What happens when the “global ULD brain-trust” [to quote ULD CARE moderator, Carl Mavromichalis] and an “estimated 765 years of collective ULD management experience” gather in one room? The next three days will tell…
121 delegates from major airlines, ULD equipment suppliers, ULD management and pooling companies, and a few other key players have joined together in Montréal, for the annual ULD CARE conference, 16-19 SEP 19. Instigated by the ULD CARE Board headed by Bob Rogers and Urs Wiesendanger, ULD CARE’s main focus alongside its core business (the IULDUG system) is to bring all those involved in ULD processes together to look at solutions promoting proper handling and management of ULDs – and ultimately ensuring flight safety.
Networking leads to solutions
An informal evening reception on 16 SEP 19 in the elegant bar/terrace area of the Vogue Hotel Loews, allowed conference participants to network – which is one of the main reasons for their attendance: “I get to talk to so many people from the industry in one spot!” is the repeated reason given to CFG. Urs Wiesendanger is also happy to see a number of first timers at this event – not least the participation of an ACI representative on the “Putting ULD CARE Solution to Use” panel. Having the Airports Council International attend is an excellent step towards better connections between airports and airlines, who often suffer from lack of space for proper ULD storage, for example.
Work began in earnest the next day at 09:00. After welcoming words by Urs Wiesendanger, the event kicked off with two indigenous dances carried out by Ivanie Aubin-Malo, who reminded the audience of the importance and meaning of a PowWow – a gathering where people come together, of their combined “strength and resilience,” and of adapting to new circumstances. The colorful First Nation people performance set the scene for the conference which is held in the city that is also the headquarters for IATA, ICAO, ACI and IGHC.
Why “Breakthrough to Excellence”?
Why the motto “Breakthrough to Excellence”? Urs Wiesendanger explained “We believe we have viable solutions – some already available and some still being worked on – and that we can now breakthrough to excellence in ULD management.” He listed IoT topics, Bluetooth and Blockchain possibilities, and requested that the delegates play an interactive part in the conference, giving feedback. “We need your contribution! What are the industry needs?”
“Interactive” was the buzzword of the day: a number of polls and questions were put to the audience during the various panel discussions, where they could vote and respond using Slido on their smartphones. Very soon, clear trends such as “training”, “tracking” and “communication” emerged. These are the key focus points: getting the message not only top-down to the front line of a workforce in high fluctuation, but also bottom-up. True breakthrough in excellence is when the front line is actively – and proudly – involved in ensuring ULDs are airworthy, remain undamaged and where all those handling them understand the “WHY” of adhering to processes. “ULDs are aircraft parts” and “an empty ULD has value!”. Terry Waithe likened the ULD to a coffee cup – “You might dispose of your coffee cup when it is empty, but how much of your coffee would you have been able to enjoy without that cup?”. ULDs should be used – not stored. Empty ULDs need to be returned.
People, panels and perspectives
Bob Rogers unfortunately could not attend in person for medical reasons but appeared a number of times throughout the day as “Virtual Bob” on the big screen, detailing top solutions such as the Strap App and discussing the Code of Conduct that is being signed by more and more companies. He pointed out all the digital possibilities that are coming the industry’s way and which will be further panel discussion topics over the next few days.
What started out with a look back at the achievements since Guangzhou the previous year, panel discussions on whether ULD Excellence is now within reach, and a look at current solutions – including simple and effective ULD60Seconds videos developed in cooperation with the Airport College and well received across the audience – the first day ended at 17:00h after interactive small group discussions tackling the questions of maximizing current solutions, and any that still need developing.
The atmosphere is open, dialogue is good, and, during the coffee breaks, delegates are able to browse supplier stands, get direct information and close deals on the spot. The next two days look promising!