More Than Maintenance

Feature More Than Maintenance Delta Air Lines GSE Maintenance group is involved with a lot more than just equipment maintenance, writes Michelle Garetson By Michelle Garetson/p> By Michelle Garetson October 2002 Same old, same old is not...

"We're trying to standardize [equipment] as best we can - cut down on maintenance costs, parts, training, and compliance issues, says Wright. "Tim Wix's, ACS side of the GSE group have done a tremendous job of trying to standardize the fleet and keep it modernized."

He adds, "We have teamed with SkyTeam members in a working group on GSE equipment to standardize the fleet worldwide and we communicate on a regular basis."

"We use laptops to diagnose and troubleshoot," says Wright. "All Ford products are computerized to note failure codes. On the supertugs (towbarless tractor) and diesel engines, we're hooking up laptops to troubleshoot, as well as on baggage systems. Our technicians have also developed a troubleshooting program for baggage systems. It's in the first phases of where we can see our Savannah location's baggage system and tell how it's functioning before the technicians leave Atlanta. This is a trial program, but as we update the baggage systems throughout the system, we will put our piece into where we can tie into more and more of the systems."

When asked which squawks get a top priority rating, Wright responded, "Supertugs at Atlanta. Systemwide, the biggest things are jetways, baggage systems — anything that will impact the paying customer in a negative way will get top priority."

John Francis - Delta GMT

He adds, "We really do pay attention to that. A baggage system could go down in a small city that's connecting up to a larger city, and that will mess up the entire system for 48 hours because there are missed bags. When we have missed bags, Delta is responsible for getting them to the customer, and there are additional charges that we have to pay to deliver that bag. A lot of times, you can generate ill will from the customer and that impacts you negatively."

Delta's maintenance tracking software is from SAP and this system tracks labor but Wright hopes to evolve it into where they can get historical data and can back it all the way down to the piece/part level.

"What we'd like to use it for is to track patterns," says Wright. "Whether it's for specific components for equipment or a pattern emerging in our regional facilities - historical data to help our operations improve. We want to be able to look at global issues as far as how I increase my productivity, what are my resources doing? What is my usage? When I get into developing the operating plan in October, I can see what are my costs of doing business."

Currently, the system is not meshed with parts inventory but is apparently on track to interface with that inventory in the future.

Wright contends that one of the biggest challenges for the ground support maintenance group is with baggage tractors, transporters, and baggage convey systems, which is a result of increased security procedures at airports.

"Passengers are checking 20 percent more of their baggage, which equates into more utilization of our bag tractors our transporters, our baggage convey systems and it really puts an enormous amount of load on the existing infrastructure," he explains. Without capital money to buy newer equipment and more equipment, and to better utilize the equipment, our technicians are being asked to perform the maintenance on it whenever it's down. It has really impacted us."

Cheering points? "Our Continuous Improvement teams. We're always looking for ways to 'insource' business," claims Wright. "Tampa owns all the jetways. When that contract comes up, we will be very active in pursuing the jetway maintenance in Tampa. We have just signed an agreement with ASA as far as providing maintenance on their fleet in Dallas. We do GateGourmet in Dallas and Cincinnati; and Ogden in Seattle. We do maintenance work for the city of Atlanta and local work for Coca-Cola on ground maintenance equipment for their corporate jets. We're always looking for ways to grow the business. That's part of the High Performance Work Teams - always looking for ways to open up available resources to grow the business and increase our insourcing revenues."

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