A Unit Load Device (ULD) is a pallet or a container used to load baggage, cargo or mail on a wide body or some specific narrow body aircrafts.
The growth in wide body aircraft has contributed to increase in ULD usage. As per an IATA approximately 900,000 ULD’s are operational today. With increase in usage, total cost of ULD repair or loss is about $300 million. This cost is excluding cost of aircraft damage, flight delays or cancellations caused by ULD operations.
ULD are the only part of the aircraft which is being handled by untrained, unregulated staff. Most of the ULD operations is been outsourced to ground handlers or cargo agents. As we can see increasing demand of shipper-built ULD or Built-up pallets more number of ULD’s are likely to be handled by unregulated staff. With the given scenario it is becoming difficult for airlines to control or supervise the ULD management.
As per estimates at any given time 80,000 ULD’s are unusable which cumulatively cost industry USD 40 million per year. Industry experts estimate this cost as 25% of the total ULD ownership cost. In addition to cost, this is a major safety concern for airlines.
Airlines track ULD across network manually or with help of legacy systems. Airlines face major challenges like inventory control, damages, ULD loss, lack of real time updates and tracking.
Manuel ULD operations also lead to insufficient ULD’s at stations, higher budgets for repairs, aircraft damages, in-flight incidents, ULD related cargo offloads and operational audit failures.
How Use of technology will help ULD management
Making sure the right ULD is available at the right place and at the right time is essential for airline operations. In this new digital age where airlines are fast adapting to newer technologies and exploring use of technologies where traditionally processes have been done manually. ULD management is an area where IoT can be used and the entire process can run efficiently. Centralise ULD management with real time tracking and inventory control will bring transparency in ULD management
Some Business benefits achieved by introducing new age technologies in ULD management are-
- Increase Efficiency – real time tracking of ULD will increase utilisation, reconciliation will to reduce imbalance of stock throughout the network.
- Reduce Cost – Significant cost saving through improved utilisation and increased control on maintenance cost.
- Enhance Visibility- Real time visibility in ULD stock levels, location and movement within airline network
We at HCL are working on developing new solution for ULD management. With our expertise in airline operations and experience in working with aircraft manufactures will be an added advantage for our airline partners to develop new solutions for ULD management.