Smart glasses and 5G make cargo handling more efficient, error-free and safer


Cargo handlers are responsible for loading and unloading air cargo and for the follow-up of all ground handling operations. Often they still use paper. 5G and Assisted Reality make their work safer, faster and more accurate.

Cargo handlers, also known as ramp agents, are responsible for loading and unloading airplanes. Basic job requirement: they always work against the clock. After all, the longer a plane is on the ground, the more money it costs. Their safety is another priority, in all weather conditions.

The handling of air cargo still involves a lot of paperwork. When the ramp agents start their working day, they are given a printout with cargo they have to handle. Then they go in search of the right dollies to place the pallets on. “Locating the right dolly can take longer than desirable, resulting in a lot of wasted time”, says Olivier Nerinckx, Product Manager Device Industry 4.0 at Orange Belgium. “What’s more, working with paper is prone to error, with all the risks that involves. When a pallet is loaded onto the wrong plane, valuable time and money is lost. Working with assisted reality glasses combined with digital work instructions and 5G is the ideal combination in this story.”

Handsfree working during loading and unloading with smart glasses

By equipping cargo handlers with smart glasses, their paperwork can be replaced by a digital and handsfree process. The cargo handler places the right pallet onto the right dolly and associates them by scanning the QR codes with the smart glasses. Once the pallet is on the plane, he terminates that association in the same way.

At the moment of association and disassociation the cargo handler makes a picture with his smart glasses, registering the time and the GPS coordinates. These photos are stored centrally so the exact data can be retrieved later. This form of Assisted Reality yields time saving, eliminates quite a few mistakes and also boosts employee safety.

If a pallet is damaged then the cargo handler can use the smart glasses to start a video conversation with the back office. “An operator can then assess the situation by looking through the cargo handler’s glasses”, Olivier Nerinckx explains. The operator in the back office takes a picture of the damage, which is added to the file. Then the cargo handler can continue with the association or disassociation, or interrupt the process.

Benefits of 5G

In a complex airport environment, establishing reliable connectivity can be a challenge. The cargo handlers work both indoors and outdoors and their work environment changes constantly with planes, containers and dollies that are on the move. “Good connectivity is crucial here, and 5G is perfect for such an environment”, Olivier Nerinckx emphasises.

Moreover, 5G network slicing guarantees network availability for the cargo handlers so they always have access to the info they need regarding the associations and the locations of the dollies. The high bandwidth and low latency of a 5G stand-alone network are also crucial to unlocking the full potential of Assisted Reality in such environment.


Do you also want to discover how your company can work safer, more efficiently and with fewer errors? Then explore the possibilities of 5G.

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