Etihad Cargo taps Descartes to enhance visibility of air cargo and ULD handling processes
Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics division of UAE flag-carrier Etihad Airways, has opted to use logistics software system specialist Descartes’s Bluetooth Low Energy container monitoring system to offer greater visibility of conditions of air cargo during the shipping process as well as insight into ULD handling processes.
Descartes’ Internet of Things (IoT)-based Bluetooth Low Energy solution, integrated with Jettainer’s unit load device (ULD) management services, are expected to enable Etihad Cargo’s ability to see where ground and ULD handling processes might be improved while also gaining data concerning the ambient conditions of airfreight in transit.
The Bluetooth tags are fixed to containers or pallets, mobile applications and mesh networks to automate the end-to-end tracking of these assets.
Such tags fixed to ULDs prior to loading onto an aircraft enable easy access to real-time location data and information on the cargo’s condition within, offering data on conditions such as temperature, light, humidity and movement.
They also offer ‘chain of custody’ detail that indicates in whose custody assets are at any given time.
Tags can also be added to any ground service equipment (GSE), like dollies, for visibility of a freight carrier’s handling equipment.
“At Etihad Cargo, we’re continuing to invest in technology and innovation to make air cargo handling more efficient, smarter and faster, and this includes the usage and management of our ULD fleet,” declared Thomas Schürmann, head of cargo operations & delivery at the Abu Dhabi-headquartered cargo carrier.
“The addition of Descartes’ next-generation IoT devices to our ULD fleet provides true operational value for us.
“Etihad Cargo expects to reduce the number of lost ULDs – those that lose their trail somewhere at the airport, at the ground handling agent or the forwarder – by being able to tell exactly where they were last seen.
“We furthermore expect to simplify ground processes, for example, by reducing the time and effort spent on stock take,” Schürmann added.
“We’re pleased to help Etihad Cargo optimise the use of its ULD fleet with richer visibility at both the asset and shipment level,” said Scott Sangster, general manager, logistics service providers at Descartes.
“ULDs are the backbone of the air cargo supply chain and, with coverage in over 1,300 reader locations and 200 airports worldwide, Descartes’ innovations in IoT-based tracking and advanced network capabilities are helping airlines access the status of their ULDs anytime, anywhere – through any internet-enabled device.”
Ontario, Canada-headquartered Descartes is a specialist in providing on-demand, modular, software-as-a-service solutions focused on improving the productivity, security and sustainability of logistics-intensive businesses.
Ram Krishnaswamy, general manager Middle East, Africa & Indian Subcontinent at Jettainer, observed: “As part of our premium product, ULD Select, the combination of our sophisticated ULD management solution with Descartes’ next generation IoT devices can be a powerful boost to our service.
“The technology can provide our valued customers like Etihad Cargo insights into the conditions of their freight, give access to detailed location information, facilitate ULD processing on the ground, and thus further improve asset utilisation.”
Krishnaswamy continued: “Jettainer embraces innovation and digitalisation, and this is exactly what we experience with Descartes as the leading technical provider in the field of Bluetooth Low Energy tracking solutions.
“Potential benefits are not limited to ULD processing, we also see value in streamlining export, transit and import cargo processes and will explore this further with our customers and partners.”
Jettainer offers more than 100,000 ULDs in 500 locations worldwide. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Cargo AG.