Develop solution for Airline to minimise wastage by tracking and optimising serviceware inventory

The 3rd SIA App Challenge is a coding competition which require participants to build an application that would solve actual airline customer and operational business challenges. Based on theme “Be Part of SIA’s Digital Transformation”, over 80 teams took part in the Open and Student Category to create fresh solutions.

The Brief: Tracking Inventory to Reduce Wastage

Currently, there is no tracking of the actual usage or disposal of high value serviceware (crockery, cutlery, glassware) once they are issued out from airline caterers’ warehouses worldwide, and used on the flights. In ensuring a constant supply of these items, airline need to reduce wastage and optimise utilisation through practical yet sustainable technology. How can airline track such serviceware and optimise our inventory to minimize wastage?

Research and Discovery

The logistics complexity of inflight services is evident. A single, long-haul Boeing 747 has over 40,000 items loaded on to it before it flies. Yet, according to the IATA, airlines produced 5.2 million tons of product and food waste last year - That’s more than the weight of ten thousands of 747 - and will produce over 10 million tons annually by 2030! The total in-flight waste was estimated to be up to 500kg per flight, largely contributed by onboard catering. Unfortunately, limited inventory visibility and accounting has led to inefficient inventory levels and cost escalations. Hence, there’s HUGE opportunities for economy of scale and efficiencies if we can improve and account for the catering logistics.

Idea: Aircounter

“Aircounter” is designed to be the most practical counter for simultaneous inventory tracking. Based on Computer Vision technology, Aircounter is able to wirelessly determine and count what an object is simply by pointing a mobile phone camera at it.

Technologically, Aircounter uses the Tensorflow Object Detection API. Unlike other solution like RFID, our solution does not incur additional cost and time for purchasing and applying electronic tags or sensors, which will contribute to electronic waste. This technology can be applied to a diverse range of objects, including assets that are too small for the use of barcodes. Aircounter allows the user to conduct automatic inspections by confirming the number of articles received with pre-registered information. Images recorded can also be used for auditing shipments. As a result, the logistic efficiency and accountability is improved.