There is a great if not slightly
unknown and perhaps overlooked industry event that began today Monday in Asia. On October 8, ULD CARE opens its 31st Annual ULD CARE
Conference in Guangzhou, China.
If you think a 45-minute dissertation on
air cargo straps is a bit much, you will get no argument from us.
But for Urs Wiesendanger, (above right)
President, ULD CARE, and Bob Rogers, (above left) VP & Treasurer,
ULD CARE, kicking the cans has been a joyful lifelong obsession.
To Urs and Bob, the devices are eye candy
on the hardstand. It’s always a beautiful thing to see them trail
around behind tugs and move up from the ramp into the bellies and main
decks of waiting aircraft.
Urs and Bob love ULDs with an uncommon passion
heard and felt in the way this charming duo fly off on the subject.
So as a taste of today’s event, expect
that the aforementioned China gathering will include some dialogue that
goes something like this.
“OK,” declares Bob Rogers, getting
right down to business, “so BLE (bluetooth low energy) tells you
where your ULD is, but it doesn’t tell you who has it!”
“This,” Urs states, “is
where Blockchain comes on board!”
“Can you imagine the Fedex delivery
man coming to your office, handing over a package, and not collecting
“Or a handover process that relied
on a piece of paper?” Urs says.
“Basically,” Bob chimes in,
“ULD handover processes have not advanced since the 70s, and until
recently seemed likely to remain that way for the next millennium.”
Says It All
ULD CARE, as the name implies, gets in and
out and all around ULD devices that are seen but often not heard from
in the air cargo business.
“But,” Bob Rogers insists, “ULD
CARE has for over 40 years run the IULDUG system, which our member airlines
use to record and manage the transfer of ULD between airlines (Interlining).
“This system has never been adopted
beyond airline to airline transfer, although it’s always been a
ULD CARE ambition to somehow bring all ULD transfers, regardless of the
parties concerned, onto a single industry neutral platform,” Urs
“Enter Blockchain,” Bob Rogers
smiles, “and we are not talking Bitcoin, or even Cryptocurrency
“Blockchain has a clear applicability
to asset transfer in logistics. See our Blockchain
Trend Report as just one example.”
“Already both SQ and CX (Asia Miles)
run their loyalty programs on Blockchain,” Bob said. A recent report
Miles outlines the process.
So Why Not?
“So ULD and Blockchain . .
. why not?” Bob says.
“Indeed one major airline here in
Asia has already done proof of concept on a blockchain-based system using
a handheld app for data input.
“ULD CARE is deeply engaged in evaluating
why and how Blockchain can replace our current central server-based IULDUG
system that has handled airline to airline ULD transfers (Interlining)
for decades,” Bob Rogers concludes.
“The IATA RP 1654,” Urs says,
“defines the ULD Control receipt which records the transfer of a
ULD between parties and which signifies a transfer of responsibility for
that ULD between the parties.
“But as we all know,” Urs said,
“ULD don’t get the treatment they require, and as a result
end up on the aircraft in an unserviceable condition.”
“Blockchain and BLE, can, between
them, undo this Gordian Knot, freeing ULD from its current status near
the very bottom of the food chain and putting it fair and square where
it deserves to be, as a responsibly controlled and handled item of aircraft
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