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We have been able to not only ensure EU regulatory compliance but also greatly enhance our customer service and operational efficiency, something we are very proud of.

Birger Post, Station Manager-Falck, Copenhagen Airport's PRM provider
Published
25 September 2012
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SITA WorkBridge technology has helped to transform PRM assistance at one of Europe’s busiest international airports, delivering enhanced services and improved operational efficiency. The technology has further helped the airport’s PRM provider Falck achieve EU compliance and enjoy better passenger support operations through use of mobile workforce technology.

Assisting passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) around a busy airport is no small challenge. Airports are busy, thriving environments which play host to thousands of passengers every day and as such they can be a challenging place to a passenger with physical or mental disabilities. Passengers with reduced mobility can be sight or hearing impaired, physically incapacitated or mentally handicapped and the term also applies to older travelers. The group includes any passenger whose situation requires support with accessing the airport services available to able-bodied passengers.

Today, Europe’s airports are tasked with delivering comprehensive services which address the needs of PRM. Historically, airlines transporting travelers were themselves responsible for PRM management but in 2008 the process changed. EU regulation 1107/2006 transferred responsibility from airlines to the airports themselves, meaning airports must now deliver PRM services which meet compliance targets and give requisite quality of service to users.

Passenger assistance services at Copenhagen Airport

With 22 million passengers a year, Copenhagen Airport is one of the busiest airports in Europe. A large number of passengers who need assistance pass through its three terminals each year. In order to better serve passengers and also comply with EU regulations, Kastrup (Copenhagen Airport)  outsourced PRM operational support to Falck, a company with a track record in patient transport and the leading operator of private ambulances in Denmark.

On behalf of Copenhagen Airports, Falck offers PRM services such as central assistance center, call points, wheelchair accessible toilets, PRM car parking and lifts between rail platforms and airport floors. The EU compliance project would be the first of its kind for Falck and the best way
forward was determined to be a mobile workforce tool which could integrate seamlessly with existing processes.

“EU regulatory compliance is very important to us and we pride ourselves on the quality of service we give to all passengers. As such, we are keen to work with a partner who could choose and implement a best of breed technology system to enhance PRM assistance, maximize resources and not disrupt daily airport operations. Our PRM services partner Falck selected the SITA WorkBridge technology which could be easily integrated on top of our existing processes and which could deliver all the benefits we required," comments Hanne Frederiksen, Project and Operations Coordinator at Copenhagen Airport.

Mobility, adaptability, flexibility

Falck needed to adapt existing passenger management operations to address PRM needs in a large, busy airport while not retaining additional resources. Falck has around 40 passenger assistance agents on duty in Copenhagen Airport at any given moment and needed to help these staff service dozens of PRM arrivals every day.

“We decided that agility was going to be key to what we wanted to do, and that required a mobile workforce approach,” states Torben Ruberg, Group CIO and Head of Falck IT. “We can have large groups of PRM travelling together, the passengers can have various disabilities requiring different levels of planning and resource allocation. Assisting a wheelchair-bound or disabled passenger from check-in to departure gate takes longer than escorting a visually-impaired traveler for example.”

Since PRM have varying service requirements, Falck needed a solution which could get information to on the ground staff quickly and effectively. Falck PRM staff must be able to respond quickly to changes of departure gate, unscheduled delays, late notice alterations, varying modes of transport to the airport and airport maintenance issues – all elements which affect a PRM’s ability to get around the airport efficiently.

Although Falck had extensive experience in managing the workflows of mobile staff – many of which are ambulance drivers, for instance – its existing scheduling platform was unsuitable for use in an airport environment.

“Our specifications and internal evaluation implied that we needed a workforce system which could receive PRM bookings and orders, plan workflow, allocate resources and manage changes effectively. This meant a way of assigning tasks to PRM agents in real-time and that in turn meant mobile devices and a well-organized dispatch process," continued Torben Ruberg. “It seemed that a mobile workforce management set-up would let us minimize the distance traveled by our PRM agents while maximizing both information management and the number of PRMs we were able to assist each day.”

Engaging with an expert

SITA WorkBridge emerged as the supplier of choice for Falck. It had the experience of implementing a similar PRM management system at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

“We recognized straight away that Falck required us to deliver a product which could quickly and easily communicate information - and most importantly last-minute changes – to staff on the ground assisting the airport’s passengers with reduced mobility," says Klaus Bech, Senior Manager of Solution Design at SITA WorkBridge. “Our experience with Paris CDG Airport meant that we could quickly understand their needs and specify the right technology which would allow them to enjoy enhanced mobile workforce capabilities which hit the appropriate KPIs.”

The SITA WorkBridge product would allow Falck staff to take advance orders from airlines and allocate resources up to three days ahead of a PRM arriving at Kastrup Airport.

“Our resource management system and PRM modules allow companies like Falck to really focus resources to where they are needed most,” continues Klaus Bech. “Today we are able to help companies plan, prepare, highlight critical transfers, prioritize and stay ahead of the game. The system is designed to transmit things like departure gate changes automatically to the agent’s mobile device.”

Enabling the Falck workforce, helping passengers

SITA WorkBridge specified its resource management system as the right technology to address Falck's needs at Copenhagen. The technology could be configured to explicitly address Falck’s requirements, offering the ability to communicate regular, accurate status reports to the airport through a dedicated, end-to-end mobile workforce management system.

By working with SITA WorkBridge, Falck was able to enter the complete, end to end PRM management system into production within 3 months of the agreement being signed. The result is a powerful tool which combines real-time planning with instant data delivery to handheld devices to keep agents informed of the latest updates.

The system has helped to make Falck’s Copenhagen PRM operation a more streamlined and automated process which is simpler for all involved. The system automatically generates work orders and tasks upon receipt of service requests from airline Passenger Assistance Lists and Change of Assistance Lists. Dispatchers are able to quickly and easily communicate these tasks direct to the PRM agents on the airport floor, wherever in the building they are. As a result, Falck resources are maximized.

“The ability to be flexible and agile has been the key to us maximizing resource use and serving PRM better,” says Birger Post, Station Manager at Falck. “The new SITA WorkBridge system we have put in place allows us to plan and account for all types and volume of passengers, well in advance.”

The SITA WorkBridge system contains an optimized scheduling and dispatching capability, which monitors resource availability, PRM location, flight details and agent details, allowing dispatchers to allocate tasks and resources as effectively as possible.

To help complete the resource management system suite, Falck sourced and purchased a stock of Motorola M70 devices. This allowed all tasks and changes to be communicated directly to agents’ handsets, meaning PRM assistance agents could now receive the very latest changes and data from dispatch on a real-time basis – saving them further time and effort. All data sent to PRM agents is time stamped to allow Falck to map service levels given to the airport and the full resource management system allowed Falck to give Copenhagen Airport a greatly enhanced quality of service.

An enhanced, EU compliant PRM operation

Through working with SITA WorkBridge, Falck has been able to transform its PRM assistance service at Copenhagen Airport. Dispatchers can now be highly organized with the data and changes they must communicate to agents, while Falck agents on the floor are able to deliver PRM assistance in a structured, timely manner.

“There is a real pleasure in being able to have Falck staff waiting for passengers with reduced mobility outside the airport, at the arrivals gate or on the train platform," continues Birger Post. “We have been able to not only ensure EU regulatory compliance but also greatly enhance our customer service and operational efficiency, something we are very proud of.”

The SITA WorkBridge engagement has allowed Falck to increase overall quality of service and improve billing accuracy. Falck has received visits from EU inspectors since launching its enhanced PRM management operation and  has met Copenhagen Airport customer service targets. In addition, Falck has achieved ISo9001 certification for "Service for passengers with reduced mobility."

“The SITA WorkBridge system has given us higher utilization of our workforce, meaning we can give better service using fewer resources. Getting the right information into the hands of our people quickly has helped us offer passengers with reduced mobility an exponentially better service,” concludes Birger Post. “The PRM we serve can now be confident that their needs when traveling through Copenhagen Airport are managed professionally and efficiently.”

Key highlights

  • EU compliant PRM system delivered according to strict timetable.
  • Maximized resource usage through flexible mobile workforce.
  • SITA WorkBridge PRM technology quickly integrated into legacy systems and processes.
  • Enhanced PRM planning and task allocation capabilities.
  • Scalable system able to adapt and change according to demand.
  • Automatic processing of work orders from Type-B messages direct from reservation systems, including PSM, PAl and CAl formats.

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