Right Sizing Electronic Ways of Refuelling
By Christine Grötzbach
Many airlines have been struggling in the recent years. The terrible attack on the 11th September 2001 revealed their financial crisis and led to big economic cuts. The ground-handling service companies are seeking ways out of the crisis trying to eliminate ineffective cost elements.
Surveys and analysis show that a majority of the total cost of ground handling services can be connected to time and personnel cost for administrative tasks. Reducing these costs offers service providers to be competitive in an increasingly narrow market.
IT-systems often promise to be the unique solution for every organizational problem. But a cool, deciding calculator assesses that the money invested for a solution has to return as soon as possible and with the highest possible factor. While automation is state-of-the-art, he knows that some tasks can be done quicker and easier with a sheet of paper and a pen. He knows that the efficiency of an electronic solution depends on the right-sized choice. And, with the complexity of the system, the necessity of in-depth training increases.
Dr. Andreas Goldschmidt-Rokita, managing director of DCo DVConvent Informationsmanagement of Hamburg, Germany, recommends to correlate the degree of automation to the number of repetitive administrative actions: "We grow with our customers. When you spend your budget for items that actually don't bring you forward, you won't keep your market strength, fall back and worse - go bust. Consequently, it is our target to find the most effective solution to ease your work. For ground-handling service companies, criteria for the selection are the number of operations respective to outgoing flights per day."
AFS Aviation Fuel Services & Management GmbH of Hamburg, Germany was founded in 1986 and is now owned by Lufthansa and representatives of the mineral oil industry. Approximately 320 persons with a fleet of more than 120 vehicles (fuelers and dispensers) are involved at aviation service stations and tank depots. Jürgen Grötzbach is responsible for IT and marketing with AFS Aviation Fuel Services & Management and categorizes the airports into three groups:
- Less than 50 operations per day
- 50 to 150 operations per day
- Greater than 150 operations per day
"As one of the German market leaders in aviation refuelling with service stations all over Germany," explains Grötzbach, "we are faced with the different needs regarding traffic and operation intensity. We manage service stations at small airports with up to 50 operations per day. They have requirements and constraints different from service stations between about 50 and 150 operations per day. The service stations with more then 150 ops — these are Frankfurt and Munich — manage their high administrative workload with a highly automated IT-solution."
To suit each need best, DVConvent has developed the FHSfamily for the fuel handling sector. Dr. Jens Hartmann, project manager DCo, explains the product structure: "We offer a range of FHS-modules, which fit perfectly together. This strategy enables an easy adjustment to the business size. Thus, our customers never work with products which have to be installed oversized in the beginning in the hope to fit in the future. Our IT-solutions grow with the needs."
ELECTRONIC FUEL ORDERS
With one of their customers, AFS has arranged the electronic fuel order. A data connection to the airline computer system had been established to replace the voice communication between Crew and Fuel Truck Agent. The fuel order is placed by the captain or a ground station. The order is received and processed by FHS and DispoWin into an operational order. The fuel milestones: Arrival of fuel truck, Start of fueling, and End of fueling are recorded together with the fuel data. An electronic delivery ticket is generated and sent to the aircraft. It can be signed electronically by the captain. Invoicing and accounting is realized by DCo Data Clearing Center.
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