By Daniel Hunter
An innovative new lightweight tamper-proof galley cart for catering and duty free use on aircraft - which is creating huge interest from the airline industry - is to be made in Wales for global distribution.
Wales will be the only country in Europe to manufacture these carts as the majority are currently made in China and Singapore.
The project is backed by a total of £316,000 from the Welsh Government which will create 34 new jobs and safeguard a further 54 jobs.
It follows a partnership between Flightweight and Applied Component Technology (ACT). Flightweight, which owns the IP and tooling, will handle marketing and sales and will co-locate on Wrexham Industrial Estate alongside ACT which will manufacture the carts.
SmartCart has been described as the greatest security breakthrough in 20 years and the company was overwhelmed with interest when it was demonstrated at Hamburg air show this year where it won the award for most innovative new product in the Onboard Hospitality category.
Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “The advanced materials and manufacturing sector is a priority sector of the Welsh economy and the new SmartCart embodies both these elements. I am delighted the Welsh Government is supporting this highly innovative project and that ACT and Flightweight are the latest companies to join the rapidly growing aerospace hub in Wales which includes many world leading businesses.”
Issues of weight reduction and security are two major issues for airline companies and the SmartCart ticks both boxes.
Flightweight chairman Malcolm Mathieson said: “Our state-of-the-art carts are made from a new lightweight composite material and weigh up to 5kg less than the typical airline trolley which weighs approximately 15kgs. Through significant weight savings, it is estimated that Airlines across the globe can save up to several hundred thousand pounds in reduced fuel costs.
“The modular design of the carts will enable flat pack air freight to customers around the world again saving on transportation costs while the innovative locking mechanism can identify and track them wherever they are in the world thanks to a tamperproof electronic lock that is at present the only accredited lock in the world.”
Every time the trolley is accessed via a secure Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card key it sends Electronic information to the cloud that can be instantly accessed by the airline and identify up to 25,000 users.
Currently once a cart leaves an aircraft at an overseas destination, tracing the location and usage on each trolley is very difficult. Theft by ground crew is an industry problem with annual losses through theft estimated to be in excess of $60m
The estimated annual market for these trolleys is around 420,000 carts based on demand for replacement units — as they have an average lifespan of six years — and new build aircraft.
A recent Airbus study predicts the total number of large passenger aircraft will increase from 25K in 2012 to 36K by 2025 - a long distance airliner alone requires 90 carts to fully service it with 30 on board at anyone time.
Airline service companies are large potential customers as one of the leading caters for 60 individual airlines and controls 200,000 carts worldwide
ACT forecast it will make 43,000 in first full calendar year gaining 10% market share.