Fraport introduces TWS, a new telemetry data-optimized maintenance control system
The vehicle fleet at Frankfurt Airport numbers more than 1,500 ground handling vehicles, from on-board power units to airport tugs. They are accompanied by almost 10,000 pieces of towed equipment, like the many types of trailers and freight wagons that speed around the apron. This makes up a huge fleet that has to be controlled, maintained and managed. To help achieve this, Fraport Fleet Management can now call upon an innovative system that transmits telemetry data from the vehicles and equipment to the control center in real time. This means that the current location of a piece of equipment can be established digitally and at glance, together with information on whether all of its key functions are working or whether maintenance will soon be required.
The new system is called TWS, which stands for “Telemetriedaten optimiertes Wartungssteuerungssystem” – telemetry data-optimized maintenance system – and it will catapult Fraport into the future of technology. “We are well ahead of our time. By 2030, systems like this will be optimizing processes at all airports as an integral element of ground handling,” explains Bernhard Scholz, Head of Fleet Management at Ground Services. Today, though, he and his team can count themselves as pioneers. TWS is nothing less than a technical and logistical revolution in fleet management – and the first system of its kind in the world. Scholz: “The road from our first attempts at GPS-based location in 2001 to where we are now has been a long one. Building on the usual GPS to localize location-related data, we added several special features, such as new algorithms, to the software that runs and controls TWS now.”
But a worthwhile one, too. It used to be the case that looking for a certain vehicle was a game of fishing in the dark, while the need for repairs would often come as a surprise or important maintenance would be skipped. TWS brings light into this darkness. So that the system can work, the fleet vehicles first have to be fitted with transponders, which measure and send information on operating hours, the working order of the vehicles and their maintenance status to operations control by GPS. The collected information and geodata for the entire fleet is shown on a digital map of the airport.
“This means that we know about imminent defects long before the loading crew notices that anything is wrong and can respond accordingly with our taskforce. This allows us to proactively initiate regular mainte‧nance in cooperation with the workshops, meaning that TWS also forms the basis of our repair shop control tool,” explains Scholz. Another advantage: All of the vehicles and equipment are kept behind a virtual “geofence.” If a ground power unit leaves the apron area without authorization, this is automatically reported by the system. This allows third-party use to be identified and calculated at all times – which was not previously the case.
All in all, a whole range of plus points with tangible economic benefits. 200 units from the Fraport vehicle fleet have been fitted with transponders to date. All 1,500 pieces of motorized handling equipment used by Ground Services will be successively fitted and connected to TWS. And the system is set to be linked to data from the flight information service before the year is out. The new system offers extensive options for evaluation, meaning it is not only being used by Fleet Management, but is also already proving popular among customers when performing quality assurance as part of airline audits.