In this Buyer’s Assessment, we turn the spotlight on Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and its testing of ITW GSE’s new 7400 battery-powered GPU
Over the years, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has been a frequent purchaser of the fixed power units (FPUs) of ITW GSE, the Odense, Denmark-headquartered ground support equipment supplier that brings under its ITW umbrella brand other well-known, historical names in GSE provision including AXA Power, Hobart, Houchin and J&B Aviation.
There are currently more than 100 ITW GSE power coils and other solid-state ground power units (GPUs) in operation at the Dutch capital’s airport, but a completely new ‘greener’ power supply option is currently being tested at the gateway.
That GPU is ITW GSE’s all-new 7400 battery-powered unit. Based on the ITW GSE 2400 solid-state converter powered by the proven Nissan Leaf battery pack, the unit has no diesel emissions (ITW GSE assesses that the 7400 offers a 90% reduction in harmful emissions at the workplace compared to a diesel GPU), extremely quiet operation and the capability of providing power at a gate where no fixed power source is available; the 7400 therefore offers an environmentally friendly, reliable and flexible power option for aircraft docking at remote gates.
It is also less expensive to operate than a diesel GPU, with ITW GSE claiming a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than a conventional diesel equivalent after just six years.
Development and evaluation
Testing on the 7400 began at Schiphol last year and has continued into this year, with the unit now handling commercial aircraft on tight turnarounds at Schiphol as part of its ongoing evaluation. One man who worked closely with ITW GSE in what he describes as the ‘initiation’ phase of the unit’s development, and has continued to do so during the testing and evaluation process, is Schiphol’s manager process innovation, Marcel van Beek. Having moved across on 1 January 2017 to a role undertaking proofs of concept on technologies that will assist the airport in delivering “operational excellence”, van Beek had previously worked on sustainable development projects at Schiphol.
As part of those initiatives, van Beek looked at minimising emissions on the ramp through the potential use of different ‘green’ technologies: solar power, wind power, hydrogen and battery power. Considering the latter’s potential, he talked to battery suppliers such as Nissan, and indeed was involved with bringing together ITW GSE and Nissan in order to assess how they might help Schiphol in the provision of environmentally-friendly power on the ramp.
Van Beek wanted an electronic GPU, or EGPU, that is free of emissions, is quiet, requires little or no retraining on the part of operators familiar with diesel GPUs, needs little maintenance and has a high degree of reliability. These were the requirements he passed on to ITW GSE, who then got to work with Nissan to create the new 7400, which is designed to fulfil all those criteria.
The co-operation between the three bodies – Schiphol, Nissan and ITW GSE – went and continues to go very well, van Beek says. “The future look green and bright,” he predicts, adding that he has been delighted with his collaboration with ITW GSE. In particular, van Beek informs, the supplier has been very good at “managing expectations”, being honest and open – not something, perhaps, that can be said of the relationship between all manufacturers and their end customers.
Given the success of the testing programme at Schiphol ITW GSE fully expects the 7400 to go into full production this year.
As well as GPUs, ITW GSE also manufactures and supplies pre-conditioned air units (PCA) and various GPU- and PCA-related accessories to the airport market.
It is a wholly owned division of Illinois Tool Works, or ITW, a US Fortune 200 company.