Air freight is an industry that’s not frequently discussed, but one without which the world as we know it wouldn’t be able to survive. The shipment of goods via plane is the most important when it comes to express shipments around the globe. Despite its current indispensability, the origins of air cargo are relatively new. The first delivery flight took place on November 7th, 1910, with a route between Dayton and Columbus, both cities in Ohio, USA. The sixty-five-mile flight carried a package of two hundred pounds of silk for the opening of a store. Air freight has come a long way since then, and is now the backbone of goods transportation. Without it, many people would have to wait significantly longer amounts of time to come in possession of what they’ve ordered.
However, as will all other industries, there are always things that can be improved, ways in which you can make the processes more accurate and efficient. Here are some ways to boost ULD performance and keep everything in perfect working order.
The best way to realize if something is wrong is to conduct frequent assessments of product quality. This is important as repairs done in due time can save you a lot of travel. If a unit loading device malfunctions en route, it can create many unpleasant consequences. However, if you take the time to check the condition of the ULDs often, you will be able to catch minor problems before they spiral out of hand and create trouble.
ULDs are sturdy, designed to withstand the constant wear and tear of being loaded on and off aircrafts, placed on rolling doilies and being picked up by forklifts. They’re also made to resist unfavorable weather conditions, such as extreme heat or oscillating shifts in moisture levels. Despite their sturdiness however, they must be maintained in order to have them serve their purpose. Maintenance also helps promote the device’s lifespan, thereby reducing the company costs associated with repeated purchase of new ULDs to replace the old ones.
Consider the capacity
Not ULDs are made the same, and they come in different sizes depending on the airplane they’re meant to be fitted to. The capacity of the pallets is measured in positions. Each half-width occupies one position. Traditionally, each row in a compartment consists of two positions that can be occupied. Knowing these figures minutely is important in order to establish how much can be loaded in a single container, so that the cargo doesn’t strain the unit load device. It’s also important for storage inside the aircraft so that the ULDs don’t move against each other in a way that can damage their integral structure.
As with all other types of products, the one that’s going to hold up better is the one that’s better made. When it comes to choosing a trustworthy ULD manufacturer, you can’t go wrong when choosing VRR. With a large body of expertise in the field, they know how to devise containers that are perfectly personalized to your needs. Some of the categories you can consider for purchase include:
- General: Ideal for a multitude of cargo including mail, parcels, packages or special items, speed and efficiency are essential when express transport is concerned. And because the security of the consignment is a top priority, the general ULD is both solidly-built and designed to make the best use of the space inside the aircraft.
- Inflatable and collapsible: One of the biggest concerns of the air freight industry has been the storage and relocation of empty ULDs as they’re empty and awaiting other deliveries. The simple solution to this problem are inflatable and collapsible containers that can be folded and stacked when not in use.
- Cool: This is the ideal answer for cargo that is temperature-sensitive and needs to be transported under certain conditions. This is particularly helpful in the supply chains of food and pharmaceutical products and essentially serves the same functions as an ULT freezer. When you use a cool ULD, you ensure that the cold supply chain remains unbroken throughout transport, maintaining the integrity of the products inside. It also comes in various sizes, so it can be fitted into aircraft of all sizes. The RKN version is compatible with no fewer than fourteen types of airplanes, is hardly reliable and performs well for several days. The RAP can hold up to three times more cargo than the RKN, making it more suitable for heavy-duty, large aircraft. Both models include continuous data logs that can be exported to check safety.
- Fireproof: Fires are a great hazard during airplane transportation of electronic devices due to the presence of the volatile lithium-based batteries. They can occasionally self-ignite, but the fire suppression on planes can’t, to this date, handle lithium fires. A fireproof container has the ability to contain the fire for at least six hours, meaning the pilot will have sufficient time to land and evacuate the plane.
- Horse stalls: Perhaps not the first type of container that would come to mind but very important nonetheless since it transports living beings. You’ll want to get a certified container that’s designed for shipping the animals in perfect safety and comfort.
- Customized: Ideal for the transportation of odd-sized and high-value products, this type of ULD takes a variety of special conditions into account including vibrations, temperature changes and dust particles that could have detrimental effects on the cargo. In order to move high-end cargo across the world, you’ll need high-end solutions.
Account for the risk factors
Some containers are more of a handful than others which means you must show them special care. The age factor is one of the main things to take into account. A container that’s twenty-five years old is going to see more wear and tear compared to one that’s only been in use for five months. The older models are usually trickier to repair, and some are too old to be repaired and need to be taken out of order. The material they’re made of can sometimes not be in stock anymore, in which case the owner should stop using them and replace them with newer alternatives.
As with all other products, prevention is the best care, so it’s important that ULDs are handled with care during transport. Improper use of forklifts, for example, can damage the structure. If you notice any trouble with a container you should begin repairs immediately, as leaving the damage unattended can create bigger issues that may become impossible to fix.