Consolidating Surveillance

NextGen surface technology improves situational awareness; operational efficiency


I.D. Systems, Inc: Wireless Vehicle Asset Management

AvRamp is a technology that starts with access control, says president and COO of I.D. Systems Ken Ehrman. I.D. Systems’ AvRamp® product is a wireless vehicle management system that controls, tracks, and directs the activity of airport operations, ground support, and cargo handling equipment, and those who operate it.

“What our system does is bring access technology to the vehicle,” says Ehrman. “Once the equipment user logs in, the technology records who logged in; for how long; where they went; what they did; how productive they were; etc. All of that data is collected wirelessly and can be used to improve efficiency, productivity, and peak fleet management.”

The device itself has a card reader embedded in the vehicle unit, relates Ehrman. The unit is linked by a wire to the ignition of the vehicle and a GPS receiver is built into it so the system always knows where that unit is. The system sends data using a 900-megahertz long-range signal back to ‘readers’ which are installed throughout the airport.

According to Ehrman, AvRamp’s potential competition uses cellular technology to track and monitor vehicles. The problem with that technology is that the user has to worry about low-coverage areas and losing the signal, says Ehrman, who relates that AvRamp’s long-range signal is very reliable.

Some advantages to the system include instant messaging capability between AvRamp users; the ability to assign duties to ground vehicles based on proximity to a particular aircraft; and idle control, an automatic sensor which turns off vehicles that have been running longer than required.

American Eagle Airlines has taken the lead role in utilizing AvRamp by installing the system at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). The launch date is currently set for September 28, says vice president of customer service policy and planning for American Eagle Larry Terrazas.

“We have all of our vehicles equipped, and the hold-up has been with the FAA and making sure the wireless signal isn’t going to interfere with any of their communication equipment,” says Terrazas.

He says the airline has two main focuses to address with the AvRamp system. The first is to try and get better standards for its preventive maintenance program. The airline currently uses calendar-based preventive maintenance for its ground support equipment. With the AvRamp system, users can be automatically notified when a particular piece of equipment is due for scheduled maintenance. “We really think if we go to runtime-based preventative maintenance, we’re going to be able to extend those cycles and not spend as much money as we are today,” says Terrazas.

“The second focus, which is probably going to wind up being bigger than we originally thought, is to monitor how much the vehicles are being used throughout an eight-hour shift, and how much time we are getting out of them.

“Like other airlines, we look at how many gates we use and how much equipment we need per gate, and regardless of what the schedule does, you rarely go in and adjust your ground equipment needs. It will help us right-size our ground support fleet.”

Additional features of AvRamp include impact sensing, which alerts users when a vehicle has struck another object; and geo-fencing, which can alert users when they drive near an active runway.

“The AvRamp system can be packaged and custom-tailored to the customer’s needs,” says Ehrman. “The system also has playback capability; you can go into the history of the system which can be very useful from a management perspective.

“It is a highly automated system that doesn’t require constant monitoring by extra staff.”

According to Terrazas, the airline rarely invests in anything that is more than a 12-month return on the investment. “This meets that requirement; we basically said that we are going to be able to save a good amount of dollars on changing our preventive maintenance cycles and in right-sizing our fleet,” explains Terrazas.

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