Soaring Efficiency: Air Cargo Industry Goes High Tech to Improve Operations


With an insatiable desire to innovate and achieve logistics excellence, Singapore has always been at the forefront of incorporating cutting-edge technology in its air cargo operations. The recent breakthrough from Speedcargo, a tech start-up, in collaboration with Gudel, a machine component manufacturer, sets the stage for a new era in airfreight handling. Together, they have unveiled the world's first fully automated robotic freight handling system, poised to bring sweeping enhancements to the global air cargo industry.

The integration of Speedcargo's computer vision, optimisation, and intelligent robotics software with Gudel's advanced gantry robots is nothing short of ground-breaking. This fusion will streamline ground handling operations, transforming the way cargo is stored and moved within airports. Capable of handling a wide range of cargo sizes and shapes, this solution meets the demand for versatility and efficiency that the ever-evolving freight industry calls for.

The system's key features can bring transformative benefits to the air cargo landscape. Firstly, by creating express automated lanes for cargo acceptance, the system provides an integrated process for weight, dimension, and x-ray. This feature allows for continuous throughput at acceptance gates, translating to enhanced speed in processing air freight. A direct consequence is a faster movement of ready-for-carriage cargo to the buffer zone, a boon for the air cargo industry at large.

The system also introduces an automated buffer for storage and retrieval. This ingenious feature enables intelligent and efficient storage and management of cargo. What this means for the industry is the ability to exploit warehouse space to its maximum capacity, aligning with a city-state like Singapore's premium on space utilisation.

Moreover, the automation of ULD build-up with AI presents another remarkable feature. AI directs gantry robots to automatically execute build-up plans, while a centralised control system optimises the sequence of cargo feeding to the palletising robot. This innovation offers substantial time and resource savings, supporting the industry's continuous drive for efficiency in freight operations.

Of significant relevance is Speedcargo's existing partnership with Etihad Cargo Airlines, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Singapore, being an important international air cargo hub, stands to benefit greatly from this increased collaboration. The adoption of the robotic system can streamline cargo operations in Singapore, improving transit times, further cementing the nation's status as a crucial logistics centre.

Looking at the broader perspective, the impact of this development extends beyond efficiency and speed. As Matthias Vogelsanger, CTO of Gudel Group, notes, "Automation in air freight handling will become increasingly necessary as wages rise and labour shortages worsen. Technology hubs are poised to be first movers in this space and reap the rewards of early adoption."

In an industry grappling with labour shortages and space constraints, this automated cargo handling solution stands as a promising answer. Besides addressing these operational challenges, it enhances safety, ensuring consistent, high-quality handling. These improvements are particularly advantageous to Singapore, a country known for its rigorous safety standards.

The automated robotic freight handling system developed by Speedcargo and Gudel signifies a game-changing innovation that aligns with the fast-moving direction of the global air cargo industry. By addressing key industry challenges and pushing the boundaries of efficiency and safety, it offers immense benefits to cargo airlines and shippers. As the industry continues to embrace technological advancements in its logistics sector, the partnership between Speedcargo and Gudel exemplifies the country's proactive approach in harnessing technology to foster growth and maintain its competitive edge in the global air cargo landscape.