AIR CARGO ground operator dnata is turning to warehouse drones to identify and correct human errors and documentary and temperature-control failures in its warehouses, writes Thelma Etim.

The company is increasing the digitalisation of its operations by entering into a new agreement with US-based technology start-up Gather AI which utilises autonomous drones to digitise a range of cargo warehouse inventory processes, starting at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

The drones buzz around the warehouse collecting inventory data, whilst measuring temperatures and reading barcodes utilising only their cameras – all without the need for any additional active infrastructure.

Via a user-friendly application, the drones are paired to a tablet device to provide real-time information which can then be viewed directly on the tablet or online, thereby improving visibility of shipments and reducing costs, says a statement.

The autonomous devices can operate at temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius thereby enabling the ground handler to take advantage of the technology inside its cool chain facilities too, it adds.

Dnata plans to gradually roll out the drone inspection systems across its global cargo network over the next few years.

Over the past year, the handler has significantly invested in new technology and digital products, including hi-tech airside cool dollies in Australia and Singapore, a just-in-time freight-handling platform in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), thermal screening in the USA, as well as implementing the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) DG Autocheck digital solution which enables airlines, handlers and freight forwarders to automatically check the compliance of the Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods (DGD) against all relevant provisions of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.

Commenting on the company’s foray into the latest drone technology, Guillaume Crozier, divisional vice-president for operations and product development at dnata, underscores: “Our partner’s autonomous drones and inventory management platform provides greater transparency across our entire operations.

“This new technology, combined with our strong cargo product expertise, enables us to significantly enhance efficiency and mitigate the risk of revenue leakage throughout the customer journey. We continue to adopt the latest technologies to deliver world-class value for our partners at every stage of the cargo handling process,” he adds.

Sankalp Arora, Gather AI’s co-founder and chief robotics engineer, explains that the drones gather label-reads, inventory counts, temperature and volumetric data using AI, providing traceability across operations while providing exceptions against the facility inventory software. “This transparency coupled with near-real-time visibility brings the power of analytics to physical spaces, minimising revenue leakage while helping develop trust across operations,” he insists.

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