Information and technology company Unisys has bolstered its Digistics suite of logistics solutions with Digi-pet, a system of sensors and applications to track the comfort of animals during air transit.
Digi-pet connects animals in aircraft cargo holds to their owners via a mobile app, with automated alerts, live video streaming, and even voice chat. The aim is to make journeys less of an ordeal for both frightened animals and their worried owners.
The system doesn’t just cater for domestic animals. It can also be used to ensure the safe and comfortable transport of horses, livestock, and more – any journey in which consistent levels of heat, light, and oxygen are needed for vulnerable creatures.
The Unisys announcement is certainly timely, because the challenge of transporting animals safely by air has hit the news headlines recently.
In March, United Airlines suspended its PetSafe service after the death of a dog who was forced to travel in an overhead luggage bin, and the emergence of other serious problems over pets’ treatment. The airline – which is responsible for 27 percent of all pet transport by air in the US – is conducting a review into how to improve its service.
According to the US Department of Transportation, over half a million animals were flown by air within the US last year. Twenty-four of them died during the journey – 18 on United alone – while 15 were injured, and one was lost. By contrast, there were reportedly zero deaths of human passengers on commercial airliners last year.
Visibility and communication
With animal deaths or mistreatment in the mainstream news, the main reason that people may wish to stay connected to their pets in transit is peace of mind. The other reason is the animals’ well-being and safety, especially on long-haul flights.
“We are emotionally attached to our pets and it can be distressing to be separated from them when traveling by air,” said Venkatesh Pazhyanur, senior industry director of Freight Solutions for Unisys.
“Large pets – whether accompanied or not – must travel in the cargo hold. Unisys Digi-Pet uses IoT sensors to provide pet owners with full visibility of their pet’s comfort and the environmental conditions, as well as enabling them to talk to their pets – calming both pet and owner.”
“Unisys Digi-Pet uses innovative IoT technology to enable air carriers to offer niche pet travel services, allowing them to enter and capture a high-yield, growing market while improving customer experience and loyalty, as pet owners don’t need to find specialised pet or other transport modes for their needs,” said Pazhyanur.
That “high-yield, growing market” now includes Pet Airways, a dedicated US airline that puts animals in the cabin, not in the hold.
Hitting the suite spot
Digi-Pet is the latest element of Unisys’ Digistics suite, a series of logistics tools designed for air cargo applications. The solutions’ aim is to streamline freight operations and improve efficiencies.
Customers can pick and choose from a selection of logistics options, ranging from inventory management and accounting tools to IoT technology for animal transportation.
Twenty global carriers currently subscribe to Unisys Digistics Transport, totalling over 180,000 animal trips every year.
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Earlier this year, Unisys was recognised for transportation software solutions, winning the International IT Systems Provider of the Year award at the STAT Times International Awards for excellence in air cargo.
Additional reporting: Chris Middleton.