Driving a more predictable airport operation through real-time asset data

What is your experience?

It goes without saying that the airport operation is a complex beast, comprising many different cogs all trying to move in the same direction and work in unison with one another. It is a balancing act, where multiple different stakeholders are focused on delivering a consistent service to passengers and airlines.

There are so many different components which need to come together to ensure aircraft turn around on time and passengers are moved throughout the terminal smoothly. Many things can happen, often seemingly outside your control!

For example, a major breakdown of an aerobridge, baggage system, HVAC system, elevators, lifts, or even something as simple as a security door, can have a massive impact. It is also fair to say that up until recently there has been no real method of confidently preventing or predicting breakdowns of key physical infrastructure.

For some time now, airport operators have leveraged real-time data to help provide situational awareness across a number of areas. From passenger flow measurement technologies, flight tracking information, passenger demand forecasting, pre-departure sequencing, ACDM and so on.

However as an operation which is so reliant upon its infrastructure, wouldn’t it be great if real time data on the condition of key assets could be harnessed more effectively? A broken baggage or HVAC system can be a major headache for a COO and there have been similar recent examples at major airports in the UK and Australia recently. In both cases there was a significant impact to the passenger – the broken baggage system caused widespread chaos whilst the HVAC system failure on one of the city’s hottest summer days in Australia created serious HSE implications for passengers young and old.

Needless to say both examples would have cost the operator a substantial amount of lost revenue and severely dented the reputation of the airport. But could they have been prevented by knowing about a potential failure before it happens?

Up until now it is understandable why airports have been unable to do this, as the technology didn’t exist! It is only really at the early stages of being looked at in earnest, let alone implemented. There are a few who have invested but adoption is still in its infancy.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is helping to deliver deeper insights into an organisations assets and when paired with the capabilities of cognitive computing, it is providing a near complete picture of the physical world. In an airports case, the physical world means aerobridges, baggage handling systems, vehicles, HVAC, doors, escalators, elevators etc. … all of which are relied upon to ensure a smooth operation.

Interested to hear from those who might already be working with IoT and using real-time data to monitor the health of key assets within the airport environment. What is your experience?

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