Speedcargo outlines next stage of cargo digitalisation

Speedcargo is looking to expand beyond Singapore and Asia Pacific, with eyes set on the Europe, Middle East, Africa and the US.


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Dr Suraj Nair, founder and chief technology officer, Speedcargo

The air cargo and logistics industry is currently at the stage of digitalisation, and while the adoption may be nascent there are those who are working hard to accelerate the transformation beyond paperless trails and transactions.

Singapore-based tech company Speedcargo knows the value of digitising paperwork and workflow management, but the company believes the next stage is capturing the digital information of cargo.

“An industry that is based on the movement of physical goods will need to digitise cargo that it handles and the infrastructure it uses to be able to drive optimisation,” said Dr Suraj Nair, founder and chief technology officer at Speedcargo.

Industry solution
SPEEDCARGO, like most companies in the city state, saw the country’s ageing workforce as an opportunity for automation. The company, which spun out of industry-funded research by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), is now looking to develop technologies like AI and robotics to automate the build up of cargo pallets for ground handlers.

Its cloud-based solutions aim to address digitisation, optimisation and automation in handling cargo that are being loaded and unloaded from planes. The benefits, the company says, extend across the entire value chain, including airlines, freight forwarders and 3PL logistics service providers.

“Automation as a technology can be deployed across many of the current processes that exist in the air freight industry,” Suraj noted, adding that the solutions focus on compute heavy processes that cannot be undertaken without substantial training but can easily be done by a computer algorithm.

For instance, a flight plan that takes a human anything between 45 minutes to an hour takes mere seconds using its AI software CARGO MIND, whilst physical activities that require effort and potentially dangerous, such as lifting cargo, can be automated using the gantry robot, aptly named CARGO ARM.

Innovation mindset
In Singapore, Speedcargo works closely with ground handlers SATS and dnata to push the use of its AI and robotics solutions. The company recently partnered with Microsoft to explore the concept of creating a digital twin for physical cargo. It also wants to develop data-driven services for warehousing, freight forwarding, trucking and logistics, not just air freight ground handling, with Microsoft Azure.

According to Nair, Singapore is an ideal test bed and has many advantages for a startup focused in the logistics industry. He says, aside from government support, substantial investments in the research and startup space has created an environment where industry players are starting to seek innovative new technologies.

“This mindset change facilitates easy access, ideas exchange and the ability to experiment fast. This is critical for the development and deployment of new technologies,” he added.

Global perspective
In addition, the mix of industry participants in Singapore provides any startup a microcosm of the global market whilst providing easy access to the entire logistics chain as a major trade hub in the Asean region.

“It has the presence of all the leading players as well as a good mix of niche service providers, giving a startup access to a mix of industries that reflects customers across the global landscape,” he continued.

Looking ahead, Speedcargo plans to lead the industry standard for digitising, optimising and automating cargo handling for the air freight industry in the next to 3 to 5 years and are looking beyond the city island.

“The nature of the industry we operate in is global, and if we want to be global, we need to provide solutions to the industry. Despite being a company that was launched at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, we have had conversations with the industry in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Australia in the Asia-Pacific region; Israel, Turkey, UAE and Germany in EMEA; and in the US.”



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