Turn turbulent airport operations into high flying results with IoT solutions

How many times have you been at the airport and had to lug your bag up a flight of stairs because the escalator was broken? Or walked around a moving walkway that was standing still? How often have you wondered why your flight was delayed, or why it was taking so long to get your bags? These are everyday inconveniences that can now be avoided. How? With asset condition monitoring and predictive maintenance for airport operations made possible with IBM® Watson® IoT, and IBM Business Partner, Arrow Electronics.

The challenge of increasing flight volume

Air travel is predicted to double by 2035 to 7.2 billion passengers per year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). That means that airport facilities are under tremendous pressure to keep pace with projected growth. This phenomenal rate of expansion contributes to:

Declining passenger experience: Crowded airports create difficult and slow airport journeys.

Increasing operational costs: More operational staff is needed to keep airports functioning 24×7.

Non-optimal use of high-cost assets: Increasing unplanned equipment failures due to aging assets means more emergency repairs and non-optimized asset replacement.

Delays and minor inconveniences add up

One major cause of airport flight delays is the availability of potable water. Planes can’t leave without drinking water, according to airline regulations. Despite the importance of this water, doors to the cabinets that house it at every gate are often left open. In cold winter locations, lines may freeze, water in the planes are not replenished and flights can’t leave on time.

In addition, minor inconveniences add up to safety hazards and poor customer experience when escalators, moving walkways and baggage handling systems are not consistently operational. These problems may cause customers to spend less money at the airport, or they may even feel they had such a poor experience that they would consider using a different airport for their next trip. Because airports are measured on their safety and customer experience records and this information is public, there is a strong incentive to improve the door-to-door experience of passengers and other patrons.

The solution is Smart

To tackle these challenges of customer satisfaction and operational performance, IBM and Arrow Electronics have worked together to develop Arrow’s Smart Airport Asset Management Solution. It’s a solution that addresses the complex challenges faced by a typical airport.

The Arrow end-to-end solution offers hardware, software and cloud services encompassing industry tested IoT sensor kit, gateways and cloud-hosted Maximo® EAM (enterprise asset management) and IBM Watson IoT Platforms. IBM Watson IoT platform helps derive data and insight from IoT devices and IBM Maximo® enterprise asset management(EAM) software helps monitor the health of physical airport assets in real time, streamlining airport operations. This solution helps provide efficient operation and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of airport assets.

Running a pilot at a large North American airport

The foundation for the solution is a pilot currently running at a large North American airport. Currently, Arrow collects data from escalators, moving walkways, baggage handling systems and potable water cabinets. Tools and software connect systems that focus on:

Baggage handling: Predict failures by monitoring vibration, noise and temperature through sensors near motors, actuators and other critical components

Moving walkways and escalators: Predict equipment failures by monitoring vibration, noise, hydraulic fluid leaks and temperature via sensors installed near motors, actuators, gearboxes and other critical components

Potable water cabinets: Temperature, flow, leak detection and other sensors are in the potable water cabinet. Anomalous sensor readings trigger automated alerts, for example, freezing water, open doors.

EDI, an IBM Premier Business Partner, is Arrow’s Maximo deployment partner for the pilot.  EDI worked with the airport to develop the use cases, as well as the actions that come from analyzing the IoT data. The solution included individual dashboards for real time asset health monitoring across the four asset families. The airport in the pilot program is using the solution to demonstrate how an IoT strategy can optimize the reliability of key infrastructure systems.

How airport operations can benefit from the Arrow Smart Airport Asset Management Solution

The Arrow Smart Airport Asset Management Solution delivers extensive benefits to airport operators, customers, airlines and other airport patrons. This include improvements in airport performance, customer experience, operational productivity, and asset lifecycle.

     Improve airport performance

  • Increase aircraft on time departures by eliminating ground service delays due to potable water issues.
  • Optimize airport revenues by ensuring gate availability and reducing unnecessary gate reassignments and closures.
  • Expedite baggage delivery and reduce baggage damage during baggage transfers and passenger delivery.
  • Improve airport infrastructure while maintaining a safe and efficient environment for passengers, workers and airline staff.
  • Enhance the passenger experience to create a positive and profitable retail atmosphere.

Improve customer experience

  • Ensure passenger comfort and convenience by reducing difficult trips through the airport due to inoperable moving walkways and escalators.
  • Improve baggage delivery time to passengers and reduce baggage mis-connections while maintaining required up time on baggage transport systems.

Optimize operational productivity

  • Enable rapid response times to problems by providing detailed asset location and configuration information, maximizing effectiveness of maintenance crews.
  • Decrease wrench time and increase right first-time fixes by providing crews with details of asset problems.
  • Enable centralized monitoring and management, eliminating visits to remote and hard to reach assets for performance checks.

Optimize asset use, costs and lifecycle

  • Predict problems before they become catastrophic minimizing damage and extending asset lifecycles.
  • Increase asset uptime through proactive, need-based repairs; avoid failures during busy airport times.
  • Lower costs through reducing spares inventory for assets under condition-based monitoring schemes.
  • Decrease expenditures on passenger carts and other alternate transportation used in lieu of inoperable moving walkways and escalators.

Inspiration takes flight at IBM IoT Exchange

Stay tuned for a Quick Bytes live episode airing later today where I go into more detail about the partnership and solution.

Read the press release here.

Learn more about the pilot of Arrow’s Smart Airport Asset Management Solution

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