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Nordisk 50 years – leading the industry

Nordisk 50 years – leading the industry

50 years and 800,000 ULDs later! Since the first Nordisk Pallet was certified in 1972, Nordisk has made revolutionary breakthroughs in ULD technology and changed the face of the market with regard to weight and strength ratio. Read how we did it here:

Leading the industry

Nordisk began its journey in the air cargo industry with the production of air cargo pallets. As Jan Christiansen, technical manager and head of product development from 1970 to 2004 remembers “Our competitors offered sandwich pallets with an end-grain balsa core, a popular product, but the balsa was like a sponge and water made it swell and collapse. To counteract this problem, Nordisk introduced a core made of a closed cell, expanded PVC, called Divinycell. The first Nordisk pallet was certified in 1972 and Nordisk began to build a name as industry innovator. 

Lighter and stronger

With roots in the aluminium industry, Nordisk metallurgists, in cooperation with Det Norske Veritas and Oslo Materialprøveanstallt, developed a weldable alloy in the AA7000 series, which was not only stronger and more durable than other alloys used in the ULD market, but also maintained 75% of its original strength after welding. In 1973, Nordisk developed its first all-aluminium pallets. When combined with Nordisk’s “hollow-edge” technology in 1975, Nordisk ULDs and pallets changed the face of the market with regard to weight and strength, a race Nordisk has led ever since. 

In 1974, Nordisk’s first lower deck container, the AKE (LD3) was approved. “In fact, the first AKE (LD3) prototype weighed 135kg (298 lbs), which today sounds very heavy, but it was actually considerably lighter than the typical AKE at the time. Airline customers were afraid the container was too light and flimsy, and asked the Nordisk design team to redesign it,” Christiansen smiles. “Hence, the final container weighed in at 147kg (324 lbs).” 

Cutting edge technology

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the combi aircraft became popular and cargo began moving from lower to main decks. New containers were designed, and our first upper deck container was certified in 1978. Then in 1983, Nordisk introduced the world’s first full-width lower-deck container in close cooperation with British Airways. The AAU (LD29) and AAF (LD26) increased usable lower-deck volumes, whilst maximizing air freight capacity and utilization. Yet another industry breakthrough was made in 1998, when Nordisk introduced its first multi-contour container with tubular extrusions. The Nordisk LAY (AAC) fit both wide and narrow-bodied aircraft and meant that cargo could be quickly moved between several types of aircraft without reloading. 

Quality and innovation

When asked the reason for Nordisk’s success, Christiansen doesn’t hesitate. “We focused on quality from day one. We had a clear advantage with extensive experience and unparalleled expertise in aluminium, combined with highly qualified QA, production and sales staff.  We also had considerable technical expertise and focused on innovation, with industry breakthroughs such as hollow-edge technology, the world’s first full width lower deck container (AAU LD29) and tubular extrusions, establishing Nordisk as a clear market leader. But we were also very good at listening to customers,” Christiansen continues. “We worked closely with customers to develop solutions to their needs, which led to a clear understanding of the market and very close ties with customers.” 

One such case was in 1984 when Nordisk replaced Pan Americans 4,000 old LD3s with new Nordisk units and had a contract to maintain these globally, for a fixed cost per container per day for 5 years. The Company already had a service station in Copenhagen, but over this period Nordisk opened ULD centers in various cities across the globe, including New York, Hong Kong and London, ensuring Pan American, and a great many more customers, had easy access to quality repair and maintenance wherever they needed it.

Setting the standard

Right from the start, Nordisk set the standard for manufacturing quality. A unique cost/weight/strength ratio enabled by the super strong alloy series AA7000, continual product technology developments, standard spare parts readily available from ULD Service Centers across the globe, combined with a strict cradle-to-grave philosophy has meant maximum serviceability and lowest lifetime cost for Nordisk’s global customers. By the mid 1990s, Nordisk was at the forefront of the design, development and manufacturing of ULDS and had delivered over 50,000 containers and over 200,000 ULDs to its clients worldwide.

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