Schiphol aims to be the world’s leading digitally innovative airport

By | 3 minute read | January 22, 2019

airplane landing

In 2017, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol moved nearly 70 million passengers and 1.8 million tons of cargo, making it the third-largest airport in Europe. That’s important, but let’s be clear: we at Schiphol aren’t aiming to be the biggest. Our ambition is to further develop Mainport Schiphol as a multi-modal hub and secure Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s position as Europe’s Preferred Airport – the first choice of travelers, airlines and logistics service providers.

There are at least 80,000 reasons for Schiphol to embark on a digital transformation effort. That’s the number of individual assets—from escalators to toilets and lighting—that we have, spread over about 7,000 acres. Each of them is a piece of the puzzle of what makes a smooth and satisfying experience. And it’s why the optimization of maintenance processes—the art and science of keeping assets up and running—represents one of our top transformation priorities.

Speed and prediction keeps things humming

Let’s look at two of the different strategies for asset maintenance: corrective and predictive. Optimizing corrective maintenance is largely about the speed and smoothness with which service orders are booked, handed off and acted on. Put simply, fix it fast and it’s less likely to impede a passenger’s experience in the airport. Predictive maintenance is about taking the advanced, proactive steps to reduce the chance that assets will break down. It’s premised on using data and models to predict when assets are likely to break down and fix them in advance to get ahead of the curve.

We’re doing both. We’re building on our long experience using IBM Maximo for asset management by incorporating new capabilities in areas like mobile work order management, Internet of Things (IoT), Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Digital Twin technology. While it’s still early, we’re already seeing big results on a number of fronts.

Work orders on the fly, anywhere

Take work orders. Under our old systems, it could take hours for one of our specialized subcontractors to pick up a work order, go to the asset and repair it. With IBM Maximo Mobile, they can pick up a work order while they walk through a terminal, and then start the work within minutes. The fact that Maximo Anywhere has offline functionality is a huge plus for crews working underground, in elevator shafts or in other remote spots.

We’re also making big progress on our vision for predictive asset maintenance: using sensor data to improve asset failure prediction. Using IBM Watson IoT and IBM Maximo Health, we’re moving to automate processes using machine learning models to decide what project needs to be done, at what time and by whom.

Collaborating in digital space

And let’s not forget that at the end of the day, airport maintenance is a team effort. By integrating a Building Information Modeling (BIM) process into our asset management, we’re able to create a “digital twin” of Schiphol. By importing asset information from the 3-D BIM model into Maximo, every subcontractor in the collaboration group can walk through a 3-D model of the airport featuring all of its assets. By giving them a better picture of the location of specific parts of an asset, it helps facilitate the actual maintenance work and promote a more collaborative work environment.

What ties all these examples together is that they reduce the chance that non-functioning assets can impact the passenger experience, which translates into increased levels of satisfaction. And of course, that’s what a digital airport is all about.

Watch Sebastiaan de Sterke talk about increasing asset availability at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in order to provide passengers with a smooth journey: