How Automated Asset Tracking Can Help Airports Function More Efficiently

Air traffic is set to double in the next two decades and it will bring new challenges in the management of the large number of assets, like the Unit Load Devices (ULDs), tractors, Maintenance, Repairs, and Overhaul (MRO) spare parts, etc., that are typically required at an airport for each departure. Currently each set of assets is tracked either manually or by its own stand-alone software e.g. ULD tracking is done by the software supplied by the ULD vendor; similarly, wheelchairs required in a flight may be tracked manually or through its own tracking software. Several airports are already super congested with complex slot sharing and swapping arrangements. Moving, tracking, planning, and managing assets in a seamless way can help airlines, airports and service providers to be more effective.

A Single Missing Ladder Could Have Major Consequences

It is difficult to have a single view of the critical assets for a particular flight to see if there is any risk in departure or any risk in customer service because of unavailability of an asset. For instance, portable step ladders for aircrafts need to be available during both takeoff and landing. A delay in sourcing a ladder could mean a delay in the flight’s operation. Similarly, there are several other moveable assets including luggage trolleys, wheelchairs, dollies, fuel trucks, catering trucks etc. Tracking these assets can not only help avoid delays, but it can also optimize assets. Eventually, these add up towards faster gate turnarounds thus delivering a superior customer experience. The operations executives and customer service executives need to have a full view of each asset, it’s location and when it can be made available at the right gate or stand.

Challenges around Moving Assets

The major challenges in tracking airport or airline assets are:

  • Asset ownership: Many of the assets are not owned by the airlines or airports
  • Air travel growth plan: Air traffic (both passengers and flights) is set to double in the next two decades as per an industry forecast and the air traffic congestion will adversely effect On Time Performance (OTP)
  • Technology adoption challenges due to regulatory and weather constraints
  • Infrastructure: High cost and effort in installation and certification of hardware in addition to concerns by asset owners around add-on devices

We believe that operations personnel should be able to see real-time view of movable assets and people, on digital displays, that are synched with the planning and scheduling software, so that any deviations from plan (delayed ULD movement, fuel truck taking extra time, cargo temperature in the cold store, shortage in ground handling manpower) are all available on a single pane of glass that can be viewed at every gate.

A Single Real-time View of Assets

Our solution is a combination of Infosys’ Location-Based Service (LBS) platform, RFID, IoT and iECP (Infosys Enterprise Cognitive Platofrm) with existing tracking technologies such as IoT based sensors/beacons or GPS for asset monitoring and tracking in airports. Once an asset is configured, it can be viewed as a graphic on the airport map, irrespective of the technology used for tracking it. Analytics can help determine if there is any danger of the asset’s location causing a delay in the departure or arrival of an aircraft. There are also provisions for a dashboard view and for automatic tracking and alerts.

Our solution is built on open source microservices architecture making it highly configurable, cloud-ready, and, flexible and which can be integrated with leading commercial planning systems. It also works with industry leading IoT sensors and beacons. We have developed airport plans using Mapbox (an open source mapping platform to create customizable maps) for some of the leading US airports and use overlay projections in real time to visualize assets on the ground.

This can help track unavailable or misrouted assets and provide a single real-time view of all assets. There’s a great opportunity for airlines to optimize the number of assets through better planning. Automated asset tracking/smart asset monitoring can go a long way in improving the efficiency of an airport, eventually leading to more satisfied customers and greater revenue. For more details visit