Emirates Group’s airport services unit Dnata will be using drones inside some of its warehouse facilities to handle inventory and monitoring of shipments. 

The company said on Monday it has partnered with Gather AI, a US-based technology start-up, and launched the use of drones and computer vision in its warehouses at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in the United States.  

The American firm’s software enables drones to map the environment, collect inventory data, count cases, measure temperature and read barcodes using only their cameras, without the need for an additional infrastructure. 

The drones, which can operate at temperatures as low as -10 degree Celsius, are paired to a tablet device providing live inventory data. Any data collected can be viewed directly on the tablet or the web, via an application. 

With the investment, Dnata said it seeks to digitise acceptance and warehouse inventory processes by monitoring shipments with 99.8 percent accuracy. 

“The drones capture pictures, 360 pictures, videos as well, of all the goods that we can access instantly after each flight,” said Guillaume Crozier, Dnata’s divisional vice president for operations, in a video shared by the airport services firm.

"The warehouse inventory process is quite manual so far within our industry. Gather AI allows us to get data and also to analyse the data we are collecting. Our acceptance staff in the office can launch the flights and the drone is flying autonomously. That is possible because at the backend, we have digitalised the warehouse map and we've created the digital warehouse which actually helps us to make the flights entirely autonomous," he added.

Dnata provides ground handling, cargo and catering services at more than 120 airports in 19 countries.

Drones are increasingly being used by companies who want to improve operations in a cost-effective manner.

According to supply chain specialist Argon Consulting, drones can be used to take over labour-intensive warehouse tasks, such as inventory audit, cycle counting, item search and stock taking.

"In these physical inventory count methods, a person walks or drives to a designated location in the warehouse, scans the barcode of the item and moves on to the next location following their schedule. This counting method is slow, labour-intensive, expensive, repetitive and dangerous, as people must work at heights. Drones can add value to optimise this processe," the firm said on its website.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Mily Chakrabarty) 


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