On the right, airfreight shipments are being handled; on the left, craftsmen are assembling the infrastructure for a new building. It is a strange duality of activities that is starting
to take place right now at Lufthansa Cargo's logistics and handling center at Frankfurt Airport’s Cargo City North. This combination of old and new will last until 2029. By then, the former
Lufthansa Cargo Center (LCC) will be history and will have undergone a major transformation called LCCevolution.
When Stefan Dürr, Program Manager Infrastructure Development at Lufthansa Cargo, talks about the LCCevolution project, he goes into raptures. Data, facts, and concept ideas unfold in rapid
succession. The carrier’s upcoming logistics and handling center, dubbed Lufthansa Cargo Center (LCC), will consist of a variety of smaller and larger facilities serving different demands and
needs. The clue to the whole project, is that it is being conducted in a modular way, thus the renovation and renewal of the buildings will take place during ongoing operations. In the process,
the modular approach will avoid any restrictions for customers. Centerpiece is a 50,000 m² ‘Transit Terminal’, where most of the carrier’s shipments are processed, both in and out. This activity
should work smoothly and well-timed, thanks to an electronic production planning & steering system, a different project at Lufthansa Cargo.
Data driven procedures
It is based on a forecast model that includes the following parameters: Type, quantity, and arrival time of shipments on way to the sorting and distribution center and brought in by trucks; the earmarked handling position within the building for each pallet or shipment, and which flights the individual goods are booked on. Compared to today's practice, it is a data driven, very transparent, and an extremely fast procedure, almost a quantum leap for Lufthansa Cargo and its customers. "Whereby it must be taken into account that our 40-year-old Lufthansa Cargo Center has only undergone minor modernization of the buildings and logistics systems since it was built, apart from the installation of new security technology and safety devices," explains Stefan Dürr.
For years to come, the project will consist of a triad: Continuing daily handling operations at a high level, demolishing significant parts of the current Lufthansa Cargo Center piece after piece, followed by the construction of new cargo facilities immediately afterwards. About 50% of the building will be preserved and completely renovated. “It's like open-heart surgery,” says manager Dürr.
The central high-rack storage system will be up to 40 meters high, it will provide sufficient stowage space for goods, and enable utmost productivity per square meter. By what percentage productivity is supposed to be higher than in the current building, he does not detail.
The complex will operate 24/7/365 despite the night flight curfew limiting operations at FRA. Air freight is a volatile business with peaks and troughs. “This means that we have to guarantee round-the-clock handling, because trucks also deliver goods or pick up imports at night,” states Mr. Dürr. For the physical part of the work in the LCC, Lufthansa Cargo already relies in part on the support of external service providers - and will continue to do so in the future.
And he points to another aspect: “We coordinated the dimensions of the buildings with air traffic control because shadowing of their radar beams had to be excluded. The authorities imposed considerable constraints on us, but at the end we solved the problem technically,” the executive says.
As things stand today, LCCevolution will cost 400 million euros, tutti completti. Hence, 900 million euros less compared to the former price tag of 1.3 billion euros calculated for its conceptual forerunner, the LCC Neo. Thanks to its leaner dimensions and state-of-the-art technique, it will considerably scale up productivity states Mr. Gloy. Whether the Lufthansa Cargo headquarter will also move to the new LCC has not been decided yet. However, one thing is for sure: The cargo carrier will not move outside Fraport’s airport fence and settle adjacent to the HQ of parent Lufthansa German Airlines.
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