Ensuring innovation, digitisation and sustainability in the ULD sector


The air cargo landscape has witnessed a significant transformation in recent times, and Unilode has sought to ride that wave of evolution through its strategic vision and commitment to innovation, digitisation, and sustainability.

Unilode’s steadfast dedication to fortifying its global network is evident through its strategic ULD management partnerships with renowned airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, LATAM, Saudia, Air Canada and Cargolux. These partnerships have played a pivotal role in bolstering the strength and diversity of Unilode’s global network. 

“All these airlines are Unilode’s most loyal and longstanding customers,” Ross Marino, CEO of Unilode, emphasised. 

“These partnerships also deliver synergies across our repair network, enabling us to optimise operations and develop more sustainable practices, contributing to our collective commitment to reducing carbon emissions of the aviation industry.”

“These alliances extend beyond mere collaboration, as they exemplify Unilode’s commitment to operational excellence and the mutual growth of its partners.”

“The partnerships have not only facilitated fleet growth but have also expanded Unilode’s geographical reach, ultimately enhancing its ability to deliver exceptional services worldwide.”

READ: Guiding the ULD market through turbulence

Power of digitalisation

Unilode’s achievement in operating the world’s largest digital fleet of ULDs demonstrates its unwavering commitment to innovation. 

Marino underscored the importance of digitisation, stating, “Efficiency, accuracy, and real-time insights are more important than ever, so the digitisation of our ULD fleet empowers us to deliver unparalleled value to our customers.” 

The company’s commitment is further reflected in the fact that 90% of its impressive 160,000+ ULD fleet is digitally enabled.

This digital transformation brings forth a myriad of benefits. Advanced tracking technologies employed by Unilode empower it to monitor ULD movements, optimise allocation, and proactively address potential issues, safeguarding customer operations. 

Marino elaborated: “Furthermore, digitisation enables us to offer value-added services…this gives greater control to our customers and leads to increased satisfaction and trust in our services.”

The strategic utilisation of data-driven insights enables Unilode to stay agile, meet evolving customer needs, and exceed industry standards.

The company’s digitisation efforts aren’t solely limited to operational efficiency; they also align seamlessly with sustainability goals. 

By optimising ULD utilisation through digitisation, Unilode significantly reduces unnecessary resource consumption, contributing to the aviation industry’s overarching environmental targets.

Cutting-edge tag technology

Unilode’s dedication to innovation extends to its ground-breaking tag technology. Marino described it as an innovative solution that redefines the tracking, monitoring, and management of ULDs. 

Equipped with advanced sensors, Unilode’s smart tags are attached to each ULD and continuously collect and transmit real-time information about location and condition. The technology leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide unprecedented supply chain visibility, allowing airline customers to track ULDs in real time across vast distances.

This heightened transparency enhances cargo security, mitigates risks, and enables more accurate planning and forecasting. 

The sensors embedded in the tags also monitor essential parameters such as temperature, humidity, shock, and light, ensuring cargo remains in optimal conditions throughout its journey. 

Marino added, “Our customers can access this data in real time, allowing them to take immediate corrective actions if any anomalies are detected, thereby preventing potential damage to valuable cargo.”

Staving off shortages

Unilode’s innovative solutions address one of the most persistent challenges in the air cargo sector – ULD shortages. Marino elaborates on the strategic measures Unilode employs to ensure seamless operations for its customers. 

He emphasised the significance of owning and operating the world’s largest fleet of ULDs, which enables Unilode to provide an extensive inventory of containers and pallets, catering to varying needs and fluctuating demand patterns.

Unilode’s comprehensive approach also encompasses advanced inventory and repair management systems, ULD management teams, ground services, and MRO stations at strategic locations. Marino highlights the role of their digital ULD fleet in offering enhanced visibility into ULD availability and usage, minimising the risk of shortages.

“Overcoming ULD shortages is a challenge that Unilode proactively and successfully addresses through innovative solutions and strategic approaches by leveraging a combination of ULD fleet size, inventory management systems, global ULD management, our MRO network and digital solutions,” Marino said. 

“ULD availability is a critical element for efficient cargo operations and therefore we have implemented a range of measures to help our customers overcome potential challenges and optimise their supply chain processes.” 

READ: Unilode and AviusULD sign long-term agreement for ULD supply

Sustainability at its core

Sustainability isn’t merely a buzzword for Unilode; it’s a fundamental aspect of the company’s identity. Marino speaks passionately about the company’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation industry. 

By optimising ULD usage, employing sustainable MRO practices, and introducing innovative technologies, Unilode contributes to a more environmentally friendly airline operation.

The company’s sustainability efforts not only align with its values but resonate with its partners and customers as well. As corporate social responsibility gains prominence, Unilode’s eco-friendly solutions offer its customers a means to align their operations with sustainable practices.

“Our commitment to use lighter weight and more robust ULDs, extending their lifecycles, implement more sustainable MRO practices and optimise ULD usage result in reduced waste and increased resource efficiency. These practices help us and our customers operate more efficiently, which ultimately enhances the overall sustainability of the industry,” Marino explained. 

Resilient future

Amid the ongoing global challenges faced by the airfreight market, Unilode remains resilient and forward-looking. Marino acknowledged the dynamic changes in the industry, including rising fuel prices and economic uncertainties. Despite these challenges, he expresses cautious optimism for the second half of the year.

Unilode’s collaborative approach with its customers and its unwavering commitment to ULD availability empower airlines to navigate the evolving market landscape. 

Marino introduced the success of a new pay-per-need ULD supply model that enhances agility in responding to changing cargo demand and requirements.

 “We continue to work collaboratively with our customers and ensure ULD availability anywhere, anytime, to enable them to increase their cargo revenues and provide them with opportunities for operational improvements, resource optimisation and innovation,” he explained.