Swissport launches test of automated guided vehicle in Frankfurt

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Photo: Swissport


Swissport has launched a pilot with an unmanned, automated guided vehicle at its new cargo center at Frankfurt Airport, as part of a long-term test, replacing the manual transport of cargo. 

Swissport’s 17,000 sqm air cargo centre in Frankfurt, complete with an integrated CEIV certified Swissport Pharma Center, is equipped with cargo logistics and handling innovations. An automated material handling system ensures efficient cargo processing and storage while the FAIR Link slot booking app controls the access of trucks and optimises workflows.

Taking the automatisation and digitisation drive one step further, Swissport is now testing an automated guided vehicle, or AGV in short, together with Loedige industries.

“The automated guided vehicle at our Frankfurt air cargo centre is an important next step in a long line of air cargo innovations that we have been implementing across the globe.” says Dirk Goovaerts, Global Cargo Chair at Swissport. “The AGV has the potential to increase the efficiency, flexibility, and safety of Swissport’s air cargo handling services and to take our service delivery to the next level.”

Swissport has deployed a wide range of technologies in its Frankfurt cargo centre to support its customers as well as its workers in their daily activities. Upon the completion of the pilot, the results will be evaluated to decide on a possible introduction of the vehicle.

With a load capacity of 6,800 kg, the 10-foot automated guided vehicle is designed to independently transport a variety of unit load devices (ULD’s), including 15ft containers, inside the air cargo center. It reduces the need for manual handling and frees up staff for more complex and value creating tasks. The AGV is highly mobile thanks to an omnidirectional drive system with secure laser scanning to avoid any collision. It has the potential to connect all areas of the cargo facility, such as the Pharma Center, truck docks, castor decks and the ULD storage area.

The AGV communicates with gates and other automated equipment, can cover large distances and is fully compatible with Swissport’s state-of-the-art material handling system, which was also designed together with Loedige Industries and introduced at the start of operations of the new air cargo centre in 2020.