AI combined with P & P
Robot systems for airfreight pallets. Speedcargo, a Singapore tech start-up, and Güdel, a Swiss manufacturer of high-precision machine components, are teaming up to develop what they claim is “the first end-to-end automatic material handling solution of its kind for airfreight.”
Does a new robot system have what it takes to change the way air cargo ground handlers store and move cargo at airports worldwide? Güdel and Speedcargo certainly think so. They say that their solution, which they recently presented to the sector, “is capable of handling cargo of a variety of sizes and weights, and even odd-shaped cargo.”
The system is based on three of the critical points in ground handling, which is also where each partner’s trumps come into play. For Güdel they’re they gantry robots and decades of intralogistics automation expertise of the family-owned company, founded in 1954. For Speedcargo they’re its computer vision, optimisation as well as its intelligent robotics software.
The three handling processes
The process of receiving cargo is improved by the system setting up automated express lanes, with a seamless integrated process for weight, dimension and x-ray checks. This enables a steady turnover of cargo at the receiving gates and the transfer of transportable consignments to a buffer zone.
The system sets up an automated buffer zone for storage and retrieval. Here, accepted freight is efficiently stored and managed, to enable fast retrieval for a flexible ULD build-up. The system allows storage space to be managed dynamically, thus enabling warehouses to be used to their full capacity.
Finally, the system automates the ULD build-up. Artificial intelligence (AI) optimises the ULD build-up plans, which are automatically executed, using precision gantry robots, whilst a centralised control system ensures that the cargo is fed to the palletising robot in an optimised sequence, which results in a fast and reliable build-up. The system is also equipped with a range of grippers and sensors to ensure that mixed cargo is handled safely and reliably.
Solutions for major challenges
Automated cargo handling solutions address some of the biggest challenges the industry faces today. Matthias Vogelsanger, the chief technology officer of the Güdel Group, addressed one of them.
“As wages rise and labour shortages worsen, airfreight handling will become increasingly automated. Our partnership with Speedcargo allows us to take advantage of the potential of pick-and-place applications [P & P] when combined with artificial intelligence.”
Other benefits include the efficient use of existing infrastructure, without compromising on safety and quality. That’s why Speedcargo chief executive officer Krishna Kumar Nallur is convinced that “automation addresses some of the key issues the air cargo industry faces today. It will become a foundational building block for future airfreight operations.”