End-to-end tracking is helping airports and airlines to reduce the cost of mishandled bags and to increase passenger satisfaction
One of the key trends for 2016 is to look at solutions that cover the end-to-end journey of a bag and how to make that journey more efficient and easier to administer. The convergence of technologies has seen the multiple systems used in the day-to-day operation of baggage handling move to a single data source baggage management solution.
We have seen this in the shift to standard technologies for baggage messaging, the adoption of permanent bag tags, and the ability to integrate with sortation and x-ray scanners. Despite concerted efforts by IATA and its member airlines, mishandled bags are still costing the aviation industry in excess of US$2.6bn every year. In addition, in June 2018, IATA’s Resolution 753, aimed at reducing the mishandled bag count even further, will become mandatory. Are we, as an industry, ready to consolidate and embrace these changes to gain real operational and performance benefits?
As well as satisfying obligations under Resolution 753, the global community (including airports, airlines and ground handlers) is now looking to IT software innovators to deliver end-to-end baggage management solutions, providing detailed baggage inventories with the ability to monitor, review and improve their operations, as well as enhance the overall passenger experience.
“Zafire’s FirstBag reconciliation system has been available for more than a decade,” explains Chris Beling, commercial director for Zafire Aviation. “During this time, and in line with industry needs, wants and future requirements, year-on-year improvements have been made, evolving FirstBag from a baggage reconciliation system into an end-to-end baggage management solution. “As a fully web-based solution designed to handle large-scale data volumes, FirstBag is unique and ahead of the game, ready for new messaging trends and the introduction of low-cost Android handheld scanner technology, making our solution freely available across the globe.”
Once the end-to-end process is established, and there is wider deployment of mobile devices for passenger use on flight, the demand to provide up-to-the minute baggage information, including alert triggers, carousel information, bag release information and the improved customer service experience for mishandled and repatriated bags, will inevitably increase.
Another innovative application that is set to take flight in 2016, FirstBag is a bag management and reconciliation application that can help to meet the needs of IATA’s Resolution 753 focuses on the ‘mobilization of load control’. Developed in partnership with Qantas and its IT solutions partner Zafire Aviation, this pioneering application is now being used in Qantas’s live environment and has improved the loading operation of an aircraft at the airport ramp. With real-time updates sent directly to the load manager and instant access to the latest information at all times – using a pictorial view of the load area – the manager simply clicks a button to clear the flight.
The saving on clearance time and accuracy of information is substantial, taking valuable minutes off the flight readiness time. This all happens using an Android or iOS device and invites the ramp manager to sign off the loading process electronically, making certain the final load is signed off safely and enabling the aircraft to leave on time – or earlier. Qantas’s goal was to guarantee the timely departure of the aircraft, but early indications suggest that the cargo doors are now closed much earlier than before, ensuring on-time or early departures that benefit everyone.
The application’s simplicity and effectiveness has had such a positive impact on operational performance that the solution is currently being rolled out across Qantas’s global network.