Logistics heavyweight, Hellmann, is the launching customer for Dronamics’ unmanned aerial vehicles. The partnership agreement signed yesterday (29JUN21), could be a breakthrough for the “Black Swan” drones developed and provided by Dronamics. The first flights operated on behalf of Hellmann are expected to take place early next year.
Supposedly champagne corks were popping in Dronamics’ London office yesterday (29Jun21), when Svilen Rangelov, the company’s founder and CEO, told his staff about the accord reached with
Hellmann. The signing of the Letter Of Intent is a major step forward in the drone company’s strategy to establish a flight network spanning all across Europe.
Accordingly, Rangelov expressed his appreciation after he had inked the deal: “We are extremely happy to have the opportunity to work with a leading logistics provider such as Hellmann, a company with a global network and a strategy to shape the supply chain of the future. Collaborating with freight forwarders is an essential part of the vision to make same-day deliveries a reality,” he stated.
Offering customers pioneering new air services for European cross-border transportation of time-critical goods is exactly Hellmann’s objective for taking on the pioneering role as launching client of missions conducted by Dronamics’ “Black Swan” drones. Jan Kleine-Lasthues, COO Airfreight Hellmann worldwide Logistics, explains what makes Dronamics attractive for his company as a partner for joint aerial services:
“They are the only supplier in this segment. Their drones land and take off like airplanes, which qualifies them for airport-to-airport operations, making them an ideal addition to our supply chain. We can use them to replace transporting urgent goods by sprinter, whereas drones are faster and there is no congestion in the air, unlike on the road. Before entering into the agreement with Dronamics, we checked the market and realized that other drone manufacturers offer products that resemble helicopters because they take off and land vertically. This qualifies them for door-door services but not airport-airport operations on middle distances. In addition, the on-demand use of drones to transport urgent spare parts for the automotive or maritime industries makes us less dependent on the rigid flight schedules of airlines.”
Convincing performance data
According to the manufacturer, the “Black Swan” can fly up to 2,500 km nonstop while carrying 350 kg. We asked Mr. Kleine-Lasthues if Hellmann intends taking a financial stake in Dronamics, or if the cooperation is of a purely commercial nature?
Here is what he said: “We do not plan to invest in Dronamics. There is a clear division of labor: they are responsible for the technology, operations, service staff, and availability of drones at the requested place and desired time. We take care of the shipments and determine the routes on which we intend to use the aerial vehicles.”
Drone and road transports are comparable in costs
Hellmann’s customers might want to know if drone operations will up transport prices.
Quote Mr Kleine-Lasthues: “No, not really, if various criteria are taken into account when calculating rates. Above all, the time advantage achievable by drones in the transport of urgent and special goods is a huge advantage which pays off for consignees. In addition, the “Black Swan” flies autonomously, i.e., without personnel. In terms of price, shipments flown with drones will be comparable to road transports needing two drivers.”
Wide range of products fitting drones
Regarding the products to be transported by drones, the Hellmann manager mentions car components, spare parts flown on behalf of the automotive, maritime, and also aviation industry, and all kinds of special and urgent items. Sending pharma shipments or even vaccines on board of drones once a European flight network is established, is also a company target. However, this requires ensuring that the interior of the drone can be cooled. “We have already discussed this with Dronamics,” Hellmann’s Jan Kleine-Lasthues concludes.
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