Airports want to upgrade their gate technology, but may struggle to find the necessary power capacity. According to ITW GSE, interlinking individual ground support units can unleash up to 50% surplus power.

For almost as long as aircraft have been flying, auxiliary equipment has been used to provide critical services on the ground and, until now, ground support equipment (GSE) has been treated as individual units. Today’s airports want to modernise and enhance their gate capabilities, but may find their options limited by existing power infrastructure.

Accommodating airport needs, ITW GSE has launched a set of technologies that enables individual ground support units such as ground power units (GPUs),pre-conditioned air units (PCAs), charging stations and even aircraft detection systems to allwork together. Known as EcoGate, the solution was developed to help airports achieve efficiencies that can only be realised by linking gate equipment into an integrated, intelligent system.

More than power management

The ITW GSE 3500 PCA is the beating heart of the system, hosting the company’s Intelligent Power Management (IPM) solution. With this central EcoGate technology, all ITW GSE equipment can be powered from a single power line running from the gate’s power supply to the 3500 PCA. From there, IPM allocates power dynamically to the different units – always prioritising the needs of GPUs, while ensuring that total power capacity is not exceeded. By managing power allocation in this way, EcoGate enables airports to upgrade or add new gate equipment without having to install costly new power infrastructure.

Airports are interested in upgrading their gate technology, but often face constraints due to limited power capacity and high costs

Bo Vork Nielsen, ITW GSE
Bo Vork Nielsen_ITW GSE

Bo Vork Nielsen, division director, R&D, ITW GSE


Bo Vork Nielsen, division director, R&D, at ITW GSE, explained: “Airports are interested in upgrading their gate technology, but often face constraints due to limited power capacity and high costs associated with installing new infrastructure. Typical GPUs, PCAs and similar units are designed to handle peak loads, which results in 35-50% excess capacity on average.

“With the implementation of IPM, EcoGate can effectively use this surplus capacity to power additional equipment, or upgrade with more, while prioritising the needs of GPUs and ensuring that the total power consumption does not exceed a predetermined limit.”

Beyond Intelligent Power Management, EcoGate integrates functionality as diverse as automated aircraft type detection and the management of charging stations for battery-powered equipment into a unified system. Integrating these technologies ensures an easier learning curve for operators, less risk of human error, lower installation costs and carbon footprint reductions via further electrification – in addition to the smarter use of available power.

ITW GSE 2400 with ITW GSE 3500 PCA

The ITW GSE 2400 ground power unit with the ITW GSE 3500 pre-conditioned air unit


Not just individual units

ITW GSE is in the process of launching a new 3500 Air Coil and ground-breaking hose technology to play a major role in the efficiency of the PCA hose handling.

The ITW GSE 3500 Air Coil is an automatic PCA hose management system designed to make hose handling easy and effective while also protecting the hose. It can be operated via the 3500 PCA control panel, ensuring easy, straightforward installation. The unit control is integrated in the PCA connector with wireless, battery-free communication ensuring safe single-person operation.  

To maximise the efficiency of the 3500 PCA, the Air Coil is equipped with two new ITW GSE Super Hoses. Being highly insulated and designed to prevent kinks, the hoses ensure the right flow and pressure while reducing temperature losses to the aircraft. And this is what EcoGate is all about – looking at ground support equipment as a system instead of individual units, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Jesper Nielsen, product manager, ITW GSE, said: “Preventing air loss from the PCA hose drastically improves the efficiency of not only the PCA, but your entire system. If you do not lose air in the hose, you use less power from the main supply. And in an EcoGate system, this excess power can be allocated to other units that need it more, or even to charge an eGPU.”

David Feuga_ITW GSE

David Feuga, global sales director, ITW GSE


Tomorrow’s airport terminal

For now, the technologies behind EcoGate include Intelligent Power Management, stepless regulation via variable frequency drive (VFD) technologies, and automated aircraft type detection using visual docking guidance systems (VDGS) or building management solutions. Working together, these technologies transform existing airport gates into modern systems while future-proofing new facilities right from the beginning. And lately, ITW GSE is even enabling power sharing between units.

The ITW GSE Power Share is one of the newest additions of EcoGate enabled products. Since most gates are designed to generate more power than is required to meet the aircraft’s needs, the Power Share technology ensures that the excess power from the grid can be used for other applications and distributed efficiently to AC-powered equipment,DC chargers or eGPU.

The overriding trends in the aviation industry today include improving the efficiency of all operations

David Feuga, ITW GSE

Looking ahead, ITW GSE plans to expand its offering of EcoGate enabled technologies and units to help airports control power infrastructure costs, improve efficiency, accelerate turnarounds and reduce complexity for GSE operators.

ITW GSE global sales director David Feuga told Airports International: “The overriding trends in the aviation industry today include improving the efficiency of all operations, controlling the cost of technological advances, continued electrification of airport equipment, intelligent control of various systems and ensuring power security.

“EcoGate is right at the centre of these trends, using sophisticated technology to enable improvements while lowering costs. That is why we speak of ‘advancing gate economics’ when we talk about EcoGate at ITW GSE.”


ITW GSE plans to launch additional EcoGate enabled technologies and units

EcoGate at a glance

What it is

A new approach to gate installations that links GSE units together as an intelligent, high-efficiency system

Why you need it

On existing gates: it allows you to make improvements without adding power or other basic infrastructure

On new gates: it minimises installation costs and complexity and future-proofs the gate design

What it does

EcoGate makes sure your GPU and other units always have the power they need without overloading your total power supply. A feature in the 3500 PCA optimises the supply of fresh air by detecting the exact aircraft type – not just category – as it approaches the gate

  • In some circumstances, EcoGate even frees up power for other projects that may need it
  • EcoGate helps airports and airlines reduce their carbon footprint by facilitating GSE electrification
The EcoGate difference diagram

EcoGate is about looking at ground support equipment as a system instead of individual units


ITW GSE is a supplier of ground power units, pre-conditioned air units, cables and hoses, with roots stretching back nearly 100 years. From single-gate to complete-airport installations, the company’s premium solutions are tailored to exact individual needs.

Based in Odense in Denmark and Palmetto, Florida, ITW GSE also has offices in the UAE and Singapore. ITW GSE is part of Illinois Tools Works (ITW), a Fortune 500 corporation and a diversified manufacturer of advanced industrial technology with 82 business divisions across 52 countries, employing some 46,000 people worldwide.