IATA Air Cargo Innovation Award finalists focus on ULD tech

For the third year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the names of three finalists for the organization’s Air Cargo Innovation Awards. This time, all three focus on the same piece of equipment in the supply chain: the ubiquitous unit load device (ULD).

IATA’s judges winnowed down the short list of finalists from 56 entries, covering a wide-range of logistics technologies. The chosen candidates have adopted such innovative and emerging technologies as blockchain and big data to perform ULD management and track-and-trace functions.

The three finalists are as follows:

  • aeroTHERM – Air New Zealand recently tested and launched this new thermally insulated ULD, aimed at better protecting temperature-sensitive shipments and reducing cost. Designed by Cargo Composites, aeroTHERM includes a fabric door that its designers say provides 25 times the insulation of regular ULD doors and curtains, allowing shipments to stay within desired temperature ranges for longer and reducing the use of thermal covers, wraps and heavier temperature-controlled ULDs.
  • Smart ULD – Co-developed by SITA (formerly the Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques), French aerospace firm Safran and CHAMP Cargosystems, Smart ULD combines mobile, internet-of-things (IoT) and blockchain technologies to digitally track and monitor ULDs during their transport, providing geolocation, damage reports, and alerts about changes in temperature, shock, vibration and pressure, with the goal of reducing losses or misplacement of ULDs.
  • Unilode Digital Transformation – Unilode Aviation Solutions’ concept adds IoT technology to ULD management. Using Bluetooth-based tracking devices, this Digital Transformation program creates transparency throughout the supply chain, enabling customers to use the ULDs themselves to track cargo and transmit status updates about temperature, humidity, shock and light, while offering improved inventory control and reduced incidents of damage to the ULD fleet.

The winner will be chosen by an independent jury of industry experts, academics and executives of leading logistics companies, “based upon their assessment of the ideas’ potential to become the basis of a viable new venture, its potential for value creation, and the likelihood of achieving success,” IATA said.

The three finalists will present their submissions on March 14 at the 13th IATA World Cargo Symposium in Singapore, where Air Cargo World will publish three “Daily Reports” covering the event each day. Visit aircargoworld.com for more updates.

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