Unitechnik cargo plant in UNO relief operation against Covid-19

High corona case numbers in Africa combined with a slump in passenger business: Due to the pandemic, the state-owned airline Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) is facing major challenges. Thanks to state-of-the-art equipment at the cargo logistic center newly built by Unitechnik, the company has been able to adapt at least part of its business model to the new situation: The air cargo facility in Addis Ababa serves as a hub for the humanitarian flights of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

There are currently many indications that the pandemic is gradually taking over the African continent - the 54 African countries have recently recorded 1,128,061 confirmed infections across the continent (latest information form August 17th).
In order to support African countries in the fight against Covid-19, the UN set up a central logistics centre for the transport of relief supplies. In early spring the choice fell on the air freight terminal recently realised by Unitechnik Systems in cooperation with AMOVA in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. With 38,000 m², the state-of-the-art automatic warehouse is as large as five football pitches and is divided into refrigeration and a dry storage zone. The facility can handle 600,000 tons of air freight annually.

Cooling area protects medicines

In the month of March alone, Ethiopia transported a total of over 45,848 tons of cargo to various parts of the world with its cargo planes and passenger fleet. The shipments include medicines, medical supplies, and health products, which were handled by 86 charter flights in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. EAL's freighter fleet consists of 12 modern cargo aircrafts, mainly Boeing 777Fs, each with a capacity of 103 tons. Even some of the 110 passenger aircrafts have been converted by Africa's largest airline to allow more aid deliveries.

Transport and storage at constant temperatures are an important prerequisite, especially for medicines. With its large refrigerated area, EAL in Addis Ababa has created sufficient capacity for handling temperature-sensitive goods. The airline usually exports especially cut flowers and meat from Addis Ababa. The future-proof facility is designed in line with international standards and ensures an uninterrupted cold chain for perishable goods. A significant advantage if it comes to storage and handling of medically necessary equipment in accordance with European standards.

UniWare handles warehouse processes for relief goods

A WFP team of 25 aviation and logistics staff is on standby in Addis Ababa and manages the 24-hour operation. It manages warehouses for relief supplies, including temperature-controlled freight, and manages their handling. The basis for the professional tracking of aid supplies is the Warehouse Management System (WMS) integrated into the automated warehouse. The computer system, based on the software platform UniWare, from Unitechnik, manages the inventory and coordinates the automatic and manual movements. This way the staff always has an overview of incoming and outgoing aid supplies and medicines. Especially in view of the high number of cases in Africa and the rapid spread of the pandemic, an exact overview of the stock is essential. The cargo hub in Addis Ababa will certainly continue to play an important role in the near future.