Research Projects

Modernizing Air Cargo Operations in U.S. Airports In Reserve

Air cargo is vital part of supply chain for many companies and cities. Air cargo carries about 35% contribution in value terms of the world's cargo, only 1% in volume, yet many airports, especially in the USA, still do not have modern technology such as Cargo Community Systems, material handling systems in warehouses, and airports designed to move cargo, including e-commerce cargo, at the same speed and efficiency as baggage. Airports need to understand what are global best practices and build facilities, procedures and adapt technologies that can move air cargo operations into the modern era. Today, we still use paper airwaybills in many instances, when passenger got rid of paper tickets decades ago.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Today, air cargo is very manually operated despite the challenges keeping trained workers as they often leave due to issues getting SIDA badges, and because the wages are low. Aviation developers still build warehouses with columns, small doors, and spaces not suited for efficient operations of cargo, and ground handlers and airlines still do not have cargo community systems to offer transparency in track and trace for cargo. The results are slow operations where despite paying premium freight and insurance fees for air cargo, the cargo still moves slow and often have staff not trained to deal with sophisticated cargo. Ultimate results are inefficiencies, high costs which ultimately get passed on to consumers, pollution and congestion from trucks, safety issues from ramps littered with FOD, and poor quality service.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The industry need a manual of best practice of the things they should be considering in developing new cargo buildings on airports, how airlines should more efficiently operate their cargo operations, and how GHA's should support cargo growth and efficiencies. It should be best practice, with an emphasis on the the future, not just U.S. practice, but what's happening globally in this sector of logistics. Another driver to consider is what is e-commerce motivating us to do to create more speed and efficiency. E-commerce today, is the ultimate best practice. How can we get all cargo to move in that direction?

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

The consultants will have to look at what's happening globally in this area in the most advanced airports and air cargo development facilities. They will also have to examine how these airports will be come adaptable to new technologies that will impact cargo in the next 20-30 years, e.g. drones, robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cargo community systems, smart warehouses, sustainability, e-commerce companies like Amazon and Alibaba, and what will the new labor force look like.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

Professional Fees: $300,000
Travel: $30,000
Admin support: $70,000
Researchers: $100,000
The company and subcontractors will need to visit at least 2-4 of the best facilities globally, and interview needs of companies like pharmaceutical, e-commerce, and a variety of B2B and B2C companies to determine best practice. They will then have to team up with the top schools in logistics such as Georgia Tech, Supply Chain and Logistics Management Institute, to determine what are the new technologies, new building materials that can be built fast and cost effective, and provide a guideline that airports looking to expand cargo can look at as a guideline.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

While there are some cargo related research, non so far touches on developing modern air cargo facilities.

Idea No. 387