Automatic storage and retrieval system will prevent theft, misplacement

The expanded cargo complex at Meenambakkam is nearly as big as a football field. The facility, which measures 65,000 square feet, can accommodate a staggering 8,000 tonnes of cargo.

Providing details about upcoming facilities after inspecting the new cargo complex, E.P. Hareendranathan, Executive Director, Cargo and Technical, said a state-of-the-art Automatic Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) is being installed in the complex. The ASRS was imported from Portugal at a cost of Rs 40 crore. The main advantage of this facility is that the import cargo can be stored in vertical manner at a height of 16.5 metres.

There is no human intervention thus eliminating unsafe handling practices, misplacement of cargo, theft and pilferage.

Mr Hareendranathan said work on synchronising the cargo software and ASRS software will begin soon. Once that is completed, the AAI will start a trial operation of the ASRS towards the middle of next month. Once the trial runs are completed, the new facility will become operational.

Until now, the cargo could not be stored as will be possible with the ASRS due to limitations in the manual vertical storing

Mr Hareendranathan said once the import cargo is received from the airlines, it will be stored in the ASRS bin, which has a capacity of 1.5 tonnes. The bins are then stored in the specified locations through automated cranes. Similarly, retrieval will be faster as each bin will have bar-coded label.

Other important features are the security and safe handling of cargo.

The ASRS has already been installed in the cargo complex at Kolkata airport, which can handle 1,000 tonnes of cargo.

Mr Hareendranathan said the work on the expansion of cargo complex began nearly two years ago and will be completed by January. The expansion work has been taken up at a cost of Rs 145 crore, which is part of airport expansion project.

With the introduction of ASRS, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is expecting an increase in the number of cargo freighters landing in Chennai. Thus, there will be a demand for parking bays for the cargo freighters.

The AAI will soon start assessment for parking bays near the cargo complex to facilitate the freighters, Mr Hareendranathan added.

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