Improving Airport Working Conditions with IoT

March 10, 2020

While IoT can improve the air travel experience for passengers, the technology can be a boon to airline employees as well.

Smart Watches for Restroom Cleanliness

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG) Airport has given employees smart watches to stay on top of bathroom cleanliness. Sensors placed in restrooms count the number of people entering and sends alerts to staff when a certain threshold is reached. This allows the staff to respond in real time to the specific needs of each bathroom rather than cleaning on a set schedule that doesn’t account for foot traffic. The staff also don’t waste time cleaning bathrooms that may have had few visitors.

One benefit of the sensors CVG discovered was the restrooms the airport thought were the busiest actually weren’t. Without the use of IoT, management never would have recognized the attention those other restrooms needed. The airport also found watches a better alternative to tablets or radios for delivering alerts. And with connected data, when employees responded to alerts, management always had information on what alerts were being addressed.

Wireless Ear Sets for Better Communication

A Japanese carrier, All Nippon Airways, is testing Bluetooth communication devices. Flight attendants wear the device in one ear and can easily communicate with each other across the plane. Traditional interphones can’t pinpoint specific crew members and attendants must be at the box in order to accept the call. With ear devices, the call can be directed to the exact crew member needed and attendants can call and receive from anywhere on the plane, allowing for more efficient service.

Exoskeletons for Worker Safety

Delta Airlines is currently testing exoskeletons for employees in roles that regularly require heavy lifting. This may include heavy objects such as warehouse freight, technical maintenance components or ground support machinery. The exoskeletons are reported to allow wearers to lift up to 200 pounds repeatedly for up to eight hours without strain or fatigue. These suits could improve worker safety and allow Delta to diversify their workforce in roles usually restricted to the physically strong.

Augmented Reality for Greater Efficiency

Helsinki Airport in Finland is testing augmented reality for control centers. A control operator can view a physical replica of the airport and, while wearing special glasses, gain important data. The data in this form is easier to navigate than a traditional wall of computer screens. High traffic areas light up in red, and the control operator can pinpoint that area to view specific data and deploy personnel. The software can also learn from historical data and suggest actions to perform. This aids in more efficient operations.

Singapore Changi Airport is testing augmented reality glasses for ground staff. While handling cargo, the glasses display information such as contents, weight, unit number and loading position. The technology allows staff to work hands free, without the need for documents or tablets. Also, staff can easily connect to air control and gain assistance on any issues that arise. These benefits improve safety and efficiency.

Virtual Reality for Safe Training

Virtual reality (VR) – where viewers are placed in a completely computer-generated environment – is gaining popularity in training situations. American Airlines trains its flight crews with VR, and Baltic Group Services trains ground handling operators. Normally, aircraft personnel would train on the job. But VR allows for an isolated environment where workers can be focused and not fear making mistakes. Training exercises can also be repeated or tailored to the needs of individual workers. And emergency training can be carried out that might be too dangerous or difficult to simulate in real life. Once their virtual training is complete, workers can operate safely and efficiently in real world situations.