A Grand Design for Delta

The central GSE facility in Atlanta serves as the epicenter for maintaining its entire network.

With so many pieces of GSE throughout its network –—and the added pressures of flight schedule changes at various airport locations — Delta relies, in large part, on a couple separate software systems.

To keep track of its inventory, the carrier uses EBis GSE Express by DatcoMedia, which houses information for the main carrier, Delta Global Services and Regional Elite.

“We can see everything by equipment type within a city,” says Anthony Kloehs, system manager — GSE assets & maintenance programs at Delta. “Basically, it’s a big inventory database.

“From there we are able to create work orders and use it for the maintenance side of the program. And from there we generate preventative maintenance schedules,” he says, relating, “We are watching every single city around the world for their maintenance.”

He adds, “We are getting ready to transition to where we will be buying parts through it, and utilizing the capabilities of that to go out and look at a couple companies, and bring back the parts, estimated delivery times and let the mechanic make that decision on price, delivery, operational requirement. That’s the big step for next year.”

Flight schedules being what they are, the GSE needs of each station around the world can vary as schedules fluctuate. To properly allocate equipment at different stations, Kloehs says the carrier uses software by Sabre Airline Solutions. “We are about three months ahead looking out at the proposed schedule to see if any of their peaks have changed: peak departures, but also within those peaks, the different fleet types also,” he says.

The merger of Delta with Northwest Airlines introduced many additional pieces of equipment into its network, bringing it to the current estimate of more than 100,000 units system-wide.
“With the merger, we’re at more than 100,000 pieces,” Fuqua says. “Before the merger, we were at approximately 55,000 to 60,000, so we’ve not quite doubled.”

Along with allocating and maintaining the additional equipment, another challenge came in the form of painting the units to reflect the Delta name. “The biggest piece was getting all the equipment together, getting it branded appropriately, which we are still trying to do,” Fuqua says.

“Our next attempt right now is that we’re bringing the Regional Elite airline’s equipment into the fold,” he says. “We’ve got that equipment coming in, and we’re trying to get it painted and branded appropriately, and that’s an ongoing challenge. That will add to the more than 100,000 pieces out there.”

GSE purchasing
Delta has made clear it will continue to purchase new equipment. In what was a sign of an upswing in the industry, the carrier recently announced that it would spend about $50 million for new GSE, with an initial order worth $14.5 million for deicers, which it began accepting in November.

According to Kloehs, the funds will be used to acquire many different types of equipment, including bag tugs, pushback tractors, container loaders, towbarless tractors and cabin service trucks. The total number of units purchased will be about 600, which will include 100 electric units.

When it comes to purchasing by fuel type, the goal is electric, according to Fuqua. “Whenever possible we purchase electric equipment. There are a couple of guidelines around the electric equipment. For instance, the city has to have the infrastructure to support it, if they don’t have sufficient power to run a charger, we can’t put it in there. If they can, that’s our first choice,” he says.

Delta recently completed the conversion of one its container loaders in Atlanta. Fuqua says there is a possibility that the airline will continue to convert more of its units to electric in the future.

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