The safety and innovation of the air cargo industry impacts everyone from the pilots flying the planes, the passengers they carry and the communities they fly over.
ULD manufacturer Satco says this is the reasoning behind its $10 million investment, which has culminated in the recent opening of the world’s first manufacturer-owned Air Cargo Safety Research Centre (ARC) in Miami Township, Ohio.
The ARC facility places an emphasis on optimising the manufacturing process and safety of unit load devices (ULDs), ultimately increasing the safety of air cargo transportation.
“Our goal has always been to provide world-class, safe products that airlines, cargo and freight companies can trust to protect their employees, assets and the general public,” said Mike Proctor, president and CEO of Satco. “This new facility houses state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and increases our testing capabilities, providing the space we need to continue pushing innovation to move the industry forward.”
With the huge increase of products using Lithium-ion batteries, the risk of fire in cargo carried on aircrafts has become more prominent, which is why a focus point of the ARC facility is the fire safety test facility or burn lab, says Satco.
During a test, a controlled fire is set inside a ULD within the lab. The facility is monitored by 12 thermal imaging and HD video cameras and multiple thermal sensors to understand how a ULD is impacted by a fire during a test. The tests run for a minimum of six hours and temperatures can reach 1400+°F.
The facility also houses a component testing area where the parts that make up a ULD can be tested for fire resistance and safety.
“This facility gives us even more control over the safety of our products,” said Michael Howell, senior vice president of operations and maintenance services at Satco. “We don’t have to wait in line at other testing facilities because we have our own. We are able to run tests whenever we need to and can quickly evaluate our products and get them to market faster.”