KLM & DesignLab collaborate on responsibly designing cargo

Two weeks ago, DesignLab’s ‘Dream Team’ students finalised a challenge with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ Radical Innovation Team to devise a more efficient and, in result, more sustainable cargo process. In this 5-month project, the students co-designed an algorithm prototype that allows for real-time insights in the cargo process, as to optimise the loading capacity of aircraft.

Innovation in cargo

The desire for a more responsible design of the cargo process is fueled by impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on worldwide air traffic. 80% of KLM’s total cargo is transported in combined passenger-cargo flights. But passenger traffic has decreased heavily due to the pandemic. This calls for smart, sustainable and responsible solutions.

Responsible Design

This challenge contributes to a set of Sustainable Development Goals that Air France KLM Martinair Cargo is working on.

Miriam Iliohan, Co-founder and manager DesignLab UTwente
“We are very excited that we've started the collaboration with KLM. Combining behavioural insights, scientific knowledge and expertise, we can make a lasting impact on society when it comes to responsibly designing the future.”
Miriam Iliohan, Co-founder and manager DesignLab UTwente

Transdisciplinary teamwork

The DreamTeam, a group of talented and committed students representing different disciplines at the University of Twente, worked in a transdisciplinary way, which is characteristic to DesignLab. Transdisciplinary working is a way to address societal issues that are highly contested, when stakes are high and where we need to co-create by using a fresh perspective and creativity. DesignLab does this by generating new knowledge out of the merging of disciplines and experiences. This expands on existing scientific evidence and leads to innovative, holistic solutions.

As DesignLab’s innovation challenges are always guided by researchers, aviation expert and UT researcher Dr. Hans Heerkens advised the students in this particular challenge.

Walking this road together

To celebrate the first collaboration between DesignLab and KLM, each milestone of this project has been put into a 'living' picture and audio book. In this book, every chapter translates a milestone of the project into visuals. Engage in our story by scanning the QR code of each chapter and listen to spoken words of Arlette van der Veer (project manager KLM Radical Innovation), Emiel Harmsen (teamleader student team, DesignLab) and Miriam Iliohan (co-founder and manager DesignLab). You can also visit our Soundcloud page to listen to the whole story at once.

Listen to the first chapter (other chapters can be found on SoundCloud):

Intro - Walking this road together.
Picture and audio book

Next steps

The challenge is the first project that KLM and DesignLab are collaborating on. Parallel to this challenge, DesignLab and KLM are co-designing the next steps towards a sustainable future by sharing the latest developments within that field and using the DesignLab methodology. Essential to this approach is including all stakeholders in the innovation process. To ensure a broad perspective on the subject of cargo, also the customer point of view is taken into account. DesignLab brings in the expertise from the research programme on Responsible Design at the University of Twente.

More information

For more information about the Responsible Cargo challenge, please contact Maya van den Berg, Programme Manager DesignLab. If you wish to explore the possibilities of collaboration on innovation, contact co-founder and manager DesignLab, Miriam Iliohan.