PASSENGER BOARDING BRIDGES
In the 1970s, Thyssen applied its extensive knowledge and experience with steel to the development of passenger boarding bridges for airports in Germany. A manufacturing and engineering facility was created in Kassel, Germany. ThyssenKrupp engineers studied every detail of passenger boarding bridge design, construction, operation and maintenance. Using their knowledge of steel, the engineers were able to design lightweight but extremely strong tunnel sections. Years of manufacturing experience produced designs that could be built to tight tolerances allowing greater precision. This resulted in a smooth, quiet operation that was and continues to be highly reliable.
1970S — 1980S GROWTH AND EXPANSION
Thyssen’s success in the boarding bridge industry was reinforced with the project at Madrid-Barajas Airport. In order to provide the 70 bridges needed for the project, the manufacturing had to be done in Spain. A manufacturing plant was established in Mieres (Asturias) to supply the airport. The globalization of the ThyssenKrupp passenger boarding bridge business had begun. Large orders were received from Gatwick and Heathrow Airports in Great Britain. To date, ThyssenKrupp has installed more than 2,000 passenger boarding bridges worldwide.
Thyssen purchased Stearns Airport Equipment Company in 1998 to support entry into the US market. Production of the Stearns product was quickly discontinued in favor of the technically advanced Thyssen bridge. The manufacturing facility was relocated and redesigned and immediately began producing bridges for US airports under the name Thyssen Stearns. The first 40 bridges were produced and installed in San Francisco’s new international concourses. The smooth aesthetics and advanced operational technology made the bridges popular. Orders rapidly came in from Los Angeles, San Diego and Edmonton and Toronto, Canada.
THE NEW MILLENIUM
In 2003, the company name was changed to ThyssenKrupp Airport Systems to reflect its actual corporate structure. Numerous major and visible improvements brought to the US market were now firmly established as the norm. Improvements included smooth walls and roof to prevent collection of water, the use of galvanized steel to prevent rust, the implementation of steel floors to prevent rotting and hydraulic elevation systems for smooth operations and an increased service life. Nearly 700 bridges have been manufactured with large orders from Chicago Midway Airport, Miami, Toronto, and JFK Airport in New York.
Manufacturers can set themselves apart by reacting quickly to changes in the market. Customer requests and feedback should be quickly implemented into the manufacturing process and bridge models constantly analyzed for improvements to enhance reliability, reduce maintenance costs and increase durability. At ThyssenKrupp, new products are continually introduced to accommodate new super jumbo aircraft and the increased population of regional jets. Boarding bridges should also be designed to accommodate various accessories such as: ground power units, pre-conditioned air units, cables hoists, bag slides and potable water cabinets.
It’s true, that when a passenger a boarding bridge operates properly, it won’t be noticed by most travelers. Instead, travelers are focused on the important business meeting or the loved-one waiting for them at the other end. By providing a complete solution to its customers and a commitment to continuous improvement and innovation, ThyssenKrupp Airport Systems will continue to serve the market with one of the largest and most important, but least noticed piece of equipment at the airport.