Adam Levy presenting at AAA National Conference, Australia

It was an exciting week in Canberra at Australia’s biggest annual aviation conference and exhibition, the Australian Airports Association National Conference. Participating in the event, ADB SAFEGATE exhibited solutions to optimize airport performance and get the best result for maximum value when working in airfield projects. On the final day of the conference, I spoke about what airport stakeholders can do to challenge their current procurement process in order to ensure that they end up with a solution that will address their current and future problems.

The conference provides a platform for the aviation industry to come together to share best practices and experiences, as well as to discuss challenges and opportunities faced by the airport sector and the aviation industry as a whole. The presentation was to over 150 airport stakeholders, including management, operations, maintenance, consultants, contractors and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The presentation was designed to highlight the risks and consequences involved with the current procurement process that are applicable to most airfield projects in Australia, and worldwide.

Now that technology is moving faster than ever, it is important for airports and consultants to educate themselves on what the market has to offer, and what is already in operation at the world’s leading airports. Airports and consultants need to have a more collaborative approach with the industry in order to find out what the most appropriate solution is to the operational problems that are triggering new infrastructure projects. With increased pressure on airports to maintain safety while competing for more traffic, they must understand that while they can avoid technology, they can’t avoid the consequences of not using technology to its fullest potential if they want to remain competitive.

Education really is the key. Airports must start looking beyond price to a system life cycle perspective, rather than a project life cycle point of view. This means taking the total cost of ownership into consideration when deciding on the requirements in the tender specifications. Otherwise, airports and contractors could find themselves saddled with solutions that don’t address the operational problems at their airport, and leave the tender open to suppliers who have a system that may appear to be the cheapest to start with, but that will result in being the contrary at the end of the system life cycle.

Airports can educate themselves by requesting information on the cost involved in maintaining and operating a particular system throughout its lifetime. By doing this, the main contractor can instead choose the option that will bring most value to the airport in 10, 15 and 20 years’ time. The potential consequences of the current procurement process is that the airport will be stuck with inefficient service and expensive spare parts with long lead times, that may leave critical systems out of order, becoming an ineffective asset or even worse, a safety risk for the airport operations.

Also addressed was silo operations being an obstacle when trying to get the best result for the maximum value. The audience was introduced to the case study from Gatwick Airport, which illustrates the savings involved when they invested in A-CDM and reached 55 movements/hour. They did this by having a more collaborative approach with integrated system support that enabled them to optimise their operations through data and information sharing among the critical stakeholders at the airport.

In Australia, there are new runways planned in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast over the next 5 years. Even if expansion of infrastructure is one option when attempting to meet future traffic demands, all airports will at some point need to start looking at what they can do in order to optimise the utilisation of their existing resources and infrastructure in a more sustainable manner.

ADB SAFEGATE is a leading provider of intelligent solutions that deliver superior airport performance from approach to departure. The company partners with airports and airlines to analyze their current setup and operations, identify bottlenecks, and jointly solve them using a consultative approach that enables airports to improve efficiency, enhance safety and environmental sustainability, and reduce operational costs. Our integrated portfolio includes solutions and services that harmonize airport performance, tackling every aspect of traffic handling and guidance, from approach, runway and taxiway lighting, to tower-based traffic control systems, and intelligent gate and docking automation. ADB Safegate has more than 900 employees in more than 20 countries and operates in more than 175 countries, serving more than 2,000 airports.