The Future Shape of Maintenance: ARINC

Part of the solution comes from adept implementation of common-use IT systems that support multiple airlines.

Vancouver simply expanded AMS's role into a comprehensive service and support contract that encompasses the entire airport's operating functions, including CCTV monitoring, access control, baggage, the terminal Management System (TMS), the noise monitoring, and many other systems even the airport's corporate computing. In addition to the AMS technical team at Vancouver, ARINC's 24/7 call centre provides proactive service-level monitoring as well as responsive dispatch of technical support.

This move embodies a strategy Zivkovic calls "smart outsourcing". It involves analysing the airport's needs and then outsourcing those maintenance, service and support functions that will be better servedby a qualified outside provider like AMS.

"We figured out that at this level of our growth, AMS was a good fit for our in-house IT organisation to support our service-level agreements with our airlines and other tenants," said Zivkovic. "We outsourced the front-end IT support and operational maintenance of our systems--CUSS, FIDS, gates, etc --to AMS. We retained the management part of the structure - maintenance and support of the back end of the systems, such as networking, data centres, head-end systems, servers and overall management--with our in-house IT group.

Jim Martin, Senior Director of AMS, believes Vancouver's move to integrate all of its maintenance services under a single provider signals the start of a trend in the industry.

"By outsourcing the maintenance of these IT-based systems, an airport can go from 20 or more different outside maintenance services to having just one, with an integrated approach," said Martin. At Vancouver, AMS went from supporting three systems to more than 50.

Vancouver has realised a number of benefits from outsourcing to AMS. The major gain has been a significant enhancement in customer service--the customers being the airlines that lease facilities and use the many common-use systems there. And passengers receive better service as a direct result of this improvement.

Another benefit has been a reduction in the total cost of ownership for all support services: not only does reduced downtime save moneyin the operations sphere; it is also cheaper to have a single provider doing all the Level 1 maintenance. Airports follow different models for maintenance support. Some outsource everything, others have 100% in-house service support; and most, like Vancouver, fall somewhere in the middle.

While virtually every airport has a master plan, the majority nevertheless have incorporated technological advances by adding services or systems as needed: the maintenance support would come with them, often from the system provider. Outsourcing operations and maintenanceservice to a single provider begins to look like the preferred solution when another critical aspect of the airport industry is factored in: the tremendously diversified nature of each airport's business. An airport is effectively a city with many types of corporations operating within it: financial services, retail, terminal operations, security, civil aviation services, UPS, FedEx, parking companies--often 12 to 15 corporations with different core businesses.

Airport authorities have to manage this extremely complex mix: their job is to put all those businesses under one hat in what amounts to a massive integration task.

And because each airport is different from the next, there are no off-the-shelf, large-scale service outsourcing packages that can be used as plug-in solutions. Like the individual airport's management integration approach, this must also be created especially for that facility, through a carefully thought out one-of-a-kind service support approach.

Vancouver's example indicates that this may be best achieved through large-scale outsourcing of operations and maintenance services. Asat Vancouver, AMS can help airports create an effective service model for their unique operational needs by offering them the kind of flexibility that outsourcing delivers.

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