The world’s first manufacturer-owned Air Cargo Safety Research Center (ARC) has been opened by Satco in Miami Township, Ohio.

The $10m facility places an emphasis on optimising the manufacturing process and safety of unit load devices (ULDs), ultimately increasing the safety of air cargo transportation.

“The ARC ensures we are manufacturing the safest ULDs on the market,” said Mike Proctor, president and CEO of Satco. “This new facility houses state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and increases our testing capabilities, providing the space we need to continue pushing innovation to move the industry forward.”

With the increase of products using lithium-ion batteries, the risk of fire in air cargo has become more prominent. A focus point of the Satco ARC facility is the fire safety test facility or burn lab, one of only a handful of testing facilities in the US. The facility is monitored by 12 thermal imaging and HD video cameras and multiple sensors to understand how a ULD is impacted by a fire. The tests run for a minimum of six hours and temperatures can reach more than 1400°F. The facility also houses a component testing area where ULD parts can be examined for fire resistance and safety.

“This facility gives us even more control over the safety of our products,” said Michael Howell, senior VP of Operations and Maintenance Services at Satco. “We are able to run tests whenever we need to and can quickly evaluate our products and get them to market faster.”

The ARC facility’s location was chosen for its proximity to a number of airports known for cargo distribution from some of the world’s largest companies. It brings 120 jobs to the region, including engineers, IT specialists and software developers.