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Unit Load Device Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product Type (LD 3 Container, LD 6 Container, and LD 11 Container, M 1 Container, Pallets, and Others), By Application (Civil Air Transport, Cargo Air Transport, and Others), By Material Type (Composite, Metal, and Others), By Container Type (Normal Container, Cold Container, and Others) and Regional Forecast, 2020-2027

Last Updated: June 03, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI103550



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The global unit load device market size was USD 2.15 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow from USD 1.98 billion in 2020 to USD 3.49 billion in 2032 at a CAGR of 3.80% in the 2020-2032 period.


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The sudden rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with unit load devices witnessing a negative demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the market will exhibit a huge decline in 2020.

A unit load device (ULD) is generally a pallet or a container majorly used to carry load luggage on narrow-body aircraft and wide-body aircraft. The ULD pallets are advanced rugged sheets of aluminum and rims designed to lock the loaded luggage. A container is a metal enclosure majorly used for holding a cargo product used in packaging and shipping. The faster loading and unloading of the cargo products, better protection against weather conditions, and better protection against damage are the main advantages of ULD.

Significant Disruption in Supply Chain Leading to Reduced ULD Deliveries amid COVID-19

According to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) report, in 2019, around 4.2 billion passengers traveled through the air across the globe. However, post-COVID-19, a major disruption in the supply chain has led to declined ULD sales, negatively impacting the market. The aerospace industry across several countries has suffered considerable loss of revenue due to the shutdown of unit load device manufacturing units during November 2019- May 2020.  According to a Bloomberg report, in 2020, the U.S. aerospace industry lost around USD 195 billion market value.

The market in North America and Europe is projected to experience the highest impact due to the slowdown in the supply chain management of ULD manufacturers. The companies located in Europe such as Dokasch GmbH, Envirotainer AB, and Nordisk Aviation Products AS, have decided to postpone the operational activities of ULD by following the government regulations during the national lockdown. This has significantly delayed the deliveries of ULD. However, several companies such as Cargo Composites, CSafe Global, and ACL AIRSHOP have restarted their operational activity from August 2020 to provide better ULD solutions across the globe.


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Introduction of Internet of things (IoT) to Propel Market Growth

The internet of things (IoT) technology is providing an agile infrastructure that will enable cargo companies to accelerate the speed of cargo loading and unloading operations. The implementation of IoT provides an ecosystem where commercial airlines, crew workers, and customs officers can work with greater efficiencies. The integration of unit load devices with IoT technology has led to the efficient working of baggage & cargo systems. Furthermore, locating baggage & cargo assigned to ULD and providing a centralized ULD distribution through a GSM/ Wi-Fi connectivity has led to the growing adoption of this advanced technology.

The introduction of the internet of things (IoT) with ULD technology in the aviation industry is increasing the operational efficiency of cargo transport services with reduced overheads that will favor the market growth.


Increasing Demand for Lightweight Product for Cargo Operations to Aid Growth

A lightweight ULD is widely used across the aviation industry to provide the lowest tare weight and highest strength-to-weight performance compared to conventional ULD. The lightweight ULD is designed from the polymer composite with higher strength. For instance, Nordisk manufactures lightweight ULD combined with high-quality materials. The ULD designed by the company aids in the reduction of over 25% weight of the container and further increases the efficiency of cargo operations leading to the high demand for lightweight unit load devices.

Another company, Zodiac Aerospace, develops several ranges of lower-deck ULD for commercial airlines. This is majorly used in commercial aircraft such as Boeing 747, Boeing 767, and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The increasing adoption of lightweight ULD in the aviation industry propels the global unit load device market growth.

Increasing Adoption of Cold Containers to Fuel Market Growth

Technologically advanced cold containers are used to transport temperature-sensitive goods such as perishable food, medicines, drugs, blood plasma, and vaccines. The growing use of cold containers to transport temperature-sensitive goods is anticipated to boost the market. The market growth is further attributed to the surging demand for PPE KITS and medicines owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to in-house research by VRR, cold chain logistics accounted for more than 25% of the healthcare industry in 2019. The increasing environmental regulations and the necessity for technologically advanced temperature-sensitive logistic services are likely to boost the market growth.


High Maintenance Cost of ULD to Restrain Growth

The high cost of up-gradation & maintenance associated with replacing the conventional ULD is hindering the market growth. The high maintenance cost is related to maintaining regular inspection of ULD operations to ensure optimum usability. The high maintenance, repair, and overhaul cost of these device is restricting the market growth.


By Product Type Analysis

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Increasing Use of LD 3 Container in Commercial Aircraft to Augment Growth

Based on product type, the market includes LD 3 container, LD 6 container, and LD 11 container, M 1 Container, pallets, and others.

The LD 3 container segment held a dominant share of the market in 2019. This is attributed to the increasing demand for LD 3 containers to carry loaded luggage, cargo, and goods on commercial aircraft such as Boeing 747 and Boeing 767. The LD 3 container is a half-width lower deck container and can efficiently carry a tare weight of 82 kg to a maximum gross weight of up to 1,588 KG.

The LD 6 container consists of built-in door straps and can carry a tare weight of 230 kg to a maximum gross weight of up to 3,175 kg. The growth is due to the high adoption of LD 6 containers on the lower cargo deck of a wide range of aircraft.

The LD 11 container is a full-width lower hold container and can carry a tare weight of 185 kg to a maximum gross weight of up to 3,176 kg.

The M1 container is the main-deck container and can carry a tare weight of 350 kg. Additionally, it can carry a maximum gross weight of up to 6,804 KG.

The pallet is contoured for a lower hold and main deck container and carries a weight of 91 kg. The pallet can carry a maximum gross weight up to 3,175 KG.

The other segment consists of other containers such as LD 4 container, LD7 container, and LD 26 container.

By Application Analysis

Cargo Air Transport Segment is Anticipated to Boost Market Growth

Based on the application, the market is classified as civil air transport, cargo air transport, and others.

The civil air transport segment is expected to hold the largest share of the market during the forecast period. This growth is due to the increasing demand for unit load devices to load minimal luggage of passengers into the commercial aircraft.

The cargo air transport segment is projected to register a higher CAGR during the forecast period. In cargo air transport, the aircraft is designed to transport medicine, goods, air-mail parcels, etc. The increasing use of a cold container to transport packed foods, medicines, and vaccines during the pandemic era is likely to lead to segment growth.

The other segment consists of the use of ULD from the automotive industry for the loading operations of heavy vehicles and the defense industry to transport heavy instruments.

By Material Type Analysis

Increasing Adoption of Composite Materials to Improve High Strength-to-Weight Ratio to Propel Growth

Based on material type, the market is segmented into composite, metal, and others.

The composite segment is anticipated to showcase a significant CAGR during the forecast period. This is owing to the growing adoption of composites in the ULD to improve the high strength-to-weight ratio of containers. The composite material is classified as polystrand material and glasforms material. The polystrand material consists of fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites that are durable and easy to repair type material. The glasforms material is used to improve the strength-to-weight ratio of the container. They are thermally insulated composite materials with hybrid interior panel structures.

The metal segment is likely to experience considerable growth in the forthcoming years. This growth is attributed to the increasing adoption of aluminum metal from the ULD manufacturers to design non-corrosive containers. A metal container is designed with aluminum metal due to its non-magnetic nature, non-sparking nature, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. The main structure is designed with the help of aluminum sheets. The sidewalls of the container are designed with composite material such as lexan.

The other segment consists of staple fiber, filament yarn, and jet-spun material adopted to design a lightweight container.

By Container Type Analysis

Cold Container Segment to Register a High CAGR

In terms of container type, the market is segmented into a normal container, cold container, and others.

The normal container segment is expected to have a dominant share in the market during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to the increasing use of a normal container to transport general dry commodities such as packed foods, grains, printed papers, metals, and agricultural products. Normal containers are used to transport dry cargo globally.  

The cold container segment is projected to register a higher CAGR during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to the increasing use of cold containers from the healthcare industry to transport corona vaccines through cargo air transport. Additionally, cold containers are majorly used to transport temperature-sensitive cargo such as chemicals, medicines, and packed seafoods.

The other segment consists of open-top containers, tunnel containers, half-height containers, and intermediate bulk shift containers. The growth of the segment is attributed to the increasing use of tunnel containers and half-height containers in the shipping industry to transport commercial goods & parcels.


North America Unit Load Device Market Size, 2019 (USD Billion)

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North America stood at USD 0.84 billion in 2019. This market in North America is projected to dominate during the forecast period. This growth is owing to the presence of key players in the U.S. such as ACL AIRSHOP, Cargo Composites, and Satco, Inc., among others. The increasing procurement of ULD and related technologies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is further expected to contribute to the market growth of North America.

The market in Europe is projected to showcase significant growth during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to the increase in demand for cold containers from the e-commerce and healthcare industry in countries such as the U.K, France, and Germany. The aviation industry in the U.K. is adopting an advanced temperature management solution of cold containers for storage applications. Furthermore, the high demand for lightweight containers from France is likely to propel the market growth.

Asia Pacific is expected to register significant growth during the forecast period. This growth is attributed to the increasing demand for unit load devices from emerging economies such as China and India for air cargo operation. The rising air transport industry in countries such as China and India has led to the increasing adoption of these devices in Asia-Pacific.

The market in Rest of the World is anticipated to exhibit significant growth due to the increasing adoption of IoT technology in the ULD from Latin America and the Middle East and Africa.


Key Players Majorly Focus on Business Expansion by Signing Contracts and Introducing New Products

The ULD industry is fragmented by the presence of dominant players holding significant market shares. The strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, product launches, and collaborations formed by the key companies to maintain their presence will favor the market dynamics in the forthcoming years. In August 2019, OnAsset Intelligence, Inc. and Unilode Aviation Solutions signed a contract to provide ULD management, maintenance, and repair services. In August 2020, ACL Airshop and Sonoco ThermoSafe signed a contract to handle and repair bulk ULD temperature-controlled containers of Sonoco ThermoSafe.


  • ACL AIRSHOP (The U.S.)

  • Brambles Group (Australia)

  • Cargo Composites (The U.S.)

  • CSafe Global (The U.S.)

  • Dokasch GmbH (Germany)

  • Envirotainer AB  (Sweden)

  • Nordisk Aviation Products AS (Norway)

  • Palnet GmbH Air Cargo Products (Germany)

  • Satco, Inc. (The U.S.)

  • TransDigm Group Incorporated (The U.S.)

  • VRR Aviation (The Netherland)

  • Zodiac Aerospace (France)


  • August 2020 – Cargo handler company Dnata launched technologically advanced Bluetooth low energy (BLE) readers to enable tracking cargo transport. BLE readers are used to capture the movement of ULDs. Using this technology, the shipments can track the ULD and sensor-based information such as the movement of the ULD, the temperature of ULD, and the humidity of the container.

  • May 2020 – UNILODE Aviation Solutions (UAS) and Air Canada signed a 7-year contract to provide a cost-saving ULD management solution. UAS, a specialist provider of outsourced ULD, will provide ULD management solutions to digitalize the transportation systems of Air Canada.


An Infographic Representation of Unit load devices Market

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The unit load device market research report provides a structured industry analysis and majorly focuses on key aspects such as leading market players, product type, material type, applications, container type, and industrial presence of ULD and the leading technological trends of the ULD market. Besides this, the report offers highlights of key industry developments. Furthermore, the report provides several factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD Billion)


By Product Type

  • LD 3 Container

  • LD 6 Container

  • LD 11 Container

  • M 1 Container

  • Pallets

  • Others

By Application

  • Civil Air Transport

  • Cargo Air Transport

  • Others

By Material Type

  • Composite

  • Metal

  • Others

By Container Type

  • Normal Container

  • Cold Container

  • Others

By Geography

  • North America (The U.S., Canada, and Mexico)

  • Europe (The U.K., Germany, France, Russia, Italy, and Rest of Europe)

  • Asia-Pacific (China, India, Japan, Australia, and Rest of Asia- Pacific)

  • Rest of the World (Latin America and the Middle East & Africa)


  • North America (By Product Type, By Application, By Material Type, By Container Type, and By Country)

    • The U.S. (By Product Type)

    • Canada (By Product Type)

    • Mexico (By Product Type)

  • Europe (By Product Type, By Application, By Material Type, By Container Type, and By Country)

    • The U.K. (By Product Type)

    • Germany (By Product Type)

    • France (By Product Type)

    • Russia (By Product Type)

    • Italy (By Product Type)

    • Rest of Europe (By Product Type)

  • Asia-Pacific (By Product Type, By Application, By Material Type, By Container Type, and By Country)

    • China (By Product Type)

    • India (By Product Type)

    • Japan (By Product Type)

    • Australia (By Product Type)

    • Rest of Asia- Pacific (By Product Type)

  • Rest of the World (By Product Type, By Application, By Material Type, By Container Type, and By Country)

    • Latin America (By Product Type)

    • The Middle East & Africa (By Product Type)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 2.15 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 2.67 billion by 2027.

In 2019, North America market stood at USD 0.84 billion.

Growing at a CAGR of 4.38%, the market will exhibit steady growth during the forecast period (2020-2027).

The LD 3 container segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

The growing demand for lightweight ULD for cargo operations across the aviation sector is the key factor driving market growth.

ACL AIRSHOP, Cargo Composites, Satco, Inc., TransDigm Group Incorporated, and CSafe Global are major global market players.

North America held the largest market share in 2019.

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