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  • Writer's pictureTeam CargoTalk

Drones in logistics increase efficiency of supply chains

When it comes to the competitiveness between drone logistics and conventional logistics, drones would be comparatively cheaper and faster. Drone logistics would be at least 25% cheaper as compared to ground logistics. Use of drones can reduce the carbon footprint associated with traditional delivery methods.

-Abigail Mathias

The use of drones in logistics has the potential to reduce delivery times, lower costs, and increase efficiency, especially in remote and hard-to-reach areas. The use of drones can reduce the carbon footprint associated with traditional delivery methods. Apart from the healthcare sector, the focus has also been on the perishables as well, especially for farmers that produce them, albeit in small quantities. When it comes to the competitiveness between the drone logistics and conventional logistics, drones would be comparatively cheaper and faster. Drone logistics would be at least 25 per cent cheaper as compared to ground logistics. In November 2021, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, launched a program in order to enable the use of drones for healthcare, security, shipping, food services and a host of sectors.

Rabih Bou Rached, CEO and Founder, FEDS-Drone Powered Solutions

Drones are shaking up the air cargo industry in a big way, and it is truly amazing to see what this technology can do. At FEDS, we recognize the potential that drones offer for businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition. With drones, we can deliver faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective solutions for our customers, while reducing our carbon footprint and improving overall sustainability.

As an industry, we are beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible with drones We believe that this technology can be used in a variety of different applications, from transporting medical supplies and disaster relief aid to even delivering packages straight to customer doorsteps. The possibilities really are endless. Of course, with any new technology come challenges.

The regulatory environment surrounding drones is still evolving. Safety is also one of the priorities. Overall, we believe that drones are an important part of the future of air cargo, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of this exciting new technology. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is expected to not only facilitate the movement of goods and materials, but also reduce carbon emissions generated by traditional shipping and transportation methods.

Glyn Hughes, Director General, TIACA

There is a common thread that runs through every industry magazine and every industry awards program, growing number of drones or Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) solutions are being developed and launched. Is this a temporary trend or a new scope for air cargo and transport operations.

TIACA believes it is the latter, AAM solutions provide new opportunities as well as providing lower cost alternatives to some critical current supply chain solutions.

The list of potential applications is growing daily from transporting urgent medical tests to delivering urgent medical supplies from transporting a wedding ring to delivering gold from e-commerce deliveries to urgent mining or drilling equipment from 1 kg to more than 130 t based on some future design plans. Exciting times lie ahead.

Adopting new aerodynamic designs, with a variety of propulsion systems designed around application needs and reduced CO2 emissions emanating from reduced aircraft weight, and with ranges from a few kilometres to a few thousand, the application list shows no signs of waning. The options for mission launch are variable and can apply to specific supply chain needs from VTOL, shortened runway, catapult, or from moving vehicles.

But there are still challenges ahead. Integration with existing commercial aviation is the key. Cross border global regulations need to be established to align with the growing number of national regulatory regimes. Auto pilot, beyond line of sight, pilot training, control centre management and drone port connectivity are some of the next areas that need multiple parties, from industry, manufacturers, international agencies, and national civil aviation authorities to come together and create a new framework, which has safety and security at its heart.

Peter Hewett, Director, Global Cargo, Security and Network Operations Centre, Dronamics

The potential of drones for cargo industry is vital, transforming the way goods are ferried. The most common application of drones is to facilitate the last-mile delivery (LMD) of goods, essentially replacing the courier. At Dronamics, we have adopted a different approach by targeting the middle-mile instead—we believe it is where technology like ours can make a difference. We design, build, and operate large-scale drones for middle-mile logistics, with the aim to reduce delivery times, costs, and carbon footprint. Our approach creates new opportunities for delivering goods to remote or hard-to-reach locations. Our proprietary aircraft, the Black Swan, is a cargo drone that can transport 350 kg (770lbs) 2,500 km (1,500 miles), which can cover majority of Europe in one flight, or Beirut to Cairo, from Riyadh to Tehran. It can also land on any airstrip with 400-metre in length. This ensures we can serve under-utilized routes and provide connections to communities and businesses that did not have access to affordable same-day delivery until now, making it an ideal solution for cargo transportation in challenging environments.

Cargo is a cost-sensitive industry, so our drones are designed with efficiency in mind, reducing cost by 50 per cent, time by 80 per cent and CO2 emissions by 60 per cent. We are the first company to obtain operational license in Europe. This means we have a first-mover advantage to demonstrate our tech, setting up partnerships with leading logistics companies globally, including the GCC. Working together with regulators to develop a regulatory framework and traffic routes into some remote areas, this will benefit the consumer allowing sensitive cargo to reach destinations throughout the GCC.

Our industry is susceptible to market challenges. Cargo is very price sensitive, so innovation also needs to be practical and have the potential for wide adoption. We have spearheaded many innovations that have resulted in a streamlined supply chain process. One of these is the reduction of dwell time in cargo facilities, which we have achieved by shortening the cut-off times for cargo acceptance and delivery by the customer. This has resulted in a decrease in the amount of time required for the supply chain to operate.

Our advanced cargo booking system allows for tracking messages to be sent directly to mobile devices based on predefined key performance indicators) agreed upon with the customer. We are seeking to improve the time of booking process, by gathering more data at the point of booking. This includes capturing key information such as the dimensions of the cargo, advance notification for dangerous goods, and other factors that have been identified by the customer. By doing so, we can anticipate potential issues before they arise.

We focus on efficiency, 80 per cent less time, 50 per cent less cost, 60 per cent less CO2 emissions compared to traditional freight. This is what our customers want and what the final consumer wants too. Some of the areas we are going to be servicing can take days to reach, because they are outside the main hubs. While drones are limited to lightweight payloads, a network can create its own version of density by ensuring its fleet is in constant motion.

Kishan Tiwari, Co-Founder and CEO, TSAW Drones

As a drone technology company, TSAW Drones has discerned the potential that the Middle Eastern market hold and we are impassioned about extending our operational footprint to address the ever-increasing demand for our distinguished services in the region. To achieve this, we have undertaken research and analysis to identify the most

viable routes and areas to start our operations in the Middle East. Our expansion plan is rooted in a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities that the region presents. We recognize that the Middle East is a diverse and complex landscape, with distinct cultural, economic, and geopolitical factors that shape business opportunities and dynamics. We have devoted resources to studying the market, analyzing trends, and identifying areas of growth and potential. Through this process, we have identified key areas where our drone-based solutions can create value for businesses and organizations in the region. From agriculture and construction to oil and gas, we see opportunities to leverage our cutting-edge technology to streamline operations, reduce costs, and enhance safety and efficiency.

Our expansion plan is a testament to our commitment to innovation and growth. We are determined to establish a presence in the Middle East, and we believe our expertise, experience, and technology position us well to succeed in this endeavour. We are excited to work with local partners and stakeholders to bring our drone-based solutions to customers in the region. Our goal is to deliver value to our clients and customers in the ME and beyond. We are confident our expansion plan will allow us to do so, and we look forward to a bright and prosperous future as a leading drone technology company as TSAW Drones and its logistics service arm DRONECO in the region.

Lionel D’Silva, QAQC Manager, Kuwait

Boeing Horizon X is using aircraft technology to develop autonomous air travel. It completed aerodynamic flight tests of self-flying planes (or unmanned cargo aerial vehicles). The objective is to create cargo aircraft that will be able to meet on-demand air deliveries of up to 500 pounds. Air freight will face many logistics challenges soon. The need to digitize the air supply chain and adopt measures such as the use of drones is at the heart of this switchover to the use of new processes.

Amazon is creating aircraft technology to develop safe and efficient drone delivery. Its delivery system is called Prime Air, and when fully developed will be able to get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using drones (or UAVs). the Federal Aviation Administration issued its final version of rules regarding safety compliance for drones that fly over people and at night, including those that Amazon will use to deliver packages.

But with change come challenges—not least increased price pressure, international trade tensions and increasing industry regulation, disruption through digitization, demand to speed up the movement of goods across the world, and of course, the pandemic that has had the whole world on lockdown with borders closed. The future success of the air freight industry is going to depend on stakeholders’ ability to adapt to these changes with speed and agility throughout the supply chain, and to form strategic partnerships.

Scott Henderson, General Manager, The Drone Centre

Drones are becoming an increasingly popular method for delivering cargo to hard-to-reach locations. Their ability to navigate challenging terrain and bypass traditional transportation obstacles, such as traffic congestion and infrastructure limitations, makes them a convenient option for delivering supplies to remote areas, and transportation in the wake of a disaster or for emergencies.

Using drones for cargo delivery requires careful consideration of several factors, including the weight and size of the cargo, the distance to the delivery location, and the availability of suitable landing and take-off areas. Safety protocols and regulatory requirements must also be observed to ensure the safe operation of drones and the protection of people and property on the ground.

One application of drones for cargo delivery is in disaster relief efforts. In case of natural disasters or damaged roads and infra, drones can deliver items such as food, water, and medicines to affected areas quickly. Drones can deliver goods to remote areas. For example, equipment, supplies, or spare parts to offshore rigs. You would have to decide between the helicopter’s speed (and paying for it) or the cost-effectiveness of a boat but lose out on speed—with drones, you get the speed without paying for chopper level prices. As tech advances and norms are refined, we expect to see adoption of drones for cargo delivery.

Glen Rebello, Founder and Director, QuadX IAS

As of today, the use of drones for transportation remains limited. While Amazon has recently launched their Prime Air deliveries in California, it constitutes a fraction of their total deliveries. In fact, drone deliveries and logistics are only efficient and practical for a limited area of operations, typically within a radius of 10-15 km. Beyond the USA, there have been few notable achievements in drone-based air cargo.

This is partly due to the limitations of multirotor drones. However, remotely piloted UAV deliveries using fixed-wing aircraft or VTOL technology have proven to be revolutionary and highly practical.

Zipline focuses on efficient and fast supplies of medical goods around cities, delivering goods to distances of up to 50-100km. Their remotely piloted aircraft have an endurance of over 60 to 90 minutes, making them a practical for urgent medical deliveries in hard-to-reach areas.

While drones are limited to a specific area of service, the industry has a lot of potential for growth. In less than five years, it is possible that we will see drones doing practical and efficient long-range deliveries of goods by air. As technology continues to evolve, the possibilities for drone-based air cargo will only continue to expand. As a drone company, we have been in the business since 2019. We plan to streamline our business propositions and enter the Middle East market soon.


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