British Airways using drones to automate inventory counts
British Airways’ parent company, IAG is implementing some cutting edge automation solutions in response to the rapid pan-industry digitalisation of the air freight sector. Announced on Thursday, IAG Cargo will start using autonomous drones in a move towards full automation of inventory counts in its air cargo facilities, following a successful trial.
With a vision to fully automate inventory counts at its air cargo facilities, IAG Cargo has been working closely with FlytBase on aerial inventory scans at its Madrid facility.
Inventory counting, while critical to freight and logistics operations, is a massive train on man hours, consuming thousands of hours each year across IAG Cargo’s hubs in the UK, Spain, and Ireland. On top of this, rapid global growth in ecommerce and increasing customer expectations of immediacy when it comes to delivery mean that air freight operators are having to increase the frequency of counts.
Drones, according to IAG, can support this increase in inspection frequency. Flytbase reportedly is providing IAG Cargo with cost-effective hardware, intelligent automation software, and continuing advances in indoor autonomous navigation using machine vision and AI/ML techniques as part of its FlytWare solution, which provides autonomous aerial inventory scanning.
Nitin Gupta, CEO, FlytBase, explained: “Flytware’s trials at IAG Cargo have been successful in uncovering the significant opportunities and key challenges of deploying fully autonomous drones for inventory counts in warehouse rack storage. Not only can aerial inventory scans provide cost-effective and high frequency cycle counts, but they can also measurably impact productivity and support regulatory audits. The availability of live video feeds and location-wise image data, coupled with capabilities such as precision landing and WMS integration make FlytWare a highly compelling alternative to not only manual counts, but also RFID, AGVs and other methods that remain expensive and difficult to scale. Needless to say, we look forward to deploying FlytWare across IAG Cargo, a leading advocate for aerial inventory counts.”