GHI: Hi John, where have you been hiding? How’s business going?
JB: That’s an easy one; 2022 was a phenomenal year for growth, both for the industry and Damarel. 2023 looks to be even better! The rapid rebound from the challenges of Covid took everyone by surprise, and it provided a unique opportunity for ground handlers to invest in cutting-edge technology, helping them deal with remarkable growth.
The launch of our next generation FiNDnet Enterprise Suite came just when the industry needed it the most. With the ongoing pressure on staff recruitment and retention in ground handling, this suite of turn management, service capture, and billing tools landed at the perfect time, providing invaluable support to the industry. It not only slashes operational overheads but also empowers companies to scale up to meet the soaring demands of airlines. FiNDnet has become the tool of choice for handlers looking to improve efficiency and boost profitability during this time of unprecedented growth.
We're also witnessing soaring demand for our passenger handling solutions, and especially automated check-in services with our cutting-edge Local DCS. Widely adopted by handlers around the world for use with low-cost, charter, and point-to-point carriers, L-DCS streamlines their operations and enhances the passenger experience.
And if that wasn’t enough, we are in the middle of a large-scale rollout of our latest airside security and boarding software, leveraging innovative eGates to efficiently control and monitor access to various airport locations.
My role is to provide the vision and strategic direction for the company, looking to the next horizon and the future for aviation; to make sure that we have compelling solutions that keep us at the forefront of ground handling automation. It’s great that I have an exceptional team around me who can not only help deliver that vision, but they are also domain experts and skilled at tactical delivery.
GHI: Does Damarel have any significant achievements it would like to highlight over the last year?
JB: We’re fortunate to work with real trailblazers in the GHA community, companies who are looking to the future and realising the potential of automation to transform the landscape. Swissport stands out as a shining example of forward-thinking innovation.
Our close partnership with them and IATA has been driving the adoption of e-Invoicing, powered by FiNDnet Billing. The benefits are immense for all stakeholders, including airlines. Accurate, timely invoices that are delivered electronically, eliminating costly manual processes and streamlining cash flow. It's a leap into the future for aviation services billing, and the results are extraordinary.
Another trailblazer on the IT frontier is dnata. They are taking automation to a whole new level, not only optimising their turn management but also leveraging the valuable data collected from their turnaround processes by FiNDnet. This data-driven approach enables them to deliver exceptional service and drive standards of excellence in the industry.
There’s no doubt that our most exhilarating milestone in the last 12 months has been the launch of FiNDnet Enterprise! This groundbreaking platform represents years of relentless effort and dedication. The response has been phenomenal, with existing and new users eagerly adopting the system. The next six to 12 months are set to be an exciting ride as we onboard more stations and handlers, and our software has been meticulously designed to scale effortlessly – from the smallest operations to the largest.
GHI: Are there more ground handlers adopting the FiNDnet Suite?
JB: We are excited to announce the ongoing rollout of FiNDnet Enterprise to one of France's leading ground handlers, Onet. With a presence at six airports, Onet is bracing for significant growth and has taken proactive measures to ensure they have the right systems in place to capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead. We’re delighted to work with them to help support that growth. Their energy and enthusiasm is fantastic to see.
GHI: What’s the main challenges the industry is facing?
JB: Undoubtedly, staff recruitment and retention present significant challenges for ground handlers. Without adequate resources, the aviation industry faces a real threat to sustaining its growth. It is imperative to bring about a transformation in the landscape that values and rewards handlers more comprehensively for the essential services they provide. This change will empower them to invest further in staff training and development, rekindling the concept of a promising career within the field.
FiNDnet plays a crucial role in this by ensuring efficient operations and maximising the value of airline contracts, thereby fostering sustainable growth. However, it is crucial to remember that aviation remains fundamentally a people-driven industry, and the need for talented frontline staff will always be there. Investing in skilled and motivated personnel is the foundation for success in this industry.
GHI: To what extent will airport information systems transform the industry?
JB: Looking to the future, we are excited about the prospect of developing standardised interfaces for airport systems, which will facilitate seamless integration and data sharing. For example, the increasing prevalence of mobile devices has delivered huge benefit for airport operations, enabling event capture, timestamping, and service recording. Users have shown great enthusiasm in embracing this technology, which fits their expectations around modern tools.
Considering this, our vision for the future might seem counter-intuitive at first. We aspire to minimise manual input in applications such as FiNDnet Mobile. By harnessing the power of AI-driven vision systems, GSE tracking, ACARS feeds, and airport AODB and A-CDM platforms, we envision the automatic capture and sharing of most information. This transformative approach will significantly reduce the workload on staff, empowering them to focus more on their core responsibilities and provide a safe and efficient service.
In essence, our goal is to foster an environment where technological advancements lead to streamlined processes and increased staff productivity. We believe that with the right infrastructure in place, handlers can optimise their operations, increase airline satisfaction, and deliver even better services.
GHI: How do you motivate your staff?
JB: We are incredibly fortunate to have an exceptional group of individuals who not only possess a deep passion for the industry but also stand as acknowledged experts in their respective fields, driven to achieve excellence. Self-motivation comes naturally to them.
Recognising and appreciating their efforts is a top priority for us, so we've cultivated a robust social calendar. We regularly bring everyone together to celebrate achievements and have some fun. For Damarel, a sense of community is paramount, and these events play a vital role in achieving that.
From annual bike rides supporting local charities to delightful BBQs held in the office grounds and rejuvenating days spent on the water at nearby lakes, we ensure that our staff, their families, and even our customers actively participate. By including everyone, we strengthen the bonds that make our organisation truly special. The sense of community we have cultivated is a source of immense pride for us.
GHI: What Damarel’s USP compared to its competitors ?
JB: Quite simply, our focus lies solely on aviation. Everything we do is designed and developed in close collaboration with our global community of users, so we deliver precisely what the industry needs now and in the future. Our commitment to this industry-first approach allows us to provide unparalleled products and services to meet the ever-evolving demands of the aviation sector.
John is a highly respected software developer and entrepreneur based in the UK. He is a board member and Managing Director of Damarel Systems, a software company that provides innovative solutions for the aviation industry. Damarel’s vision is to deliver solutions that improve efficiency, productivity and profitability in airport operations, replacing legacy systems and manual processes with class-leading technology. For more information visit https://www.damarel.com/