Using asset visibility technology to improve airport ground operations

Ittay Hayut is the co-founder and CEO of hoopo, a provider of low-power, wide-area (LPWA) monitoring and tracking solutions; he tells Airside of four ways in which such technology can assist with airport ground operations.

Airport ground operations logistics involves enormously complex processes, with thousands of motorised and non-motorised assets performing functions across a wide area, Hayut notes. Adding GSE (ground service equipment) tracking for continuous visibility and wireless connectivity to this dense mesh of resources allows more efficient utilisation, to the betterment of passengers, staff and the bottom line.

This crucial technology brings ground handlers, airports and airlines significant benefits, he continues. The four most important benefits are as follows:

1. Real-time location tracking

GSE tracking gives airport operations personnel immediate access to the location, whether indoors or outdoors, of every piece of relevant ground operations equipment equipped with the technology.

Operations will know where a piece of equipment is, whether it’s stationary or in motion, and whether it’s allowed to be where it is. Real-time alerts can instantly notify stakeholders should any asset leave its normal operating area or arrive at an agent’s premises. This geo-fencing capability also helps prevent loss and unauthorised equipment misplacement.

Prior to GSE tracking technology, locating equipment often required phone or walkie-talkie contact with multiple parties, and occasionally a manual sweep of the airport grounds. This delayed important services, causing unnecessary back-ups and creating unhappy customers. Real-time tracking eliminates these barriers, Hayut notes.

2. On-demand GSE retrieval

Real-time location tracking offers another benefit in that GSE visibility renders all GSE resources available for immediate retrieval. If a particular piece of equipment is in use, that status is instantly evident to operations managers.

They can see, in real time, what equipment is being utilised and what equipment is idle. Idle equipment can be retrieved by relevant personnel with very little input from other staff members.

On-demand access to idle equipment allows for more efficient use of ground operations resources.

As an example, if operations managers know that a peak hour is approaching, the tracking platform can alert on all GSE out of relevant parking areas to allow quick repositioning of assets, thereby leading to greatly improved fleet management.

3. Forecast disruptions in operating processes

GSE tracking technology allows managers to analyse equipment behaviour patterns across all daily operations. This can reveal hidden bottlenecks that are leading to inefficiencies and wasted money.

It can also help forecast disruptions by granting visibility into the behaviour patterns that can lead to snowballing system failures.

These insights can help management avoid operational breakdowns in real time by identifying problematic situations before they can spiral out of control. Solutions will also be more evident and easier to implement.

4. Manage annual maintenance and procurement activities

GSE tracking reduces ground-time incidents and allows enhanced, proactive control over the condition and utilisation of all ground service equipment.

Operations personnel will have real-time information on hours logged and distances traveled in relation to the entire fleet. This can be matched against the actual utilisation of assets to allow easy tracking and retrieval for regular maintenance in due time.

As an added benefit, the efficiencies gained using GSE tracking technologies will extend the life of the fleet and increase the time between needed support repairs to lower maintenance costs. Lastly, analysing the utilisation of assets will allow managers to make data-driven procurement decisions and ‘right-sizing’ their fleet at every airport.

In short, Hayut considers, this sort of GSE technology yields cost savings and enables enhanced operations. All the enhancements and optimisations offered by GSE tracking solutions aim to generate accessible data to help ground handlers create a safer and more efficient environment. Assets will be able to accomplish more in the same amount of time, increasing operational efficiency.

Airports and airlines will enjoy better on-time performance and improvement in services. All of these mean more profitable operations and happier customers, he concludes.