Prof. Yogesh Bhandari presents the challenges in ODC handling at airports and suggests necessary precautions and measures.
What is Cargo?
Cargo, also known as freight, refers to goods or produce being transported from one place to another by water, air or land. Originally the term ‘Cargo’ is referred to goods being loaded onboard a vessel. These days, however, cargo is used for all types of goods, including those carried by rail, truck or intermodal container.
Though Cargo means all goods onboard a transport vehicle, it does not include items such as personnel bags, goods in the storage, equipment or products to support the transport carried onboard. Cargo transport is mainly for commercial purpose for which an Airway Bill or Bill of Lading or other receipt is issued by the carrier.
Goods Transported by Air: General & Special
Goods transported by aircraft may contain anything from mail to freight. There are different types of transportation such as passenger, cargo (freighter) and combi. Spare volume not used for luggage of commuters is used in the passenger aircraft. Cargo can also be transported in the passenger cabin as hand-carry by an 'on-board courier'. Air transport plays a huge role in logistics and trade, managing and controlling the flow of goods, information, and energy.
The various types of cargo transported by air fall into two main groups: General Cargo and Special Cargo. Special Cargo is divided into smaller specialised sub-groups.
General Cargo: These are items that do not fall into the Special Cargo categories and do not require any extra precautions or special handling during transport. These types of items are retail and mostly consumer goods (with the exception of mobiles, lap tops and tablets), dry goods, hardware, textiles, handicrafts, auto parts and more. Think of your average objects: most of those would fall in the General Cargo category.
Special Cargo: These are goods that, due to their nature, weight, dimensions and/or value, may have specific requirements, including packaging, labelling, documentation and handling through the transport chain. The transport of these goods is addressed through specific regulations that must be followed when preparing, offering, accepting and handling. Items include dangerous goods, live animals, perishable goods, cargo that is time and temperature sensitive, and odd dimensional cargo. It is necessary to ensure that there are globally harmonised standards for safe transport of these products.
Odd Dimension Cargo
Movement has been a challenging task for most logistics companies. Planning and strategizing a completely flawless project is an extremely tedious process. Very few logistics companies are capable of handling an Odd Dimension Cargo in an efficient manner. The technicalities involved in its movement are far too many. Only a person with adequate knowledge on this subject will be able to provide guidance with regards to the equipment required for safe and systematic transit and transport.
The odd dimensions of the cargo can hinder movement of traffic. In order to prevent such a circumstance, there are certain conditions that need to be fulfilled. A thorough route survey needs to be conducted. Keeping the dimensions and the load of the cargo in mind, one needs to narrow down on the most ideal alternative. Route selection is followed by seeking special permissions from the concerned authorities for movement of the cargo to its desired destination (warehouse, port, airport).
However, there are certain restrictions imposed on the Odd Dimension Cargo freight. The duration of movement per day is restricted and strictly monitored. Hence, the days required for transit need to be calculated beforehand for timely delivery. A buffer period should also be taken into account to overcome any unexpected delays.
Certain airport formalities, too, need to be satisfied in advance. A meeting with the authorities and airlines helps to procure the desired disposition. Decisions with respect to number and types of cranes and forklifts ensure priority movement. Besides, Inland Container Depots require ODC movements as well. Cautious steps would assist in delivery of top-notch services.
There are a numerous safety precautions that need to be taken owing to the weight and shape of the cargo. Special equipment for loading and unloading the cargo, as well for the ground staff handling the hefty and Odd Size Cargo, are of utmost importance.
ULDs (Unite Load Devices)
The following guide to the airfreight containers, also called Unit Load Devices (ULDs), has been developed from materials designated by International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Air Transport Association of America (ATA). This guide lists and illustrates the average external dimensions and weight limitations of the primary containers in use today. Exact dimensions and weight limitations will vary by manufacture and availability will vary by air carrier and trade lane.
About the author:
Yogesh Bhandari is a science Graduate from Delhi University and has a keen interest in Aviation. He has worked with Japan Airlines, New Delhi, for 15 years. He owned a Clearing & Forwarding IATA company which closed down during Covid-19. He is a Visiting Faculty at Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University, at Amethi, Uttar Pradesh (under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, GOI) and a Guest Faculty at GMR Aviation Academy.