, including clients who require logistics fleet technologies from the company.

In 1979, a little known company in Greenville, South Carolina started shipping horses by air.
By 1984, it invented the short-term leasing business for airline containers, opening up its first shop of unit load devices (ULDs)—the ACL Airshop.

Today, ACL Air shop is one of the world’s leading providers of comprehensive ULD and cargo control solutions for the aviation industry with offices in more than 50 locations on 6 continents.

Its global footprint is undeniably massive with products and services used by more than 200 international airlines and at majority of the top 100 air cargo hub airports worldwide.

Air Cargo Update speaks to Steve Townes, Chairman & CEO of ACL Airshop, and CEO/Founder of Ranger
Aerospace, a private equity consolidator and management holding firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions on aerospaceand aviation with hundreds of millions in various buyouts and consolidations and investing transactions
since 1997.

Ranger Aerospace acquired ACL Airshop in February 2016 and since then the company had seen dramatic transformation in terms of sales, services and product offers.

Townes, a former American Army ranger who studied engineering at United States Military Academy at West Point turned serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, said growing ACL Airshop’s network has always been their goal.
“This was our strategy following the acquisition by Ranger Aerospace and its large capital partners. The strategic mantra of “GROW THE NETWORK” carries with it hundreds of sub-tasks, but that over-arching goal has been clear from the start,” Townes shared.

We currently offer ULDs that are enabled with Bluetooth Low Energy tracking technology. This technology can provide our customers with various data points: temperature, location services, connectivity with airway bills that allow forward facing updates to the cargo customer. In addition, we are the launch customer for VRR’s new collapsible main deck container – a true game changer in terms of U LD imbalances and repositioning.

its large capital partners. The strategic mantra of “GROW THE NETWORK” carries with it hundreds of sub-tasks, but that over-arching goal has been clear from the start,” Townes shared.

“At the beginning of the “Ranger Chapter,” we interviewed customers about the value proposition of ACL Airshop. The voice of customer comments was uniformly positive, and they all said, “We hope you will provide ULD services in more hub airports.” So that was the genesis of “Grow the Network.” Our customers wrote our strategy,” he pointed out.

Global presence

ACL Airshop’s operations are primarily centered in three major airports—Amsterdam AMS, Hong K o n g H K G , a n d New Yor k JFK—enabling it to control and balance the complex logistics of its steadily-growing ULD fleets at three ideal time zones, including clients  who require logistics fleet technologies from the company.

Wo r l d wide , ACL has 220 employees, 30 percent more before Ranger Aerospace took over, and its likely to increase with the company’s planned global expansion.

“We currently have 220 full-time employees around the world, which is roughly one-third larger than when Ranger acquired ACL Airshop in February 2016. We have added manufacturing capacity, more repair stations , and new tech nology services, resulting in a number of highly skilled professionals and technicians added to the ranks,” Townes said.

“Our overhead staffing has been kept to a slow-growth strategy, as we leverage the experienced executive teams across a larger base. The company is very flat and thin, without redundant layers of cost which customers typically do not value,” he explained, adding, their staff will likely increase to about 300 as the company pursues its goal of expanding to at least 75 of the world’s Top 100 airports in the next few years.

ACL Workshop’s staff may be lean but they are well compensated and highly valued resulting to the company being voted as among the “Top Workplace” to work in the United States.

“We are proud that we were voted a ‘Top Workplace’ for a company of our type and size by that nationwide survey. It is conducted by experts from outside the company, through “blind” surveys and interviews directly with employees , completely objective. Thus, it is wonderful feedback to be rated so highly by our own people, in comparison to othercompanies in the aviation sector,” said Townes.

ULD solutions & repair

Transporting horses via air since 1979 or 40 years ago, ACL Airshop has long made its mark in carrying live animals safely and securely through specialized ULD solutions with accompanying highly – trained professionals.

It has well – trained grooms , educated equine veterinarians ensuring that each horse receives unique care and custom placement depending on gender and size. Its solutions include collapsible stalls to save space and money with a single position fitting 4 stacked stalls for return trip.

Wes Tucker, Executive Vice President & CEO of ACL Airshop, said the company offers varied ULDs, including those with advanced tech features.

“ACL Airshop specializes in the most popular pallets used in both upper deck and lower deck operations. Additionally, containers used in lower deck passenger operations and main deck ULD’s commonly used for e-commerce packages are also part of our ULD portfolio,” said Tucker.

The ACL ULDs, which can be leased or sold, typically have an average service life of 7 to 10 years, depending on the region and customer, explained Tucker and noted that “We are actively involved in various end-of-life recycling programs with OEM’s and Operators.”

Apart from ULDs, ACL also offers nets, straps, fitting and corner ropes, which are very important in securing the safety of transported goods on air.

“We offer a variety of different cargo securement products. Cargo nets are an absolute necessity for 95% of the pallets used in any operations. When special cargo is involved, we offer a diverse array of solutions in the form of FAA certified straps and lashings. Our unique capability to supply customers from

different manufacturing facilities around the world provide customers with a seamless supply chain – unencumbered by long, ocean transport times,” said Tucker.

ULDs & technology

Adapting to the digital age, ACL also offers ULDs with Bluetooth tracking devices. The company had since introduced the Find My ULD app and implemented CORE Insight’s Bluetooth logistics technology for its valued air car riers and cargo customers.

“The air cargo industry in general, and the ULD segment in particular, are now pushing stronglyahead to enhance service, accountability, reliability, and speed with new logistics technologies of various types. Ultimately,these efforts should also reduce the overall life-cycle cost of ULDs, and create end-to-end visibility in the entire ULD ecosystem for shippers of air cargo goods,” said Townes.

“The “Holy Grail” goal that everyone seems to be aiming for is tying the Airway Bill to the ULD and to the tracking device/fleet control system. Accomplishing that will not be easy, but it is our next step on our innovation journey.

“These technology changes create new differentiation from a business perspective. Our view is that a market leader MUST also be a technology leader , hence our relentless investment in new systems and fresh thinking. Our customers expect this of us.”Tucker noted the ACL ULDs with Bluetooth enable customers to access important data about their shipment while it is being transported.

“We currently offer ULDs that are enabled with Bluetooth Low Energy tracking technolog y . T h i s technology can provide our customers with various data points : temperature, location services, connectivity with airway bills that a l low forward facing updates to the cargo customer. In addition, we are the launch customer for VRR’s new collapsible main deck container – a true game changer in terms of ULD imbalances and repositioning,” he said.

New modern facility

Apart from technology and people, ACL has also invested on infrastructure. It recently opened its new ultra-modern manufacturing center in South Carolina, its home state and one of the fastest growing area in the US in the aerospace industry.

Townes said A C L ‘ s n e w manufacturing center in South Carolina replaces the original factory from the company’s legacy years. It is envisioned to be self-sustaining in the long-term through better throughput and productivity.

“We decided to keep this flag firmly planted in the home state of the company, which has become one of the fastest-growing US states in the aerospace industry. With improved layouts, LEAN workflow designs, and upgraded capital equipment, we are estimating the new factory will quite literally “pay for itself” through better throughput and productivity. We will measure that at the end of this year, to be sure,” the ACL Chairman and CEO said.

“So although our cost of occupancy went up, the new efficiencies are yielding measurable savings against the same amount of work and numbers of personnel. Thus, we are gauging that our output can go up as demand rises,” he added.

ACL’s new factory is a collaboration between many parties who believe in the company’s potentials to  grow

even bigger than what it is now. “The new factory was the result of

strong partnering with the developer (who actually funded the bulk of the capitalization); the general contractor and its magnificent team o f subcontractors; the architecture/ engineering firm who created an impressive modernistic design; plus, the real estate experts, bankers, and many others. We have a robust supply chain manufacturing capacity that now stretches from South Carolina to Germany, China, and Taiwan,” said Townes.

Steve Townes. A name hardly missed at West Point being the mule donor in perpetuity for the football stadium and animal mascots of the top American military school where he earned his engineering degree in 1975, the Eisenhower Award and the honor as the top graduate from the Army Ranger School.

Townes later trained with the Lanceros, the counter-guerilla forces of Colombia in South America, where he also learned Spanish.

Townes’ name is also etched at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s ‘Wall of Honor’ as “Air and Space Friend.”
But beyond that, Townes, who also has an MBA from Long Island University and PMD from Harvard Business School, is best known for his astute business s e n s e , intelligence , discipline ,humility and philanthropic deeds.
After forming in 1997 Ranger Aerospace, a private equity firm specializing in acquisitions and mergers in the aerospace and aviation industries with hundreds of millions on its portfolio, Townes continued to build on his businesses, giving jobs to people and inspiring others to make their dreams come through.

Read on his market insights on ACL Airshop, Ranger Aerospace’s latest acquisition, as the company pursues expansion across more cities and countries.US & Canada: We see steady, mature growth ahead for North America.
Middle East: For Mid-East and Eurasia, some of our fastest-growing accounts are from that region.
China: We are now in multiple cities in Mainland China and, of course, Hong Kong. This region is strategically hugely important for us. It is our fastest growing region of the world, following the cargo growth, e-commerce, demographic, and macro- economic growth trends of those burgeoning markets.
India: We have carefully explored (this year) entering the Indian sub-continent. We are selecting Handling Partners for several of the main cargo hubs, and hope to be making announcements sometime in 2020 about our next steps in India.
Europe: Like N. America, Europe is a steady, mature market for us. We continue growing, however, with new footprints of important activity in sites such as Liege Belgium and Milan Italy. Our primary hub for Europe and all international operations remains Amsterdam.
Africa: We have one support site in Kenya, and have been exploring others in cargo-heavy sites in Africa. Our growth there will depend on the factors that drive each of our airport support expansions: customer pull, cargo tonnage, numbers of flights, repairs requirements, competitive situation, and “Top 100” as our preference.
Latin America: We have grown aggressively in Latin America in the past few years. The city pairings with Bogota, our flagship location, are remarkably robust across the region as well as to other continents. We are enthused about adding more cities to round-out our operations, from key airports of Mexico all the way southward across the S. American continent, focusing on our criteria for flights, tonnage, customer pull, repairs, etc.
Asia: Without doubt, this has become our fastest- growing worldwide region. Just 5 years ago we had one strong outpost at Hong Kong. Now we have 16. Others are planned in key hubs of the Asia-Pacific theater, including India. The entire ACL Airshop team has done a phenomenal job in expanding our footprint and service network in Asia. Despite current tariff wars, we are confident about the continued long-term growth for our business in Asia-Pacific.

PostTag unveils geo location system in the UAE

PostTag, the destination data engine, has announced the launch of its geo location system in Dubai to help businesses, from deliveries and taxis to emergency services and utilities, get to the right door first time with pinpoint accuracy.

The system, which will be rolled out to cities across the Middle East, solves the issues caused by deficiencies in local addressing systems. PostTag’s engine has been proven to drive significant efficiencies and boost productivity for drivers.

Thorsten Runge, e-commerce industry leader, has been appointed to lead PostTag’s new operations in Dubai.

He has joined the rapidly expanding team as Director of Business Development to drive PostTag’s expansion across the Middle East. Runge has 26 years’ experience in the international logistics field, including eight years as a director at Amazon.

PostTag will build on the Makani numbering system in Dubai and support its evolution by helping to refine usability. PostTag can be integrated with the local geo location system without any input required from customers or drivers.

Thorsten Runge, director of business development in the Middle East, PostTag, said, “Dubai has rapidly become a world leader for deliveries and E-Commerce.

“The Makani system was not designed to accommodate the volume of traffic and deliveries which we are now seeing in Dubai and across the UAE. The infrastructure is crying out for evolution. PostTag provides this.

“It is a genuine game changer which makes deliveries dramatically more accurate, timely and efficient. I am relishing the prospect of launching PostTag in Dubai and eventually across the Middle East.”

Paul Yewman, CEO of PostTag, said, “Dubai was the obvious choice to launch our Middle East hub. It has become increasingly clear that if delivery companies, and anyone who relies on accurate destination data, are going to continue to grow their business then they need to find a way to mitigate the shortcomings with the Makani address system.

“We have mapped all of Dubai and adopters of PostTag will find the difference with the existing system is stark and that there is a clear and immediate business advantage.”

NAFL re-elects Nadia Abdul Aziz as President for a second term

The UAE’s National Association of Freight and Logistics, NAFL, the first association of freight logistics service providers to be established in the Middle East, announced that it has re-elected Nadia Abdul Aziz as President for a second term and appointed new members to its board of directors.

The percentage of UAE nationals serving on NAFL’s board has increased to 30 percent following the recent formation of the board and the association’s annual general meeting, while Emirati women alone represent 20 percent of members, reflecting the organization’s strategic move to harness the potential of local talent and support the UAE’s Emiratisation and women empowerment efforts.

As the first Emirati to head NAFL, Abdul Aziz will lead the association’s efforts to enhance the performance and competitiveness of the UAE’s logistics sector with the aim of boosting its contribution to the country’s economy. She will also represent the UAE to the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, FIATA.

Joining NAFL’s new board of directors are Ahmad Abdul Razeq from Maltras Al Ghaith Group who was appointed Vice President; SudeshChaturvedi from GAC Logistics who was elected as Secretary-General; Mathew Chacko from MRC company who was elected as treasurer; MadhuMadathil (Rais Hassan Saadi Group); Praveen Chandrasen (Kays Logistics); MaithaJuma Bin Bakit Al Falasi (Airlink International); MajidBarzanji (Mateen Express); Essa Al Jallaf (ACT); Ibrahim Abu Zayed (Al Fadhil Al Mazruoie Company). The newly-appointed members will serve a two-year term on the board with the option of reapplying for future terms. Nadia Abdul Aziz described the growing presence of UAE nationals on NAFL’s board as a positive and important development that will help encourage more Emirati professionals to enter the logistics field and contribute to their country’s economy.

She also noted that the UAE’s logistics sector is an early adopter of modern technologies that have positioned the country as a world-class business hub, adding that the sector is expected to recruit more UAE nationals in the near future. NAFL has trained more than 1,500 members in the last four years, providing them with support in the areas of: elementary freight forwarding, FIATA Diploma, logistics, cold chain, shipping value addition training on project, marketing, lean management, digital marketing, HR training and sourcing solutions, insurance training, and provided them access to other services and benefits.

Kuehne + Nagel expands its pharma capabilities in Belgium

Kuehne + Nagel has inaugurated its enlarged pharma distribution center in Geel, making it one of the largest within the global KN PharmaChain network.

By offering standardized, reliable and compliant end-to-end logistics solutions, the new facility plays an important role for Kuehne + Nagel’s customers in search of pharma& healthcare supply chain solutions to support their own strategic growth plans.

The new facility offers multi-modal, temperature-controlled forwarding and warehousing services and is fully GxP compliant and certified.

KN PharmaChain encompasses a global network of more than 220 operations, 600,000 m² of industry dedicated warehousing space and a team of specially-trained operators.

“The enlarged pharma hub in Geel is an inherent part of our strategy to offer integrated logistics solutions to our customers, at the very center of one of Europe’s strongest pharma clusters,” said Tobias Jerschke, managing director of Kuehne + Nagel BeLux.

“Leveraging our distribution network, we make sure that hospitals, pharmacies, doctors and patients are supplied in full and on time,” he added.

The Geel hub is centrally located in close proximity to the Brussels and Liège airports and with fast connections to the other 15 main EuropeanKNPharmaChain locations.

The facility covers a total area of 22,000 m² (plus another 10,000 m² of extension space) and has two cold chambers to handle varying temperature requirements.

In addition to the Geelpharma hub, Kuehne + Nagel is currently investing in a 15,000 m² airside pharma facility at the Brussels cargo airport (BruCargo), due to open in the second half of 2020.

LogiPoint partners with Aramex for ‘Built to Suit’ facilities

LogiPoint,recently made an announcement that it has signed a long-term agreement with Aramex, a leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions, for the construction of ‘Build-to-Suit’ facilities for Aramex’s western province ground operations.

The agreement was signed in the presence of Eng. Saad Al khalb, the President of Saudi Ports Authority ‘MAWANI’, Mr. AamerAlireza, Vice Chairman of Saudi Industrial Services Company – SISCO and Captain Abdullah Al Zamee, Director General of Jeddah Islamic Port.

The new ‘Build-to-Suit’ facility will be located in Jeddah Islamic Port with a built-up area of 20,000 square meters. LogiPoint’s central location offers Aramex an unparalleled connectivity for their last mile delivery as well as connectivity to all major highways for their linehaul business.

FarooqShaikh, CEO of LogiPoint, said, “This agreement underlines LogiPoint’s vision to act as the enabler of the logistics industry, reinforcing our ambition to grow into the Kingdom’s leading logistics parks developer and operator. It is also a mark of confidence and trust which our esteemed clients pose in us when they choose LogiPoint to be their long-term partner.”

Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Alnowaiser, General Manager of Aramex in Saudi Arabia, said, “The Saudi market is a vital arena for Aramex, and today’s agreement supports our continuous efforts to keep investing in our operations in KSA, further develop our service offerings and enhance the overall customer experience. We believe this new facility will allow us to meet the growing customer demand for rapid and more efficient shipment deliveries.”

This agreement comes in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NDLIP), with the support of the Saudi logistics Hub Committee to transform the Saudi Logistics Landscape and develop specialized and “build-for-purpose” logistics facilities.