The handling of ULD (Unit Load Device) containers is a key logistical task in the air cargo sector. From truck unloading and storage to the loading of the goods into the aircraft, various transport vehicles are used including Transfer Vehicles (TV), Elevating Transfer Vehicles (ETV), stackers, dolly docks, truck docks and pallet movers. Hubtex and Dimos produce the only vehicle in the world that combines all the functions required for handling and transporting ULDs. The X-Way Mover, which was developed in accordance with IATA standards, already boasts four of the ten largest air cargo companies in the world among its customers, say the companies. The versatile vehicle with a low-emission electric drive has now been even further optimised and launched in two new variants (7 t and 14 t).
Air cargo often consists of time-sensitive goods such as life-saving medicines or perishable goods, e.g. food or plants. The X-Way Mover speeds up the handling of these goods, which are usually stored in ULD containers, because the transport vehicle single-handedly takes on the tasks of the truck dock, transfer vehicle, elevating transfer vehicle, pallet mover and dolly dock. This combined approach results in less downtime or no downtime at all during transport. The X-Way Mover pushes back the system boundaries and is capable of tackling the entire ULD handling process from landside to airside:
1. When the freight truck arrives, the X-Way Mover unloads the ULDs. At peak times two or more X-Way Movers can work as a team, using a vehicle as a truck dock.
2. The X-Way Mover drives directly to the workstation or racking system and transfers the ULDs into the rack. The X-Way Mover is usually able to reach the third storage level (at a height of 7.2 m).
3. When retrieving the ULDs from the workstation or racking system, the X-Way Mover picks up the ULDs and drives them directly onto the runway or loads a dolly train depending on the location of the aircraft.
4. Direct delivery of the ULDs to the aircraft: An X-Way Mover is used as a gangway (stationary), one or more X-Way Movers load the gangway from the logistics hall.
Cooperation creates synergy
The X-Way Mover has been used at airports around the world since the mid-2000s and has now been significantly improved. This further development is thanks to a collaboration agreed between Hubtex and Dimos in 2017. The two international manufacturers of industrial trucks and special vehicles work closely together exclusively in the field of air cargo. “As a result of our collaboration with Hubtex and their expertise in limitless 360° steering, we have created new technological capabilities for this product line to optimise the X-Way Mover”, explains Pascal Schütz who works in Sales and Development at Dimos Maschinenbau GmbH. “The new generation of our vehicle operates with low emissions and is extremely flexible thanks to the all-in-one approach. The X-Way Mover can act as a seamless extension to any kind of terminal or can be used in facilities with varied operating tasks – even in 24/7 operation”.
The new generation of the product range includes the X-Way Mover 140 and the smaller X-Way Mover 70. The X-Way Mover 140 has a maximum load capacity of 14,000 kg and is specially designed to handle 20-ft. ULD containers. The transport vehicle was designed for both indoor and outdoor use and is therefore equipped with soft elastic tyres. The vehicle is 7625 mm in length, 4760 mm in width and 3282 mm in height with a platform width of 2500 mm. The transfer height of the platform can be adjusted to between 200 mm and 7200 mm by means of a new mast system. The smaller X-Way Mover 70 has a maximum load capacity of 6800 kg. Since this vehicle specialises in the handling of 10-ft. ULD containers, the outer dimensions of 4563 x 4600 x 3282 mm are significantly reduced. The platform width remains 2500 mm.
Manoeuvrable and safe
Both X-Way Mover models have two masts for maximum stability. Depending on the area of application, the maximum speed of the vehicles is up to 15 km/h. However, the speed can be increased with the use of a different gear unit. One of the key enhancements of the new X-Way Mover generation is the introduction of the HX steering mechanism. It is now possible to change direction without stopping the vehicle. At the same time, the vehicle can be operated quietly and safely, even in the smallest of spaces. This results in less tyre wear, faster work cycles and easier operation for the driver.
The new, weather-proofed X-Way Mover cabin is very comfortable and boasts a redesigned information terminal, which displays the exact wheel position of the vehicle and much more besides. When transferring the load, the X-Way Mover’s 2500-mm wide roller conveyor is of primary importance. The conveyor is equipped with a robust, electro-hydraulic roller deck, which can be controlled proportionally. On the load transfer sides, the rollers are covered with rubber. The platform hub is powered electrically. Load protection can also be deployed on the load transfer side, with additional load protection in the middle of the platform for small ULDs.
Potential for zero-emission air cargo processes
For the very first time, the new X-Way Mover generation can be fitted with an 80-V electric drive to facilitate zero-emission work processes in airport logistics. Powerful lithium-ion batteries are available for the 80-V drive. These batteries offer fast charging times and are particularly recommended when the X-Way Mover is used across multiple shifts. Users of the X-Way Mover also benefit from the modular design of the transport device. “Customers with fairly simple application scenarios do not need a high-end solution, which is why the X-Way Mover offers an affordable entry-level price. Depending on customer requirements, the vehicle can be upgraded with various expansion packages. The customer is therefore prepared for any future developments”, explains Michael Röbig, Marketing Director of Hubtex Maschinenbau GmbH. “The versatility of the X-Way Mover reduces the downtime and operating costs that accrue in airport logistics as a result of the use of countless floor processing implements. When multiple X-Way Movers are used in parallel, there is no longer a risk of device failures since replacements for each ULD handling step are available on site.”
He adds: “As well as increased flexibility, the X-Way Movers also benefit from our automation strategy. We are gradually equipping the vehicle with new assistance systems that will improve airport logistics processes in the future.”