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Speedcargo automation tools find space where airfreight providers can’t

Company recently partnered with Etihad Cargo to provide digitization and optimization solutions

Speedcargo announced a partnership with Etihad Cargo in May. (Photo: Speedcargo)

At times, innovation is born out of curiosity, as inquisitive minds look for ways to simplify dated processes. Often, however, it arises from necessity, driven by the need to compete on a global scale.

Technology solutions provider Speedcargo was formed in response to necessity and has made global headlines for its work to provide scalable operations to the airfreight industry.

In May, Speedcargo announced it had partnered with Etihad Cargo, the logistics arm of Etihad Airways, to integrate its AI tools to optimize available cargo space and improve cargo planning.

Origin story

In an interview with FreightWaves, CEO Krishna Kumar explained that Speedcargo’s technology was born from a logistical problem discovered by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore  (CAAS).

In 2014, the CAAS issued an industrywide call to address three areas of growing challenges: automated solutions to stack, store and break down pallets, a job the next generation of workers was not looking forward to being a part of.

“There was a team from [the Technical University of Munich] that was headed by our founder and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Suraj Nair. That team was able to demonstrate before robots were common that you can actually automate the buildup and breakdown of cargo,” said Kumar.

He explained that once the team figured out how to automate the building and breakdown processes, it could leverage warehouse data to standardize the growing operation and overall airfreight ecosystem.

“When you have this trifecta of activities including high mix, high volume and high payload and you are working in a very unstructured environment, it becomes very difficult to optimize unless you can orchestrate the entire environment. Most airports have between two and five ground handlers and they are oligopolistic. Our team was able to demonstrate technically how these competing operations could be done,” he said.

After two years of working on its automated solution, Speedcargo found that in order to automate the handling of cargo it would first need to build a solution to digitize the physical cargo.

This led to the development of three products: Amplifi, Cargo Eye and Assemble, all being used by Etihad Cargo today.  

Amplifi updates available cargo capacity based on booked cargo, the cargo offering, and type of aircraft being deployed.

Cargo Eye provides automatic cargo dimensioning in two seconds, and when used with robotics tools Cargo Arm, it can produce a placement plan for cargo. 

Lastly, Assemble plans individual unit load devices based on ready-to-fly cargo available in the warehouse and the load plan generated by Amplifi for each flight.

While the company has recently struck a deal with Etihad, according to Kumar, the airfreight industry and Speedcargo have a lot more room to grow. He believes most airfreight providers still have 25% to 30% available space, which could contribute up to $750 million to the bottom line of the industry annually.

“Airline space dedicated to cargo is very, very small compared to the space designed for passengers so how will they handle more cargo in limited space is the big question … . The reason why the airline adopted this technology is very simple: They are able to carry more cargo with the same available space,” he explained.

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Grace Sharkey

Grace Sharkey is a professional in the logistics and transportation industry with experience in journalism, digital content creation and decision-making roles in the third-party logistics space. Prior to joining FreightWaves, Grace led a startup brokerage to more than $80 million in revenue, holding roles of increasing responsibility, including director of sales, vice president of business development and chief strategy officer. She is currently a staff writer, podcast producer and SiriusXM radio host for FreightWaves, a leading provider of news, data and analytics for the logistics industry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Michigan State University. You can contact her at [email protected].