Why airports should streamline components of their management systems

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With more than 45% of the total US population vaccinated, Americans are ready to travel again, with increased confidence in safety. While airports are seeing a surge in travelers this summer, safety and health will still be top of mind as people head out on vacation. To make traveling safer and more enjoyable from curb to gate, airports must efficiently manage their buildings and the occupants.

An integrated suite of building technology solutions can provide airport facility and operations managers with a bird’s eye view of everything that’s happening within their buildings while standardizing operating procedures, quickly identifying and correcting critical building control and maintenance issues, and using data analytics technology to predict and avert problems before they develop.

Break down silos to mitigate risk

Today’s airports are filled with data, from terminal logistics to approach patterns for airplanes landing on the runways. In most airports, the data lives in discrete silos that separate the procurement, management and operations of the network infrastructure. By housing all of the data in a single intelligent platform, an airport can operate with greater insight, efficiency and responsiveness.

Airport facility and operations managers can use this data to monitor routine tasks and quickly identify potential risks from perimeter intrusion and other security threats, early smoke detection, queue formation, air quality issues and passenger compliance. Proactively managing these kinds of potential threats can help travelers feel more relaxed about the airport environment. Even possible discomfort issues like a dip in indoor air quality (IAQ) can be addressed in real time or even before they occur.

Smart building solutions, for example, can run an enhanced rules engine (a software system that executes one or more rules in a certain setting) to quickly alert the right teams when a critical incident occurs, such as a power failure in a wing of the airport or even a traveler’s medical emergency. From there, the platform can help automate next steps such as camera recordings, locking or unlocking doors, or even calling paramedics.

Take action from anywhere to minimize downtime

Every year, building systems integrate more devices from other systems, which means ever greater throughput of data. A breakdown or security breach can be that much more costly. During an incident – say, a hacker changes flight data – making the right decisions quickly can mean the difference between minor downtime and a major disruption.

An integrated platform can enhance an airport’s resilience by helping facility and operations managers respond more quickly and with greater consistency. By consolidating cameras, fire sensors, HVAC and other systems into one platform, airports can organize the data for a more efficient investigation and diagnosis. Airport management from a single platform also enables facility and operations managers to fully access the airport from any location, helping teams follow events and take action, whether on-site or on the go.

Even more, by keeping a close eye on all systems from a single platform, staff can easily monitor the building’s health, further protecting travelers and employees from fire risk, IAQ lapses and security threats. Integrating all systems into one platform gives airport occupants increased peace of mind, reassuring them that the facility can respond to incidents faster or prevent them in the first place.

Minimize costs without sacrificing safety

Airports consume massive amounts of energy, which often can account for 10 to 15% of the facility’s entire operating budget. This also means they have the potential to make substantial savings on energy expenditure. Through intelligent, responsive controls from an integrated platform, airports can automate routine functionality and use data to optimize energy consumption.

As airports become more complex and challenging for any one person or team to manually operate, facility and operations managers are also turning to automation to realize cost savings through staff scheduling. For example, they can use AI (artificial intelligence) to analyze trends throughout the facility, such as targeted wait times at each processing point or a bag load factor (the weight of luggage onboard a flight, which is taken into consideration during fuel up). Using that data, facility and operations managers can update systems to anticipate the number of staff needed at a checkpoint or the amount of fuel needed for a certain bag load, ultimately saving airports and airlines money.

Streamline workflows to empower staff

Workflow coordination has proved to be an ongoing challenge for airports, especially as the workforce continues to evolve, whether it be post-pandemic personnel changes or a new generation entering the workforce. This challenge can be magnified by emergencies such as a power outage or medical incident. By incorporating tools into a building system that can adapt to specific circumstances, airports can increase confidence and productivity, further helping staff stay in sync and in control, no matter the situation.

An automated workflow promotes greater efficiency in maintenance and operations overall. By integrating cloud connectivity, airports can coordinate and control operations and manage alerts from virtually anywhere. Standard operating systems also help improve the quality and consistency of workstreams. With one integrated platform, an airport can give all staff members access to airport controls from nearly any system and also train newcomers quickly on systems and workflows. By having access to controls from any system, staff can further strengthen the building’s health and resilience, making it safer for all building occupants.

As a result of the pandemic, the world had to change the way it travels. One factor driving that change is the need for travelers to feel safer and more secure in indoor spaces – spaces we used to frequent without a second thought. An integrated management system not only improves airport efficiency, reduces costs and minimizes risk; it also can inform occupants in real time of an airport’s building health. By making travelers more aware of their indoor surroundings, airports can increase passenger confidence, ultimately creating a safer and more enjoyable travel experience.

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About Author

Tijen Cirig is global director, airports vertical, at Honeywell Building Technologies

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