“From research to the rollout of the digital improvement plan ULD Care & Control”

“From research to the rollout of the digital improvement plan ULD Care & Control”

Dennis Borst is a former student of the Inholland University of Applied Sciences in Haarlem where he successfully defended his thesis on the ULD process between chain partners at Schiphol Airport. It is rare that a student is in a position not only to undertake research but, as a result of that research, contribute to product development and ultimately be given the opportunity of launching the product on the market. Unique opportunities resulting from education, practical research and product development with cooperating partners.

Let me introduce myself
My name is Dennis. I’m 24 years old and I recently completed a four-year logistics HBO (higher professional education) course. For my thesis I studied the administrative processes related to Unit Load Devices (ULDs). As part of this research I held interviews with forwarders, airlines and handling agents and I gained valuable practical experience with a handling agent at Schiphol.


After six months of research, the conclusion was that there were enormous gains to be made for the chain partners involved if digitalisation and data sharing were to be applied to ULD receival, returning and inventory control.

Last February I successfully justified my thesis in front of my graduation mentors and I received my diploma. And the good news does not stop there as I was immediately offered a position with CargoHub and given the task of rolling out a digital ULD Care & Control improvement plan for the air cargo industry based upon the many recommendations from my research. In order to provide a better insight into the problems, I have written an article examining the issues within the ULD processes.

ULD Digital Care & Control simplifies handovers, acceptance and stock control
Similar to many other areas in air cargo transport and logistics, ULD handovers are awash with manual processes. A lack of digitalisation and a dependency on paper forms, telephone calls and manual data entry lead to the process being hindered.

The air cargo sector works with communication techniques that cannot always respond flexibly and efficiently to the needs of the market players. Air cargo agents have only limited connectivity with the airlines and handling agents’ systems with regard to ULD data. Agents often do not have a good overview of their ULD stock and they work with handwritten or typed ULD return lists.

These processes are time-consuming, prone to error and then, once again, have to be manually processed by the handling agent. Incorrect input of ULD data leads to the lack of an accurate insight into ULD stocks at airlines and, if signed receipts cannot be submitted, this can lead to costs for the handling agent and forwarder.

ULD control for forwarders
In order to cut through this inefficient way of working, CargoHub has added a Digital ULD Care & Control solution to the CargoHub CDM platform. In cooperation with the airline and the handling agent, it is possible for the forwarder to be presented with a digital summary of the ULDs being received. The forwarder also has a complete overview of his ULD inventory sorted per handling agent. By having this overview, a ULD return list can be produced with just a couple of clicks. The ULD return list is in a PDF format displayed online as well as being emailed to the forwarder.

ULD control for handling agents
The ULD return list created by the forwarder is also digitally available to the handling agent. The forwarder therefore no longer has to take his piece of paper to the handling agent. The handling agent can, using the mobile app, accept the ULD return list during unloading. As a result, the driver no longer needs to go to the office to hand in signed lists. Barcodes are also shown on the ULD return list in order that handling agents, who do not use the platform, can scan the barcodes with a handheld device. Digital acceptance ensures faster delivery and a process that is less prone to error which, in turn, ensures that less contacts with airlines are required.

The ULD app offers numerous advantages. Less administration for the forwarders, a digital overview recording proof of delivery and documenting any damage, a simplified acceptance process with reduced input errors and faster unloading of ULDs at the handling agent.

ULD control for airlines
Last but not least, airlines can also monitor ULD Care & Control real-time via the platform.

I am very happy to explain, under no obligation, how digital ULD Care & Control can help realise significant cost savings.


Dennis Borst | Product manager
Email: support@cargohub.nl

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