A number of companies, large and small, supply GSE tracking and telematics solutions. UK-headquartered multinational industry giant Babcock offers a wide selection of GSE fleet management services among an even wider range of systems and services applicable to the airport industry segment and Samir Maha, director of fleet management, Babcock Critical Services, tells us all about the portfolio
Can you describe the portfolio of products and services that you offer to the airport segment?
We offer the following core capabilities, supporting some of the world’s busiest airports and biggest airlines:
Fleet management of specialised GSE – Babcock provides through-life asset management of over 17,000 assets for some of the world’s busiest airports and operators, customers that include British Airways, Qantas, Alitalia, Heathrow Airport, Edinburgh Airport and São Paulo Guarulhos Airport.
We deliver optimised vehicle and asset fleets with high levels of reliability and availability and a typical cost reduction of 10-15%. Babcock provides:
Entire or part fleet through-life asset management including specialist equipment or vehicles
Specification and procurement of GSE to standardise and leverage better terms
Customised solutions using telematics and data-driven evidence to optimise fleet performance.
Operation and maintenance of complex baggage handling systems – Babcock delivers through-life integrated baggage solutions and support services to support customers that include Heathrow Airport, São Paulo Guarulhos Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
We employ over 1,000 experienced staff, providing the scale and capability to design, build, upgrade, operate, maintain, manage and improve baggage handling systems for customers anywhere in the world.
The company combines our strengths in engineering, project management and specialist control systems to ensure tight project control, a seamless transition, waste reduction and optimum performance from day one.
Working closely with Babcock customers, we provide single supplier accountability for driving continued airport performance whilst simultaneously delivering greater resilience and lower lifetime costs. As a service provider, independent of manufacturer, we ensure the right equipment for the task from HBS [hold baggage scanner] integration, early bag storage, check-in conveyors to out-of-gauge facilities.
We are experienced in working with all relevant major OEMs [original equipment manufacturers], including: Daifuku Logan, Siemens Airports, Beumer Crisplant, Lodige, Geo Robson, Vanderlande, CDG Systems, Sovex Systems & Caljan Rite-Hite, Schieholz and Nerak Wiese.
Within the UK, Babcock operates and manages all of Heathrow’s baggage handling systems. This includes transporting the entire surface transfer baggage for all airlines based there. We also deliver technical improvements to the baggage handling systems at Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow and São Paulo Guarulhos airports. We also maintain 50% of Schiphol Airport’s baggage systems and provide key sortation controls and monitoring at Dubai and Vancouver Airports.
Consultancy, design, installation and improvements to existing baggage systems – As engineering is in our DNA, our engineering teams offer proven capability and independent expert system analysis to deliver best-value baggage solutions in the live airport environment – whether in terms of asset renewal, increased capacity, HBS equipment upgrade, performance improvements or changing business needs. In our analysis we will implement live trials, simulation and emulation to test alternative proposals to meet your requirements in the most cost-efficient ways.
We help our customers to expand their baggage system capacity to ensure both resilience and operational delivery during normal and high demand periods, as well as to meet future growth. Many airports are space-constrained and we deliver solutions that do not require wholesale infrastructure expansion or new baggage handling systems.
Babcock has a wealth of experience in delivering airport baggage systems in live environments, including working from initial concept design and consultancy for system design, build and testing through to post-installation operations, technical support and through-life maintenance. One of our market differentiators is the ability to integrate new components within existing baggage systems, avoiding total renewal.
BagNav, our advanced baggage control software, is now installed at some of the world’s busiest airports. It provides a full baggage sortation, reconciliation and tracking software solution from check-in to departure and from aircraft arrival to baggage reclaim. It takes information from a number of data sources and enables users to view the complete airport process without replacing whole control systems.
Airport infrastructure and IT systems management – Babcock provides comprehensive solutions to reduce complexity and duplication for airport operators. With technical expertise in passenger boarding bridge maintenance and design, build and installation of data integration systems, we ensure that operators use integrated data and information to effectively process their passengers in the minimum time and cost.
Our technical knowledge provides the ability to design and install new bespoke systems or provide advisory information or improvements to the use of existing systems. Our knowledge of complex project management means that we look for the most cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality in standards of service or impacting on daily operations. We have a proven track record in consistently reducing user costs for our customers.
What sort of system architecture and technologies are you using in your GSE fleet management systems?
Bespoke fleet management system – Babcock’s Modular Asset Management software provides powerful capability covering critical areas including preventative maintenance planning, inventory management, incident management, and management information.
We provide portals that allow customers to track the status of their assets and our own performance, helping them deploy their assets in the most effective way possible. We have also innovated, where it adds value, such as in relation to mobile applications and have deployed touch screens into our workshops to facilitate paperless working, in order to increase efficiency and reduce our environmental impact.
Integrated telemetry – On-board fleet telemetry is integrated within the fleet management system, giving us access to key vehicle and operator metrics both in real-time and retrospectively (including driver identification), GPS tracking, excessive acceleration and deceleration monitoring, and remote view to vehicle’s trip computer (ie, health and usage monitoring systems).
The way we use telematics depends on a number of factors, including budget and the customer’s objectives, such as increased health and safety performance or reduced downtime. Benefits can include increased safety performance, asset location tracking, usage monitoring, automated fault code reporting and predictive maintenance.
We are continually focused on the safety of people and believe that telematics has a critical part to play in helping to improve driver safety through monitoring behaviours such as speed, acceleration and braking. It helps to identify drivers, where data shows them to be consistently speeding or accelerating or braking too hard, requiring additional training to understand the safety impacts of their behaviours. Training can also be offered to help drivers develop a more efficient driving style and therefore increase the life of assets and reduce cost.
Asset location tracking can also be used to increase safety through creating a ‘geofence’ around an asset – alerting the service centre if it goes beyond a prescribed boundary. This can provide alerts when assets, such as heavy mobile quarry equipment, leave the areas where it is safe for them to operate, thus reducing the risk of injury.
In some of our other operations we have used telematics systems with the ultimate goal of reducing the overall cost of asset ownership and increasing asset availability. For example, by monitoring asset usage in real time planned maintenance activity can be scheduled more accurately, thereby reducing costs associated with early servicing or hours lost due to catastrophic failures resulting from assets running beyond scheduled service points.
Within an airport environment, we use real-time telematics data to monitor the level of charge in batteries on electric ground support equipment. This allows us to swap out and recharge batteries proactively thus reducing downtime due to flat propulsion batteries. By looking at utilisation data from assets in the same fleet, it has also been possible to significantly reduce the size of the overall fleet and the maintenance float – delivering savings to the customer.
Intelligent fleet management data – Over the last five years the amount of fleet management data that can be accessed and measured has increased dramatically, and we now have more data at our fingertips than ever before. Data is now easier to aggregate, and then interrogate, and this has led to a desire for live data accessible from anywhere on a range of devices.
This can be overwhelming, and it is therefore critical to synthesise this data so that individuals only see the data that is relevant to them at a given point in time. To achieve this, Babcock uses a number of different business intelligence tools that facilitate the interrogation of data and automate data analysis by identifying and informing the right people of trends relevant to them. For some customers, we also use dedicated telemetry analysts to provide end-users with precisely the information they need to make the biggest difference to their operational performance.
Another important aspect concerns data visualisation capabilities that help to make information and insights easier to understand – particularly for our customers operating in a dynamic environment. We do this by creating bespoke dashboards showing live information on role-specific areas such as fleet availability, response times and the number of open jobs (tailored for the specific role in question).
In addition, data can be used to understand the best course of action in response to particular events. For example, managing the fleet response to planned or unplanned surge events such as major planned works or extreme weather incidents.
Babcock is continually monitoring the wider fleet market for technology innovations and capability best practice, to improve the value proposition we provide to all our fleet customers.
Future developments – Babcock recently commenced an initiative to develop a next-generation Fleet & Asset Management Solution. This solution is expected to provide the foundations of a single, harmonised operating model for our fleet management capabilities, which will unlock benefits such as:
Improved customer satisfaction through the adoption of consumer-grade interfaces
Enhanced projections of whole-life cost to inform operational budgets and pricing
Improved predictability of failures and early intervention to improve cost avoidance and improve margins
Resource management and improved optimisation of fleet management resources, to the benefit of the end-customer’s operations
Procurement opportunities and the ability to unlock improved savings from innovative supply chain partnership models
Modular and scalable fleet management services for truly global fleet customers, allowing Babcock to provide a truly global fleet and asset management optimisation service.
What aspects of location and equipment performance are you measuring and recording? How is that data then disseminated and interrogated?
As mentioned above, we measure and act upon a range of data. This includes:
Equipment trends in failure, breakdown and consumable usage. This data is interrogated by fleet engineers who are able to find technical solutions to the root causes, leading to better equipment reliability and reduced cost of fleet ownership
Better understanding of fleet availability through peaks and troughs in demand, and at geographical hotspots around the airport. These allow us to model more efficient operating scenarios which allow the operation to be delivered with fewer assets
Operator behaviours such as standard equipment operation, acceleration, deceleration and travel routes. These are used for training needs analysis and driver management, leading to a safer, more efficient fleet and equipment operation.
What sorts of customers are using your management solutions?
We deliver GSE services to some of the world’s busiest airlines and airports, covering airport specialist fleets (operational vehicles/fire tenders and snow clearing equipment) and self-handing flag-carrier airport fleets. Our GSE fleet management customers include:
Heathrow: Babcock manages and maintains Heathrow’s 400-strong specialist GSE fleet comprising snow clearing equipment, fire tenders and airport operational vehicles. Babcock has developed an infrastructure of continuous year-round support to ensure that people and equipment are ready for both scheduled and unscheduled events. This includes a seven-month winter preparation programme where equipment is serviced, recalibrated and continually tested, ready for use from 1 November of every year
Qantas: We support the Qantas Group’s fleet of GSE, comprising more than 10,000 assets spread across over 60 locations across Australia. We are working in partnership to transform Qantas’ entire GSE fleet, streamlining fleet management throughout the airline’s domestic, regional, freight, catering and engineering operations, as well as Jetstar
Edinburgh: We manage and maintain Edinburgh Airport’s fleet of 200 specialist fleet units
Rio de Janiero Galeão: We manage and maintain Rio’s fleet of 60 support vehicles
Alitalia: We manage and maintain Alitalia’s fleet of over 2,000 specialist assets at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. Babcock has implemented an availability-focused approach to maintenance, improved and relocated workshops and ramp support, aligned the fleet to operational requirements, established a new parts supply chain and provides Alitalia with real-time availability and performance information.
Are you currently making any improvements to your range of products in the area of GSE fleet management?
Babcock is continually monitoring the wider fleet market for technology innovations and capability best practice, to inform our fleet management roadmap and improve the value proposition we provide to all our fleet customers.
Our scale in fleet management across a number of different markets allows us to retain dedicated Capability Development and Performance Improvement teams, who are constantly improving our services for GSE and sharing best practice from our other contracts.
In managing GSE fleets, we work closely on all elements that will help to improve performance at a reduced cost including the customer’s workshop requirements. We reduce workshop space through remapping workshop floors and optimising the use of space. This increases the efficiency of maintenance operations and release space to reduce costs or carry out other activities.
Improving supply chain performance
Babcock delivers improved lead times and a reduction in parts costs by reviewing the supply chain to deliver value for money, leveraging our buying power and performance managing incumbent suppliers.
Do you consider that we will see more and more positioning data and telematics used on airport GSE around the word? What might be driving this trend?
Absolutely – airports are space-constrained environments and their operators are always looking for ways to reduce congestion on the airfield to free space for other activities or increase efficiency.
Telematics and other data are becoming ever more important in helping to facilitate a reduction in the amount of GSE on the airfield, and improve performance and cost of ownership. In the long term, telemetry can be used to support innovative solutions such as equipment pooling and reduce the carbon footprint of our fleets through fuel efficiency and the support of low-emission vehicles.