At RedBite, the Internet of Things (IoT) is not simply about connecting sensors and devices to the Internet, it is about connecting any object to systems, people and fellow objects. This could include anything, from air conditioning units at the University of Cambridge, to vehicles used in an airport.
Manchester Airport approached us seeking a solution for managing their supplier-owned vehicles and equipment. They wanted all asset information and history records to be easily accessible by different parties around the airport and stored in one place. RedStore makes this possible.
Manchester Airports Group (M.A.G) is the largest UK-owned airport operator in the country. M.A.G’s overall strategic intent includes deploying efficient and customer focused operating processes throughout the business. One of the four airports that belongs to the umbrella group is Manchester Airport, which handles around 22 million passengers per year, using over 60 airlines and flying to around 200 destinations. To achieve this throughput, the airport utilises thousands of pieces of equipment, ranging from vehicles to tow bars. All equipment is essential to complete tasks such as aircraft turnarounds, to transport staff, passengers and baggage as well as transporting other maintenance equipment.
Safety is critical in airports. The expected standards are, naturally, very high and also highly regulated. The UK Civil Aviation Authority sets rigorous regulations about the use and maintenance of airside vehicles. If you picture the airside environment at an airport, you might think of various mobile staircases, baggage trucks and towing equipment. What might not occur to you is the fact that these assets are owned and managed by different suppliers. In fact, there are over 20 handling agents associated with various airlines at Manchester Airport.
Nevertheless, it remains the responsibility of the airport operator to ensure that only those vehicles that meet strict standards of maintenance are allowed airside. As a result, the management of these assets can become quite complex and inefficient.
To provide an asset and vehicle tracking solution that will result in improved management of supplier-owned airside vehicles, by providing greater visibility of and accessibility to the necessary asset information, resulting in increased control over asset maintenance schedules.
- Airside security gate personnel must be able to easily identify any authorised vehicles
Airside security gate personnel use documentation to decide on a vehicle’s eligibility to enter the airfield. Only those vehicles that are fully maintained and authorised to access airside will be allowed through. Security personnel relied on paperwork to establish whether a vehicle’s maintenance certificate was valid or whether it had expired. This is a very manual, time-consuming task and as there are multiple access points, it became challenging to keep track of the relevant paperwork.
With RedStore, all chosen vehicles and equipment are tagged with a unique QR code which, when scanned, presents all the relevant authorisation information. A neat feature that we tailored to meet the airport’s needs shows a prominent red or green colour displayed on the profile, indicating whether an asset’s maintenance certificate has expired or whether that vehicle has the authorisation to access the airside. This significantly increases the efficiency of the security personnel’s process.
- Full asset register and history must be visible in one place
Airside operations staff currently patrol the airfield reporting safety and maintenance issues to the vehicle suppliers, whilst tracking the progress of any existing issues being resolved. Ground handlers who currently use the vehicles will be informed about which vehicles need maintenance. Having access to an historic record of past maintenance activities for each asset or vehicle is crucial for assessing safety and reliability and thus the solution needed to provide this.
RedStore allows for an asset’s full history records to be stored on the asset’s profile page. All updates are tracked, recorded and time and date stamped on the profile. In addition, profile pages can include many other pieces of information including pictures of the asset, whether the vehicle is authorised to be airside, any instruction manuals or other relevant attachments as well as any comments added to the asset’s profile. In addition to assisting with safety matters, storing all information in one location reduces the amount of data that is lost or inconvenient to retrieve.
- Airport and airside staff must find the solution to be easily accessible and convenient to use
RedStore is available in a mobile application that syncs intelligently to the cloud which can thus be used without Wi-Fi or phone connectivity. RedStore also has a web application that allow users to view their assets online. This allows staff to scan and update information no matter where they are. As a result of storing this information in the cloud, it is now accessible remotely across the whole airport.
For example, if a member of staff notices a damaged tyre on a vehicle, they can scan the vehicle’s QR code, take a picture of the fault and add a comment, if necessary. All of this new information will be added to the asset’s profile.
There are many more suppliers at the airport who can start to use RedStore, with the ultimate aim that they will all follow the same process to ensure widespread consistency. We also provided Manchester Airport with RFID tags to be trialed so that in a future phase we can couple RedStore with another of our products, RedEdge. Together with RedEdge, RFID technology will fully automate the process of authorising access at the airfield entry points.
“We have worked closely with RedBite to trial RedStore with one of our ground handlers and tagged their vehicles and equipment. The output from RedStore has thus far met all the anticipated objectives. Although we are only beginning the implementation, RedBite has been providing us with tailored software updates to continuously improve the product for ourselves.
With safety being paramount in an airfield environment RedStore has been particularly effective with equipment on the airfield – it has enabled us to create a profile for each item which consequently has greatly increased the amount of control we have monitoring the maintenance schedules.”
– Rick Mernock, Airfield Network and Performance Manager at Manchester Airport
If you have just finished reading this and are thinking to yourself, “I am struggling with similar problems!” then drop us an email at [email protected] and allow us to help.
Every object tells a story. RedStore lets them speak.