Now, with demand for air freight increased and passenger airlines returning to pre-Covid levels, many teams have adopted telematics solutions to relieve the pressure of managing more with less resources. During the pandemic, there was a quiet yet consistent expansion of connected fleet solutions for ground handling and supply-chain management and gate management.
What is telematics?
The average telematics software is intended for fleet managers and provides them a real-time view of GPS location, engine diagnostics and driver behavior. Some solutions may target airport and operations managers providing tools for predicting maintenance, resolving equipment issues remotely, or optimizing engine and operator performance.
All telematics begin with sensors integrated into equipment in the field. These sensors are attached to a small computer that is connected to the internet and is constantly communicating data back for teams to see. The telematics software collects this data and presents it to the user in the form of an event. These events represent real data about what actually happened. It can range from equipment engine failure to temperature readings on a passenger boarding bridge.
“As aviation ground support embraces telematics as part of GSE fleet management, improved GSE utilization, serviceability, and reliability – as well as reduced costs – will be the results,” said Eric Davis, Director of Global Customer Care at JBT Aerotech.
The value of telematics is in its ability to provide us with descriptive information on these events and to effectively help us react. In our experience, fleet management users of JBT iOPS, have used this data to optimize turnaround time, reduce costs, maximize in-service time, and investigate repairs. For many of our users the remote visibility gives them real-time access to the state of their devices, without adding unnecessary paperwork for their teams on the ramp. Through fleet awareness and instant visibility alone, the price of the technology easily outweighs the cost needed to gather that same information through manual methods.
Reacting to predicting
With the simple addition of real-time data, fleet managers benefit almost immediately from an increased reaction time. For many users, the awareness they get is like having added insurance on the ramp. When a device goes down or an emergency happens, they can make more informed decisions and resolve these issues faster.
Many fleet managers have already embraced simple telematics software, but more recently the advanced technology has steered market leaders into selecting software that provides expert recommendations and predictions. With simple systems, fleet managers can see the location and status of their assets. With advanced systems, the insight shifts to what happened and why.
In advanced telematics, fleet managers will see recommended actions they can take for resolution and tools to investigate why an event happened. Some of the newest solutions will also offer past event analysis. This helps teams identify the causes of different events and can help them intervene before issues escalate or even arise. To produce trustworthy results, expert knowledge and long-term support are paramount. For example, to know that a device requires maintenance, the system must know what telematic readings indicate there is an issue arising and what activity would mitigate that issue. Throughout a machine’s life, this information can be revised multiple times.
This ever-changing landscape requires a solution that provides quality support and expertise as its backbone. Many new or simple solutions fail to account for this or never expect to accommodate it at all. With JBT iOPS, it aims to deliver both a real-time monitoring and expert insight to optimize operations and maintenance. “Telematics can help you react faster, and iOPS can help you react better,” said Monique Hurley, iOPS Product Manager at JBT Aerotech
To make sure that the solution you choose can provide quality insight that scales with the needs of your work force, there are a few questions you can ask. The following questions from Gartner can help teams estimate a software’s maturity and the level of analytical insight it offers. The four questions below increase in complexity and in the value they can deliver to users. As you move up from 1 to 4, the workload of solving any problem is offloaded onto the software, saving time for its users.
Can this solution tell me…?
- What is happening?
- Why something happened?
- What will happen?
- How I can make something happen?
Most telematics solutions will successfully complete the first level by providing a real-time view into data that shows you what is happening. With the second level, why something happened, expert knowledge is built-in to help you interpret what the data means. Due to the realities of shifting requirements and supply chain challenges, the quality of the solution will only be as informative as those who can maintain it. Many companies may start off with expert alignment, but only the solutions that prepare to maintain that quality over time, will deliver.