While technology-based solutions are helping every industry streamline and enhance productivity, nowhere is the value more apparent than in the aviation industry.
Airport managers, military base commanders and their personnel struggle daily with the high cost of fuel and the weighty responsibility of choreographing a multitude of activities involving Air-Ground Equipment and Ground Support Equipment (AGE/GSE). They have a finite population of aircraft and ground-based assets to keep the operation running, and a limited number of personnel qualified or authorized to operate the equipment.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that dispatch is usually carried out sight-unseen because facilities are enormous. Dispatchers don’t know the exact whereabouts of equipment, whether it’s in or out of service or which one is closest to call upon. Traditional radio communication and manual tracking boards are awkward and impossible to keep truly updated.
And the costs of inefficiency can be tremendous:
Inadequate equipment availability puts SLAs at risk.
Inconsistent scheduling drives up maintenance costs.
Inefficient equipment dispatch wastes time and fuel.
Delays cost money – about $500 per minute for a commercial airliner.
Fleet management solutions can tie it all together.
Equipment fleet management technology gives you comprehensive visibility throughout your operation. Rugged tablet PCs equipped with GPS complete the loop, thanks to wireless communication that puts information into the hands of far-flung drivers and crew members.
Dispatchers can see individual equipment location, status and usage in real time, plotting the details on a digital “status map” of the entire facility. Color-coding makes it even easier to see movement as it happens. Complete visibility – and the ability to select the nearest available equipment and operator -- speeds workflow and saves on fuel.
Tracking and increased control also significantly improve safety and security – two areas of special concern for aviation facility managers. The International Air Transport Association says ground support is responsible for billions of dollars in equipment damage annually.
Using a GPS-based process called geofencing, the system can alert dispatchers or managers if a vehicle or driver ventures into unauthorized territory supports. In addition, vehicle-specific safety checklists can be created and followed using a tablet PC before the vehicle can be started. Checklist data can be instantly uploaded, helping avert potential accidents. And stored data can be used to comply with regulatory requirements for tracking and recording of AGE/GSE safety information.
Tracking makes the best use of personnel, too. That’s especially important because individuals are trained and authorized for different equipment and different operation areas, yet mistakes are a common cause of accidents. Automated data capture enables easy back-office coordination of time sheets for payroll, too.
AGE/GSE assets are expensive and costly to maintain.
Real-time tracking enables continuous monitoring of vehicle and aircraft engine hours, etc. needed to effectively predict and plan maintenance. Consistent preventive maintenance scheduling can significantly reduce long-term maintenance costs by reducing unnecessary engine wear and through early detection and repair of problems before they grow out of hand.
Equipment fleet management solutions improve productivity and facilitate more effective decision-making. Forecasting becomes more reliable. Billing takes place faster, and it’s more accurate. Across-the-board efficiencies substantially improve the bottom line – or enable more cost-effective redeployment of resources.
Ultimately, the ability to track AGE/GSE usage could even lead to reductions in fleet size or manpower needs, generating tremendous savings in capital costs, ongoing maintenance and labor costs and total cost of ownership.