Frankfurt Airport launches ‘Smart Air Cargo Trailer’ project

Frankfurt Airport 'Smart Air Cargo Trailer' research project

Frankfurt Airport 'Smart Air Cargo Trailer' research project

Frankfurt Airport has launched a ‘Smart Air Cargo Trailer’ research project aimed at further increasing process efficiency at its CargoCity South freight area.

The airport said it will aim to provide a “solution for autonomous, needs-based shipments and minimise wait times at ramps” as many shipments are often transported individually, putting pressure on the transport system and processing capacity at the ramps.

By participating in the research project, operator Fraport is looking to develop a solution with several different partners to optimise the use of resources. In future, short-distance shipments at CargoCity South are to be managed automatically using a cloud-based platform.

Intelligent truck trailers known as ‘smart trailers are equipped with complex camera systems that continuously record how full the trailer is. Once a certain loading level has been reached, a control system automatically requests an autonomous truck for transportation.

The trucks pick up the trailer and take it to the relevant ramp destination where it is processed by a forwarding agent or cargo handler.

The aim of this need-based order system is to minimise wait times at the ramps and increase utilization of the trucks.

Fraport senior vice president of cargo, Felix Kreutel said: “By applying this new system, Frankfurt Airport can provide even faster and more efficient cargo processes. As an innovation leader in airfreight, we are delighted to support this project.

“As part of the research project, mixed traffic operations consisting of both autonomous shipments and regular truck and car traffic will be tested for the first time at Frankfurt Airport.”

Scheduled to last two years, the project is subsidised with funds from the state of Hesse’s LOEWE State Initiative for the ‘Development of Scientific and Economic Excellence; Funding line 3: collaborative SME projects initiative within the framework of the “Hesse Model Projects’.

Other partners include the Fraunhofer Institute, RheinMain University, autonomous vehicle manufacturer KAMAG, cargo handler LUG, shipping companies Sovereign and Dachser, and logistics software company CargoSteps.