Monique Hurley, iOPS product manager at JBT AeroTech, explains how telematics is becoming the ultimate solution for cargo handlers, commercial aviation gate managers, and ground support personnel.

The need to keep up with growing demand and the increasingly competitive landscape has led many airlines and cargo handlers to invest in new technology to make ramp and airport operations safer and more cost-effective. Now, with demand for air freight increased and passenger airlines returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, many teams have adopted telematics solutions to relieve the pressure of managing more with fewer resources. During the pandemic, there was a quiet, yet consistent, expansion of connected fleet solutions for ground handling, cargo handling, and gate management. Over the past few years, JBT AeroTech has supported customers in this journey, by connecting their ground support equipment (GSE) and gate equipment to iOPS and an in-house telematics software solution. This full-fleet solution includes GSE equipment (loaders, tractors, and de-icers), gate systems equipment (boarding bridges, pre-conditioned air units and ground power units), and the option to connect non-JBT AeroTech manufactured equipment for a robust view of fleet operations.


Monique Hurley, JBT AeroTech

Monique Hurley is iOPS product manager at JBT Aerotech

What is telematics?

The average telematics software is intended for fleet managers, gate managers, and operations management of all types and provides them with a real-time view of things like GSE geo-location, engine diagnostics, driver behaviour, operator practices, faults, and conformance to company KPIs. Some solutions may target airport and operations managers, providing tools for predicting maintenance, resolving equipment issues remotely, or optimising engine and operator performance. Other capabilities include access control, geo-fencing, speed controls, and fault indications – all tools that enable managers to guide operations and equipment usage towards greener, safer, more efficient practices.

JBT AeroTech Loader iOPS Tracking

Modular by design, iOPS transforms data into actionable information

The value of telematics lies in its ability to provide us with descriptive information

All telematics begin with sensors integrated into equipment in the field. These sensors are attached to a small computer that is connected to the internet and is constantly communicating data back for teams to see. The telematics software collects this data and presents it to the user in the form of an event. These events represent real data on what is actually happening.

The data collected can range from voltage readings on sub-components to tracking inspection task performance across the entire concourse. The iOPS platform provides comprehensive insight by tracking a variety of events from equipment engine failure to temperature readings on a passenger boarding bridge, for a single gate or an entire terminal. The data can be configured for many different audiences and provides an expert perspective on the equipment health and operations efficiency.


Its inherent value

The value of telematics lies in its ability to provide us with descriptive information on these events and to effectively help us react. In our experience, fleet management users of iOPS have used this data to optimise turnaround time, reduce costs, and maximise in-service time. They have also used it to investigate repairs, shut down aircraft auxiliary power units (APUs) sooner, deploy personnel more efficiently, improve safe ramp practices, and more. For many of our users, the remote visibility gives them real-time access to the state of their devices, without adding unnecessary paperwork for their teams on the ramp. Through fleet awareness and instant visibility alone, the value of the technology and the information and guidance it provides easily outweigh the cost of gathering the data. Furthermore, with telematics automation, the information is readily available, a significant improvement on the attempts to manually gather such data in the past.

iOPs on screen

Real-time visibility provides users with an additional layer of reassurance

Prediction: better than reaction

With the simple addition of real-time data, fleet managers benefit almost immediately from an increased reaction time. For many users, this awareness is like having added insurance on the ramp. When a device goes down or an emergency happens, they can make more informed decisions and resolve these issues faster. Many fleet managers have already embraced simple telematics software, but more recently the advancement of technology has steered market leaders into selecting software that provides expert recommendations and predictions. With simple systems, fleet managers can see the location and status of their assets. With advanced systems, the insight shifts to what happened and why. In advanced telematics, fleet managers will see recommended actions they can take for resolution and tools to investigate why an event happened. Some of the newest solutions will review historical events and automatically produce insight reports on fleet performance. This helps teams identify the causes of different events and can help them intervene before issues escalate or even arise.

Telematics optimises reaction speed, while iOPS optimises reaction quality

To produce trustworthy results, expert knowledge and long-term support are paramount. For example, to know that a device requires maintenance, the system must know what telematic readings indicate there is an issue arising and what activity would mitigate that issue. Throughout a machine’s life, this information can be revised multiple times. This ever-changing landscape requires a solution that provides quality support and expertise at its backbone. Many new or simple solutions fail to account for this or never expect to accommodate it at all. The iOPS telematics system aims to deliver both real-time monitoring and expert insight to optimise operations and maintenance. Telematics optimises reaction speed, while iOPS optimises reaction quality.


Better in the long term

To make sure that the solution you choose can provide quality insight that scales with the needs of your work force, there are a few questions you can ask. The following questions from Gartner can help teams estimate a software’s maturity and the level of analytical insight it offers. The questions increase in complexity and in the value they can deliver to users. As you move from the first question to the last, the workload of solving any problem is offloaded onto the software, saving time for its users. Can this solution tell me: what is happening; why something happened; what will happen; and how I can make something happen?

Some telematics solutions will successfully complete the first level by providing a real-time view into data that shows you what is happening. With the second level, why something happened, expert knowledge is built-in to help you interpret what the data means.  

iOPS on mobile

iOPS’ widget design enables customisation

The power of a well-crafted telematics system is unmatched in the hands of management, technicians, and operators. With iOPS telematics, raw data is transformed into information, and from information to understanding. This system is built on the JBT AeroTech commitment to customer success. The tools offered bring insight to managers by tracking airside crew performance, correlating and condensing operational histories, understanding performance/equipment-based failures, and revealing a path to correction. With in-depth and continuous data collection, users can review years of data, helping them solve the problems of today and illuminate what is on the horizon.

Looking to the future

To provide long-term customer success, the iOPS solution is built to be adaptable and support equipment throughout its lifetime. As the market approaches a shift in expertise, fuel sources and safety standards, we have defined multiple pathways to navigate these hurdles and provide a comprehensive picture of any fleet. For new electric deployments, like the AmpCart, we are delivering battery health and charger analytics, by measuring efficiency over time. For non-AeroTech equipment, we have options for connecting into these hybrid fleets, where operations data is collected to provide a holistic fleet analysis. For older assets, we offer upgrades to refurbish or customise GSE equipment.