A stunning 15 million tons of air freight are annually processed and handled worldwide using equipment installed by Lodige Industries. This is equivalent to the combined 2018 cargo
throughput registered at Hong Kong, Memphis, Shanghai, and London Heathrow.
What is behind Lodige’s success? A visit to their customer care center located in Paderborn, Germany, provides key insights.
Paderborn is a city with 150,000 inhabitants, located on the eastern fringe of Germany’s industrial heartland, North Rhine-Westphalia. The main attractions are the more than 20 ancient buildings protected as historic monuments, the university and its key ‘intelligent technical systems’ research area, as well as the first league soccer club named SC Paderborn 07.
Sophisticated remote control of operational activities
And that would be all there is to know about Paderborn, were it not for Lodige Industries which has its customer service centre there. The centerpiece is a strictly shielded room jam-packed with sophisticated technology and manned 24/7 by operators working in a four-shift system. Transmitted by sensors and motion detectors which all Lodige-monitored or maintained cargo terminals are equipped with, every single activity inside the buildings as well as air- and landside, is displayed in real-time on monitors standing in the company’s well-guarded Customer Care Centre. “Each day and night we receive and collect data, which we analyze internally and use to further fine-tune operational processes,” explains Conrad Ilsch, Director Service International at Lodige. This excludes photos as these are not stored but deleted shortly after being taken.
Lodige takes care of the rest
Roughly 20% of the entire working time of operators is spent on data evaluation, Mr Ilsch states, which makes operational processes extremely transparent – a precondition to continuously upgrading air freight ground handling processes.
Every single customer receives a monthly report, which is the basis for further process improvement. "Thanks to our sophisticated remote-control system, we enable our partners such as Finnair Cargo, to concentrate on their core competencies - the air transport of consignments. Our equipment allows our clients to rely on automated efficient transfer and an ergonomic preparation of cargo,” describes Mr Ilsch.
According to him, Lodige Industries achieves a remarkable 99.9% availability rate at all freight terminals managed by the company. And these are many meanwhile, such as Moscow Cargo Terminal, Liege Cargo Terminal, Finnair’s Nordic Cool Hub, to name but a few.
Mr Ilsch adds that most of the service and maintenance tasks provided is based on performances achieved. He does not provide further details, referring to bilateral confidentiality agreements. Except for the fact that an onsite team deals with technical mishaps that cannot be fixed remotely. This rarely happens, emphasizes Head of Marketing and Communications, Petra Ernst-Gutierrez:
“A majority of problems can be diagnosed and fixed remotely from our customer care centre, which is of great convenience to our clients.”
AGVs are the future
The newest addition to Lodige’s portfolio is an automated guided vehicle (AGV), whose initial operation is scheduled for the end of summer this year. Intensive discussions are currently being held with potential customers, says Bjoern Ussat, Director Airport Logistics Solutions. Lodige stresses that AGVs will become an integral part of fully automated cargo terminals in the near future. The driverless devices, guided by Lodige’s own warehouse management systems (WMS), facilitate the transport of ULDs inside terminals and reduce stationary equipment, optimizing flexible, scalable and reliable cargo flows. The data based AGVs reduce the potential for ULD damage, enable 24/7 operations, and free ground handling staff for higher value tasks.
In contrast, Lodige’s futuristic Slave Pallet Movers still need manual inputs. Yet, this may also change in the foreseeable future.
As far as staffing issues are concerned Lodige itself seems to have no difficulty to attract engineers, IT experts and other high potentials to Paderborn. Assumedly, it is not only due to the charm of the city. Instead, Ms Ernst-Gutierrez indicates the true reasons: “we deliver exciting and fast-paced projects worldwide and each of these offers new challenges and demand creative thinking from us – that’s a major attraction.”
We always welcome your comments to our articles. However, we can only publish them when the sender name is authentic.