Autonomous drones propel dnata’s cargo services to new heights in Dubai

March 04 2024 Print This Article

dnata, a leading global air and travel services provider, announced the successful integration of autonomous drones into its cargo operations in Dubai, UAE.

dnata’s strategic initiative has significantly enhanced operational efficiencies, delivering remarkable benefits for airline customers at both Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) airports.  Key results include 20% reduction in processing times on the rack inventories and over 99% accuracy in shipment tracking.

With a strong commitment to innovation and excellence, dnata was the first cargo services provider to introduce drones to its cargo operations in the UAE in 2021. The drones have seamlessly integrated into the day-to-day workflow and warehouse inventory processes. On average, dnata’s drones monitor some 1,800 shipments daily with 99% accuracy across 2,400 rack locations.

The innovative software of dnata’s partner, Gather AI, enables the drones to map the environment, collect inventory data, count cases, measure temperature, and read barcodes using only their cameras, without the need for any additional active infrastructure. The drones are paired to a tablet device providing live inventory data. The collected data can be viewed directly on the tablet or the web dashboard, via a user-friendly application.

With routine tasks automated, human resources can be allocated to more complex responsibilities, ultimately improving overall workforce productivity. The use of drones has also contributed to a reduction in carbon footprint and improved safety by reducing the need for mobile elevating work platforms (also known as ‘cherry pickers’) and man lifts in the warehouse.  

The drones can operate at temperatures between 0 Celsius and +50 Celsius degrees within a closed environment, enabling dnata to take advantage of the technology in its state-of-the-art cool chain facilities, too.  dnata has plans to introduce them at further stations across its global cargo network in the next years.

Guillaume Crozier, dnata’s Senior Vice President for UAE Cargo and Global Cargo Strategy, said: “We are thrilled to witness the outstanding results that our drone technology has brought to our cargo operations. The precision and reliability of these drones have surpassed our expectations, leading to a transformative impact on our efficiency levels. These advancements have a direct positive impact on our airline customers who can benefit from heightened accuracy, reduced turnaround times and smoother logistics operations. The launch of autonomous drones in our operations reflects our commitment to delivering top-notch services through the latest technologies."

Sankalp Arora, CEO & Co-founder of Gather AI, said:  "Gather AI and dnata have already turned the vision of a fully digitised air cargo ecosystem into a ground-breaking reality. Our autonomous inventory drones are not merely futuristic concepts; they are operational game-changers today, enabling real-time transparency into the inventory and air cargo processes. dnata has been at the forefront of the digital revolution in air cargo, and we at Gather AI are proud to be the technology partners that have made this vision come alive."

In recent years, dnata has significantly invested in cutting-edge technologies and digitalisation to further enhance efficiencies across its cargo operations. In addition to the launch of autonomous drones in its warehouses, key milestones include the rollout of its digital cargo management system, OneCargo.

OneCargo automates key business and operational functions, including safety and quality monitoring, reporting and ULD management, with an integrated, cloud-based platform. AI-driven tools and analytics provide enhanced visibility on sales and business performance, allowing customers to match real-time demand with available capacity for maximum profitability. In addition, OneCargo eliminates all redundancies and manual check sheets, substantially improving operational efficiency. To date, dnata has launched OneCargo in its operations in six countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Switzerland, UAE, USA and Zanzibar (Tanzania) across its global network.

dnata is a leading global air and travel services provider. Established in 1959, the company offers quality and safe ground handling, cargo, travel, catering and retail services in over 30 countries across six continents. In the financial year 2022-23, dnata’s customer-oriented teams handled over 710,000 aircraft turns, moved over 2.7 million tonnes of cargo, uplifted 111.4 million meals, and recorded a total transaction value (TTV) of travel services of US$ 1.9 billion.