Digital Test Field Air Cargo to digitalize air freight

7 million Euros for new BMVI project

On September 19th, 2021, the starting signal was given for an industry-wide research activity in air cargo logistics, which the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML is leading on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) under the title "Digital Test Field Air Cargo" (DTAC). The aim is to increase the efficiency and performance of the air cargo transport chain, through improved and digitized interfaces, connecting all players involved, and to digitize most other processes as well as using autonomous resources.

© Fraunhofer IML

To this end, the project partners want to create a neutral, Germany-wide research framework that bundles air cargo-specific research activities and identifies respectively makes available digitization approaches in the various process stages.

Over a period of three years, integrating and overarching "lighthouse solutions" are to be developed and demonstrated in six subprojects under the scientific leadership of Fraunhofer IML and Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. The implementation of these projects is planned with eight permanent operative project partners as well as one associated partner. The combination of different players covering the entire air cargo logistics including pre- and on-carriage makes it possible to bring in and consider perspectives and requirements for further developments from the entire industry. This creates the opportunity to develop digitization solutions across locations, on the other hand, it renders possible the necessary acceptance for implementation in existing process flows.

"We want to make air cargo more digital and efficient. We will only succeed if existing capacities are better utilized and processes are optimized. That is why we are working on digital solutions at the German airport sites that can speed up air cargo and thus also reduce air freight emissions. For the first time, all major sites in Germany are working together to strengthen Germany as an air cargo location: Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Cologne! The air cargo industry is characterized by strong competition. In this project, we are bringing together all stakeholders and thus preparing the German location for international competition in the future," emphasizes Andreas Scheuer, German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

The BMVI supports the project with approx. 7 million euros for implementation. In terms of content, the project covers the three topics of "Standardized data exchange between stakeholders in the air cargo transport chain with reference to national and international initiatives" (e.g. eFTI and ONE Record), "Automation of planning, handling and transport" and "Added value through AI-supported optimization and forecasting". In addition to Cologne, Frankfurt, Leipzig and Munich airports, the consortium partners include Lufthansa Cargo AG, DB Schenker and Sovereign Speed GmbH as logistics service providers, as well as CHI Deutschland Cargo Handling GmbH. LUG aircargo handling GmbH is also involved as the first associated partner.