How Airports are Modernizing Power Infrastructure to Minimize Downtime

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In 2018, the top 20 busiest airports in the world experienced an average passenger growth rate of 5.2%. But passengers are just part of this growth picture. In fact, airport operations are also experiencing expansion across numerous airport subsystems such as baggage handling, aircraft maintenance, security areas, concourses, runways, parking lots, cargo terminal operators, fuel depots, retail shops, restaurants, and cleaning services. All of these diverse systems share one common critical background infrastructure: power.

Without power, the daily interactions between thousands of airport staff, travelers, service providers and visitors are disrupted. When faced with not knowing what’s happening, airlines lose money and people can start to panic. At Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for example, a recent power outage cost Delta Air Lines alone an estimated $25 to $50 million. Improved airport power reliability and availability can help address this downtime issue.

Companies like Schneider Electric are uniquely positioned to support airports seeking to accommodate airport expansions and infrastructure technology upgrades. In fact, a number of major airports have recently engaged with Schneider Electric to help boost power infrastructure modernization initiatives.

Canadian airport expansion plans focus on long term growth

One Canadian airport that hosts 16.3 million passengers a year, for example, and which is experiencing a 6% increase in passenger traffic, launched an expansion project that included a new runway and terminal, 24 new aircraft gates, 50 new shops and services, and a new state of the art baggage system. Airport executives wanted to execute these goals with limited risk and fast execution.

However, airport facilities staff had to overcome a number of challenges in order to integrate the power infrastructure capacity needed to accommodate future long-term growth. They required a more proactive approach for managing their electrical system, desired more awareness of the condition of their assets, and needed increased power system reliability.

Proposal and power systems implementation address modernization issues

As part of their overall modernization project, airport officials requested that Schneider Electric propose new ways to modernize the airport’s electrical distribution system. As a first step, Schneider Electric power experts performed an audit of the heterogeneous architecture, and then submitted recommendations for evolving the system to a more homogenous, open, and up-to-date platform.

In laying out a solution, technologies were recommended and selected that aligned with a number of the airport’s key objectives:

  • Visibility to power data – In order to drive better power-related business decisions, Schneider Electric Power Monitoring Expert (PME) tools are now used for data aggregation and centralized tracking of real-time power conditions. These tools allow for detailed analysis of power quality and power network reliability so that issues can be quickly identified, isolated and resolved.
  • Reduction in energy cost and consumption– New PME tools also help to pinpoint energy waste, monitor energy consumption and verify utility bill accuracy. They also allocate energy costs to departments to drive awareness and accountability, as well as reduce peak demand surcharges. By procuring and processing detailed energy data, the airport can also cast itself in a positive light with surrounding communities through the publication of tangible, data driven sustainability and CO2 reduction reporting.
  • Mitigating downtime risk – By proposing a multi-year services recurring contract, Schneider Electric both helped the airport to formulate a 10-year maintenance primary plan and provided a more proactive approach to managing electrical distribution equipment (such as switchgear, load break switches, switchboards, meters, Uninterruptible Power Supplies, Programmable Logic Controllers and Human Machine Interfaces). New diagnostics tools such as EcoStruxure™ Asset Advisor and EcoStruxure Power Advisor were proposed to help anticipate and address issues before they become critical incidents, mitigating safety risks, avoiding unplanned downtime, operational losses and expensive maintenance interventions.

To learn more about how Schneider Electric digitized power distribution solutions can help to allow aerospace industry modernization and expansion, visit our EcoStruxure Power web site.

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