Extensive ground-based logistics processes are required in order to provide in-flight catering.
How Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), a subsidiary of The Emirates Group, puts this masterpiece into action was demonstrated by Unitechnik FZE at their fourth Logistics Day in Dubai, UAE. Approximately 40 international logistics experts were able to tour two different installations and get an idea of the level of automation implemented at the catering specialist.
In three installations at Dubai International Airport, EKFC produces 225,000 hot meals every day. Among the greatest challenges they face is delivering the meals just-in-time for a plane’s departure. Since 2005 Unitechnik has been providing EKFC with the technology to load up the narrow roll containers (carts) with meals, beverages, duty-free articles and everything else needed on a flight. The roll containers are transported along a 2.5km long network by means of an electric monorail system (EMS). As they travel through the facility, they are unloaded, cleaned, and individually filled at many different stations. The automatic system stages up to 40 carts per plane just-in-time. Also in use are automatic guided vehicles (AGV) that deliver the required goods to the workstations.
The flow of goods in the facilities is managed by the warehouse management software UniWare. Thanks to integrated facility visualisation, personnel in the control room and maintenance staff are always able to keep track of the status of the installation and the locations of the individual carts. With regional service support provided by Unitechnik FZE, Unitechnik’s subsidiary in Dubai, stable 24/7 operation is guaranteed.
As part of the introduction to the Logistics Day, Michael Huhn, sales director CSO of Unitechnik Systems, took the example of the Dubai metro system to illustrate the advantages of an automated system. “In selecting this means of transport, Dubai has decided on a fully automatic metro and connects important transfer points in a short time safely, rapidly, on time, without error and with no congestion. The approach in intralogistics is similar: EMS (electric monorail systems) and AGV (automated guided vehicles) are systems capable of providing a flexible, fast and safe link between important production and warehouse locations.”
Arun Tewari, chief information officer (CIO) at EKFC, gave visiting logistics experts an overview of the tasks and challenges EKFC faces. These include, among other things, the ability to react flexibly to flight delays, like those caused by fog or sandstorms. Another factor to consider is also that carts that leave the building loaded with food must be loaded promptly onto an aircraft. Otherwise, their contents must be destroyed in compliance with strict hygiene requirements.
Hans-Joachim Finger, CEO at Hubtex, in wrapping up the event, reported on how the digitisation strategy of the special vehicle manufacturer fits in with the concept. The trend is definitely towards automation even in the handling of heavy or bulky goods. Based on their standard products, Hubtex gives users everything they need, even including AGV, to gradually automate their handling processes.