The recent many-in-one aviation and air cargo handling event in Athens 20-22SEP23, included the annual ULD Care conference and, with it, three developments designed to significantly improve ULD expertise and processing within the air cargo industry: the E-UCR app, dedicated ULD training, and a year-long ULD Challenge launched on 21SEP23. CargoForwarder spoke with Pertti Mero on the latter two points and summarized the E-UCR initiative.
The issues the industry faces when it comes to ULDs, were illustrated in SVP, Cargo Operations Worldwide at Emirates, Henrik Ambak’s article published in CargoForwarder Global on 10SEP23. Workplace and flight safety depend on well-trained employees, and efficient processes.
Airport College in close collaboration with ULD Care
Well-trained employees are those who have benefitted from dedicated ULD training. Airport College, the online training provider for airlines, ground handling and logistics, has collaborated with ULD Care over the past five years and this has resulted in a modern, effective, and easily consumable digital training portfolio that enables flexible and economical learning schedules. The portfolio includes eLearning courses, Virtual Reality (VR) Training for ULD Inspections, ULD60seconds.com videos, and – more recently – microlearning elements. CargoForwarder Global asked Airport College CEO, Pertti Mero (PM) for more details on its in-house developed training courses and the launch of a first ULD Challenge.
CFG: Airport College offers a ULD course in its portfolio, based on Virtual Reality (VR). How has this been accepted in the industry and what is the target group?
PM: We have two ULD Courses based on Virtual Reality (VR): Container Inspection and Pallet & Net Inspection. We have combined training and gaming elements in our VR solution and the feedback from our customers is very positive. These are well accepted by the industry and used by people who build-up cargo, baggage, and mail to containers or pallets. The training takes approximately one hour for one VR course, using a PC. All other courses that we offer can be studied using any digital device including mobile phones, iPads, PCs, etc.
CFG: What are the main problems with ULD handling that the training attempts to address?
PM: Today more than one million aircraft ULDs are in service. They are an expensive asset and require correct handling. Every year, the total cost of both repair and loss of ULDs is estimated to be about $300million, excluding flight delays and cancelations due to their unavailability. ULD's are official aircraft parts and directly contribute to flight safety:
1. ULDs are aircraft parts and are subject to safety and airworthiness requirements
2. Correct ULD handling contributes to flight safety, reduces costs and improves efficiency
3. Every stakeholder must ensure that ULD training requirements are met
Airport College International helps airlines, ground handling and logistics companies meet ULD training standards with ULD training tools that address these points.
CFG: Have you seen an increase in the numbers and scope of companies using your training products since the pandemic? Has anything changed in companies' training approaches?
PM: After the pandemic, interest in our services increased and opened new markets including US, Canada, and Caribbean. Our courses are used in 140+ countries around the world. Our 30+ training courses are based on international training standards established by governing bodies such as the ICAO, FAA, EASA, and IATA, with the key objective to keep workforces competent. Today, we offer various language versions including English, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, Thai, Spanish, and French.
CFG: Tell us about the ULD Challenge 2023
PM: Airport College International's new ULD training concept was presented in Athens on 21SEP23. At the same time, we launched the ULD Challenge 2023, inviting airlines and ground handlers to participate in a project that evaluates the effectiveness of training in reducing ULD damages and achieving cost savings through the training provided by Airport College International. The project is led by Airport College International, which is responsible for the practical arrangements of the project. Project results and recommendations will be presented in our 2024 ULD care conference.
CFG: So, interested parties should get in contact with Airport College International or with ULD Care’s Bob Rogers. The company should be prepared to confidentially share its current ULD quality statistics and monitor its performance and trend over the year, with monthly follow-up meetings and quarterly meetings to look at progress. It gains access to Airport College International’s ULD training portfolio during that time, and the year ends with a final report and next step recommendations.
Is there any other message you’d like to share with our readers, Pertti?
PM: We have a strong team of professionals with extensive experience of running successful businesses in the fields of aviation, logistics, safety & security, eLearning, information technology and management consultancy.
We thank our clients and strategic partners who work closely with us to make our services better!
Thank you, Pertti!
Significantly improving the UCR process through digitalization
“Who knows what UCR stands for?” was Bob Rogers, ULD Care’s question to the audience at the ACHL in Athens. Not many hands went up, reflecting on the dark hole in the ULD process. UCR stands for ULD Control Receipt and is the 50-year-old paper form that requires signing when a container moves into the hands of a temporary owner, often going off-airport. “The reality is that off-airport ULD activities are a mess,” he continued, putting the problem down to the very diverse, paper processes, and the lack of digitalization. “We know that the ULD is somewhere in vicinity, but have no idea exactly where and when it is coming back. Covid exacerbated this problem,” Rogers lamented. A single PMC is worth USD 100 and yet 8% of airline assets (an annual worth of 50 million USD) go missing each year. “ULDs are the oil that lubricate air cargo, and the industry grinds to a halt without ULDs,” he admonished. Since digitalization figures in every part of our lives, from handheld printers, to scanners, credit card readers, phone payments, etc., the UCR should also benefit from a digital process. ULD Care has created an E-UCR phone app that records all the data required to track ULD movements/interline transfers: ULD ID, OCR, date, place, time, and photos of the ULD’s condition. Thus, the asset owner knows where the equipment is at all times, and an efficient process is available that allows UCR printouts, and accurate data capture sharing to other parties downstream. Time-intensive, error-prone manual input is a thing of the past.
“Now, we just need to get the industry to recognize and implement the app,” he concluded, revealing that Emirates has already completed a 3-month test operation in Dubai, and is now rolling out to 4-5 other airports. KLM Gound Services has been involved since NOV22, and Eva Air is currently preparing a testbed. “ULD is pretty far down the food-chain,” he observed, but the incentive to avoid expensive assets going off radar, with a simple, effective, digital application instead of an inefficient, unsustainable, paper process, ought to be a no-brainer, really.
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