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Second Generation Unit Load Device to improve the Security and Efficiency of the Aerospace Logistics Industry

Final Report Summary - SAFEGUARD (Second Generation Unit Load Device to improve the Security and Efficiency of the Aerospace Logistics Industry)

Executive Summary:
The SAFEGUARD project presents a new technology to improve the security and efficiency of air cargo through the research and development of a second generation Unit Load Device (ULD). With 1 million ULDs around the world worth over 900 million Euros, they are a crucial element of the global aviation industry. For example, in 2009, 80 million tonnes of air cargo was carried by the existing ULD fleet. However, 26 million tonnes of this cargo (33%) was transported on passenger aircraft and industry experts agree that air cargo is the weak link in the supply chain. Considering the potential security problems around the global air cargo supply chain, there is an urgent need to review and improve existing technological solutions. Over the last 20 years, incremental improvements have primarily focused on weight reduction, which has resulted in compromised security within the supply chain.

The SAFEGUARD project results have generated a step change improvement in the security of our air cargo supply chain without increasing weight. In addition to large economic savings, logistics improvements for airlines may be realised with the new design innovations. Safeguard has resulted in strategic research and development results in ULD design, energy harvesting and multi-frequency RFID systems. Patent pending ULD design improvements have included an advanced nesting concept which has been developed and prototyped in full size. The unique nesting design produces a stacking ration of 3:1, enabling aviation supply chains to combat the imbalance of ULD availability across the globe. Furthermore the innovative use of reinforced polymers reduces the weight of a fully secure design and greatly reduces maintenance costs. Advancements in energy harvesting systems have enabled the development of a passive energy harvesting device for use on-board temporary aviation equipment. Such technology may be used for information, tracking or security sealing applications. Project developments also include an ultra-low power impact data logger which records the date and time of impact events. As a lower cost alternative to energy harvesting, a single coin cell lithium battery can provide over 5 years of data logging operations, displaying on a PC interface via USB. Final project developments include the design of a multi-frequency RFID technology, linked to an on-board electronic sealing/locking device. Sealing device is capable of being interrogated by a handheld reader or wirelessly by RFID system using first talk wake up protocol. This new multi-frequency device listens for an incoming signal, determines its frequency, calculates a return transmission and replies on the same frequency. Following the research program, the new technology will enable our SME consortium partners to jointly commercialise multiple new product ranges in a variety of different sectors including aviation, logistics and security.

Project Context and Objectives:
With approximately 1 million Unit Load Devices (ULD) in use around the world worth over €900 million, the ULD is the workhorse of the Global Aviation industry. Used on commercial and passenger aircraft these containers (or pallets) are preloaded with
cargo, baggage and mail to significantly reduce the amount of time required to load an airplane and to insure that all available space is utilised. ULDs also protect the cargo from rain, snow and impact during the loading process. In essence a ULD has a relatively simple construction of for example fibreglass reinforced plastic or aluminium with polycarbonate panels. However, there are a wide range of variations some of which have been specifically designed for certain types of aircraft. ULDs are generally classified by a three letter prefix (i.e. AKN) and the container type (i.e. LD3). Figure 1 illustrates an RKN, which is a basic LD3 container with integral refrigeration unit.

In 2009, 79.8 million tonnes of air cargo was carried by the existing ULD fleet (which includes pallets), which signifies its major importance as an enabler of international trade. However, industry experts agree that air cargo is the weak link in the supply chain. Global Air transport is governed by a patchwork of inconsistent controls and security protocols that make air cargo a potential security threat. As a result passengers are often unaware how close they could be to a potential security risk.

In order to reduce airport screening requirements, individual companies may apply for a security clearance which allows them to pack ULDs without a need for further security checking at the airport. Although, security measures are often acceptable on paper, there are significant weak links in the supply chain, which result in major potential security risks. This is very worrying, considering that approximately 33% of
all air cargo flown onboard passenger aircraft. Often this cargo is loaded onto an aircraft at the last minute, after is has been held for a long period of time in an airside containment bay, without final checking. The result of the weaknesses in air cargo security systems became major news with the recent cargo bomb scare (October 2010), where suspected Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) were discovered in the UK, US and the Middle East.

Despite the current economic slump, it is expected that air cargo traffic will triple over the next 20 years. This will mean a doubling of the global dedicated air freighter fleet. However, a large part of this will still be carried by passenger planes. As a result the demand for ULDs will also increase significantly, along with the supply chain security risk. In light of current security developments, it is very likely that air cargo will be subjected to increased scrutiny. This will result in significant strain on the existing security screening systems. For example, it is currently difficult to scan ULDs with contents. In the US, no security screening equipment has been approved for scanning of ULDs. At the same time, sealing of ULDs is difficult as some are just simple pallets with canvas or plastics to protect the cargo. Hence, it is relatively easy to interfere with the cargo without this being noticed.

Over the last 20 years, many ULD designs have been accredited and approved by the EASA and FAA for use as a cargo container onboard an aircraft. These designs have been very successful and have included many innovative systems such as onboard refrigeration systems and new materials to contain explosions. However the main improvements have focused on weight reduction, which compromises the security of the ULD. In order to grow and expand our market, we must continue the development of ULDs through market driven innovations in technology and materials. These industry led market drivers include:

1. economic impacts on airlines;
2. security threats from international terrorism; and
3. requirements from airlines, logistics services and pan-European supply chains.

Our consortium lead by NWI (UK) includes Maple Fleet Services (UK), DAMCO (Croatia), Delta Kunststoffe (D) as well as leading European researchers such as Fraunhofer (D), George Utz (UK), Novamina (Croatia). We have also recruited a leading cargo airline, Air France Cargo-KLM Cargo (NL) and two associate partners, DHL (D) and Driessen (NL) who will support the project. This will create significant opportunities for our pan-European SME supply chain.

The Objectives of the first project period included:
• Concept development and prototype of light weigh, hard sided ULD with a stacking density of greater than 4:1 and ideal total assembled weigh of 55kg

• Research and simulation of electronic sealing system based on incorporating an electronic locking technology with approved RFID systems for real time real time security interrogation.

• Initial research of impact detection system and an aircraft power harvesting system to reduce maintenance, incorporating a power harvesting module.

The objectives for the second project period included:

• Investigate available energy profile as a function of yaw/pitch/roll acceleration magnitude for a given ULD usage profile. Complete Fourier analysis of vibration spectrum and additional sources of energy, to quantify potential kinetic energy yield during handling

• A modelling and electromagnetic simulation of a passive RFID antennae for medium range high speed operation near metallic objects. Achieve 6 meter range, at 30km/hour, with >99.% accuracy, compliance with FAA regulation

• Design and prototype of foldable, light weight LD3 unit load device based on modular thermoplastic polymer panels Durable, foldable design with 3:1 stacking ratio and a weight of 65 kilograms that conforms to FAA and EASA requirements

• Design of sealing mechanism, control interface and microcontroller electronics including temperature and acceleration sensors Sealing mechanism, IP67 rated, with ability to detect impact, tampering, disturbances to container integrity and provide access for customs without breaking the seal code

• Power harvesting, system design and prototyping. Provides sufficient power to complement integral power storage, to extend operational life to >10 years

• Development and optimisation of sealing electronics based on available power yield and achieve operational life of >10 years

• Prototype, robust, lightweight, tamperproof Safeguard ULD system with integrated sealing and power harvesting system

• Demonstrate functionality and benefits of Safeguard ULD technology to end-users, including projected economic savings and enhanced security.

The research and development of the SAFEGUARD technology will result in a step change improvement in the security of air cargo supply chain, in addition to large economic savings and logistics improvements for airlines. Upon commercialisation, the SAFEGUARD technology will retail at a 30% premium price compared to existing ULD solutions, however this will fall to a 7.5% when full economies of scale are achieved. As a result, by 2016 we will have the critical mass required to be able to reduce the cost of sales price of the ULD from €1,300 to approximately €1,075 which is similar compared to existing solutions. As outlined in Section 3, with the adoption of the new SAFEGUARD technology, every year airlines will save €440 in fuel cost per SAFEGUARD container (11kg weight saving) as well as save the equivalent of
€200 on logistics compared to existing solutions. This is due to a reduction in the numbers of ULDs required per ULD carrying plane. Hence, the overall savings per unit could be €640 per annum. This means that payback of the additional cost of SAFEGUARD technology will be less than 6 months.

Project Results:
The SAFEGUARD project has been split up into 3 stages which comprise of preparatory research, 3 concurrent technical development work streams and technology integration.

Work stream 1:
Design and optimisation of folding polymer reinforced ULD
In this work stream, Delta has worked with George Utz, to characterise and identify suitable polymers. George Utz have produced 3D rendered concept models for multiple ULD folding, stacking and nesting designs. From these models a final design has been selected through a consortium evaluation process. Design optimisation though computer simulations have led to the design being optimised for strength and weight accordingly, and the inclusion of metallic reinforcement strips in the base design. The final detailed engineering design has been manufactured in full scale 1:1 prototype and in smaller vacuum moulded designs to demonstrate our unique nesting concept. This design is now patent pending and all of the IP has been assigned to the consortium partner’s exploitation vehicle (new JV company). Further prototypes have been assembled and tested from the identical materials selected for the base part. These parts have been subjected to a variety of static and dynamic test to verify its performance and suitability as an aviation part.

The first exploitable project result include the patented pending design of the nesting ULD concept. This design is supported by:
• 3D CAD models of each part and assembly,
• 2D engineering drawings,
• Photorealistic renders,
• 1:1 Scale model in carbon fibre
• 1:1 scale model of ABS reinforced base
• Test reports for nesting and base strength
• FMEA analysis simulations
• Patent application with 30 claims
• Design evaluation by KLM (and other end users)

ULD Technical Specifications
Out dimensions (L x W x H): 2,000 x 1,540 x 1,630 mm
Base Dimension (L x W x H): 1,560 x 1,540 x 75 mm
Internal volume (litres): 4,100 litres (4.1 m³)
Weight (kg) of the complete ULD: 66 kg (potential final weight)
Max nesting ratio: 1 : 2,73
Space saving ratio: 63%


Work stream 2:
Development and prototype of electronic sealing systems
In this work stream, Novamina has researched into RFID systems and their application within the global aviation sector. Specific areas of focus have included international legislation, FAA approved products and transmission/handshaking protocols. Research work included a comprehensive analysis of all relevant air transport body regulations and technical criteria. This work has been guided by Maple Fleet Services, as SME with experience in developing products of this industry and by KLM, our major end user partner. Based on this research and the lack of strategy within the global industry to adopt a single frequency, the consortium decided to adopt a multi-frequency approach. This universal design may be used between continents, by listening and responding on one of multiple frequencies. The electronics and software systems have been developed by Novamina, and with the support from Maple they have been integrated into their Airseal locking device with a new I2C protocol. Maple has also developed a custom rechargeable handheld reader with integrated WiFi and 3G connectivity. When connected to the RFID transceiver solution, this device may be used to upload and download the ULD RFID system and store this information within a central database. The device also operates using an electronic Dallas iButton key, for use by end users who do not wish to implement an RFID system. Maple and Novamina have carried out power optimisation enhancements on the designs to increase the battery life of the RFID systems.

RFID System Specifications
Dimensions (LxW): 120mm x 40 mm
RFID mode: Battery assisted passive (Listen first protocol/Talk when interrogated)
RF frequency: UHF (868Mhz,915Mhz)
RF comm. Speed: 1Mbit/s
Range: clear LoS ~50 m
In occupied space ~ 10 m
Connectivity: RF, USB 2.0 I2C, RS232, SPI
Operating range: -50° to 70°C
Operating Voltage: 3.2-6V
Power consumption: sleep - 0.08 mA (0.02mA possible)
working – 22mA (0.04%/overall time)
Special features: automatic frequency identifier and responder


Work stream 3:
Development, simulation and prototype of power harvesting
In this work stream, Fraunhofer have worked with KLM Air France to research and analyse the potential energy yield from a ULD on-board an aircraft during flight. The task was predominantly completed by Fraunhofer IPA and KLM Cargo who undertook and managed 3 long-haul return trial flights, using a specially adapted ULD. These trial flights enabled us to collate important ground handling and in-flight data which included vibration, pressure, light and thermal readings. The acceleration and shock profiles were also measured, as a benchmark to identify anomalies which would represent an impact event. All of the results have been analysed in detail and simulated on a shaker rig. The two most promising candidates for powering an impact sensor for ULDs are solar/light energy and vibration energy from aircraft noise. Following the trials potential electronic components and sensors have been analysed by Fraunhofer IPA and New Wave Innovation, who have past expertise in impact sensors. These task lead into the Work package 4 with the preliminary design of a suitable impact detection circuit schematic and power usage profile.

Multiple mathematical models have been derived and several energy harvesting solutions have been presented and tested. The final harvesting design based on piezo technology has been optimised and prototyped. This design has been tested by Fraunhofer by simulating the aircraft flight on their shaker rig. Fraunhofer has carried out comprehensive test cycles, using genuine vibration data and three-axis actuators, to confirm net power delivery and to produce a projected power balance chart for a typical ULD transit cycle. In order to detect impact events on the ULD container and record the time and date of these, Fraunhofer have developed a design for an ultra-low power impact event logger. Based on a dual accelerometer design and ultra-low power clock, the event logger is capable of being powered indefinitely using the piezo harvester and for 5 years based on a single 2032 lithium battery. 2 sets of design schematics have been provided by Fraunhofer to New Wave Innovation with different TI microcontrollers. New Wave Innovation has then redesigned the PCB layouts to product miniature event logger prototypes, with a USB interface. The 4th generation of these event logger prototypes are currently be manufactured by New Wave Innovation. The latest design is capable of recording maximum impact acceleration along with an estimation of the drop height. These event loggers have multiple commercial applications within the logistics industry.

Technical Specifications of Energy Harvester
Type of Harvester: Vibration energy harvesting device
Harvesting technology: Piezoelectric
Features of core harvester: Hermetically sealed for use in harsh environments
Robust piezo packaging
Pre-attached electrical lead wires and connectors
Connection: Series connection
Clamping type: Adjustable steel plates
Clamping arrangement: Double side by side arrangement
Bandwidth-type: Narrow
Housing: Rigid Aluminium housing
Shock Protection: Protective plastic cage for anti over-bending
Damping factor: 0.1
Impedance matching: 100kOhm
Potential mean energy yield: 14.6 μW
Expected average power output: 2.9 μW

Impact Detection Design Specification
Impact logger: Battery powered double-MEMS impact sensor
Overall power consumption: 2 μW (dual MEMS application)
Accelerometer range +/- 200g
Real time clock (RTC) Micro Crystal RV-2123-C2
Power consumption of RTC 130nA
Interfaces USB-SPI interface – dynamic links library
Lifetime of coin cell battery: 5 years (up to 10 logs/day average)


Following the successful completion of the 3 parallel work streams, the independent technologies have been integrated into a single demonstrator design. The design is functional and been used to analyse each technical element, as well as commercialisation tool to progress the project and is exploitation objectives further.

Potential Impact:
Potential Impact of the Project
Based on a standard LD-3 ULD geometry, our proposed high security, light weight and foldable
ULD will be manufactured from aluminium reinforced polymers. The innovative stacking design
includes integral hinges and weather seals, to enable multiple ULDs to collapse and deliver a return
ratio of over 4:1. As a result multiple ULDs could be stacked and locked together to greatly reduce
transport and storage costs, whilst modular panels will reduce the required maintenance time. The
ULD will contain a hinging door, to the side or front of the container, enabling us to optimise the
available space and employ pre-formed stacking shelves where required to increase the packing
density. In order to ensure the security of the aircraft cargo supply chain the new SAFEGUARD
technology will monitor and record each opening operation of the ULD using an integrated electronic
seal and update this to a central database, creating a secure audit trail. Upon activation the electronics
control system will issue a random serial number, which will change every time the ULD is accessed.
The sealing number may be wirelessly interrogated using a new FAA and EASA approved RFID
communications interface. To support the new integrated sealing technology and reduce the
maintenance requirement, we are also developing an innovative micro-energy harvesting device. This
new technology will be developed and optimised for use on a ULD, based on an analysis of the power available from multiple energy sources during a typical transit cycle.
In 2009, 79.8 million tonnes of air cargo was carried by the existing ULD fleet (which includes
pallets), which signifies its major importance as an enabler of international trade. Despite the current
economic slump, it is expected that air cargo traffic will triple over the next 20 years. This will mean
a doubling of the global dedicated air freighter fleet. The research and development of the
SAFEGUARD technology will result in a step change improvement in the security of air cargo
supply chain, in addition to large economic savings and logistics improvements for airlines. Upon
commercialisation, the SAFEGUARD technology will retail at a 30% premium price compared to
existing ULD solutions, however this will fall to a 7.5% when full economies of scale are achieved.
As a result, by 2016 we will have the critical mass required to be able to reduce the cost of sales price
of the ULD from €1,300 to approximately €1,075 which is similar compared to existing solutions. As
outlined in Section 3, with the adoption of the new SAFEGUARD technology, every year airlines
will save €440 in fuel cost per SAFEGUARD container (11kg weight saving) as well as save the
equivalent of €200 on logistics compared to existing solutions. This is due to a reduction in the
numbers of ULDs required per ULD carrying plane. Hence, the overall savings per unit could be
€640 per annum. This means that payback of the additional cost of SAFEGUARD technology will be
less than 6 months.

SAFEGUARD will provide the same high security functionality as an all-aluminium ULD container but with a lower weight and nesting design,

End user benefits have been categorised as follows:

• Light weight: Fuel savings on plane; ease of handling; fuel savings during road transport. From an initial target of 65kg, the Safeguard technology will weight around 66kg, which is 10kg lighter than a comparable aluminium LD3, saving over €650 in fuel cost per year.

• Foldable & modular configuration: Safeguard has achieved a nesting design which makes it possible to achieve a 3:1 stacking ratio for empty ULDs on-board an aircraft. In addition to this the ULD may be stack up to 10 containers high in a compound or ISO shipping container, greatly decreasing the amount of space required for storage with a ratio of 5:1. On average a 4:1 stacking ratio has been achieved.

• Security: Automatic sealing system to enable access control and prevent tampering and logs impacts being applied to the ULD, provides an increased security solution for EU supply chains. Polymer materials are also easy to scan using current security equipment.

• Tracking: Passive RFID based communication system to reduce manual data entry which may be used across international borders by implementing a multi-frequency approach, saving time and cost.

• Ease of repair: Modularity means that every panel can be replaced easily, saving time and money for end users.


Societal and other benefits to the European and global community have also been outlined below:

Security
Aircargo is a significant safety concern. In order not to cause major delays, it is possible for companies to apply for a security certificate that enables them to load ULDs without further security checks being required. Even if this were 100% reliable, then there is still the chance of tampering with the ULDs during transit to the airport as there is currently no means of detecting intrusion. Safeguard is a solid structure with an on-board lock that will log access and will prevent seal tampering. This will enable significant improvements in security.

Energy
Over 80% of Europe’s energy consumption is derived from fossil fuels of which 50% is
imported. This is expected to rise to over 65% as our dependence on imported oil is expected to rise to 93% and our on reliance on imported gas to 84% by 2030. Considering our increasing exposure to energy supply and price volatility the EC has set ambitious goals to increase Europe’s energy self sufficiency. Any product or system that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels will contribute to enhancing our energy security.

Emissions
Aviation is responsible for between 3-5% of man-made climate change and this will likely
increase with rising demand for air transportation (i.e. Asia). It is therefore important to find ways to improve efficiency. Technology is an obvious but difficult and expensive way of achieving this (i.e. fuel efficient turbines, lighter planes such as the 787). The most
straightforward solution is to reduce unnecessary weight of auxiliary systems that are loaded onto planes, i.e. air cargo. As already outlined every kilogram of weight saved can reduce fuel costs by €65 per annum. As an illustration, every kilogram of weight will result in a fuel penalty of 162 litres of kerosene per annum on an A330. Considering that every litre of fuel burned results in 3.2 kg/CO2 [16], this equates to 528 kilogram CO2 per year, for every kilogram in weight.

Jobs
The manufacturing industry is of critical importance to Europe. Although, a considerable
number of ULDs is made in the EU, there is a trend towards outsourcing to lower labour cost countries. Safeguard technologies will be made in the EU, which will help to secure and create fulltime jobs.
Intellectual Property Protection
The primary for of Intellectual Property protection is though a Patent application which has been applied for through the UK Intellectual Property Office, under application number GB 1316720.0. The consortium has invested considerable time and resources on protecting the highly innovative ULD design which has been developed during the Safeguard project. As a result the comprehensive patent document as finally submitted on 20th September 2013. The application includes 30 innovative claims on the inventive steps involved in the whole design and integration of the Safeguard technologies, along with 14 bespoke 3D sketches to clearly convey the concept.

Ownership for all of the results in outcomes resulting from the safeguard project has be centralised into a new company registered in the UK. The company is called SAFEGUARD AERO Ltd and is jointly owned between the project SME beneficiaries.
An Intellectual Property assignment document has been drafted by Lawyers and signed by New Wave Innovation (SME) and George Utz (RTO). The IP assignment document assigns all of the IP around the patented ULD design to Safeguard Aero Ltd (UK) and is required for further patent applications with the USA.

Dissemination
The Safeguard project has a project website which is regularly updated. The project website domain is www.safeguard.fp7.co. The Safeguard project website contains an overview of the project, partner descriptions, project deliverables and content details for the project coordinator.
After the successfully completion of the project, Safeguard Aero Ltd will design and launch a full demonstration and commercial website. This website will have the domain www.safeguardaero.com which has been registered by the project coordinator. Email address will also be provided to the company Directors.
Towards the end of the project the project partners have produced a short Wiki which will be published on Wikipedia, to promote the Safeguard brand. This small Wikipedia page will be used to inform the wider public about the project. Much of the information on the Wiki will be carefully written to incite interest on the technology, without compromising on future commercial advantage. In addition the wiki does not contain details regarding the project results and the success of the project as this Wikipedia page is open to all members of the public to edit and the contents cannot be controlled by the European Commission, REA, Project Consortium or Safeguard Aero Ltd.
The Safeguard partners have already begun initial industry dissemination activities, in addition to developing a professional leaflet to advertise the project. Some of the dissemination work has included articles in:
1. www.warehousenews.co.uk/.../george-utz-is-flying-high-with-new-ai...
2. www.insidermedia.com/.../53206-east-mids-duo-win-european-invest...
3. www.midlandsbusinessnews.co.uk/.../innovative-east-mids-firm-antic...
4. www.kinaxis.com/.../george-utz-is-flying-high-with-new-air-cargo-...
5. www.pressonshd.com/news/category/distribution-news/P264
6. www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/Entrepreneurs...new-wave.../story.html
7. www.tradexnews.co.uk/issues/227.pdf
8. www.shdlogistics.co.uk/news/.../utz-wins-eu-grant-for-air-cargo-effic...
9. www.industrialmagazines.co.uk/stories/articles/-/...and.../air_cargo_role/

After the completion of the project within the following 24 months, Safeguard Aero Ltd will undergo its own industry dissemination activities, with the support of a professional PR agency. This work will include raising the profile of the new company and the successful results for the Safeguard project.
The Safeguard consortium have produced a promotional video which provides basic information of the core results from the project. It is very important to not provide too much information thorough the video as this may minimise the commercial potential and potentially increase initial competition within the market.
This video is available on the project website, and will be provided as a pack of information to potential customers and anyone who contact the consortium to request additional information about the project.
After the project Safeguard Aero Ltd will seek to strengthen its relationship with IATA, the International Air Transport Association. IATA is an international trade body, created over 60 years ago by a group of airlines. It is the prime vehicle for inter-airline cooperation in promoting safe, reliable, secure and economical air services - for the ultimate benefit of the consumers around the world.
By creating strong working alliances with association such as IATA, Safeguard Aero Ltd will be able to ensure that all of its on-going testing, dissemination and eventually commercialisation work is in line with the International Air Transport Industry.

List of Websites:
http://www.safeguard.fp7.co

Coordinator, James Jarrett, Director,
New Wave Innovation, Oak Business Centre, Ratcliffe Road, Sileby, Loughborough, LE12 7PU, UK, +44(0)7882 876508