Barely sought, already found

The GSE 4.0 project offers end-to-end transparency for planning tools and equipment

You barely decide you need a tow bar when the search starts. The aprons and hangars at Lufthansa Technik are not exactly small, which means it can take some time to find the required tow bar or any other piece of ground support equipment (GSE). But those days are gone. This is because all GSE – in other words, tools and equipment with a drawbar or an ignition lock – can now be found immediately with the help of new location-tracking software. Apart from tow bars, this includes tractors, loaders, launchers, air-conditioning equipment, generators, ladders, catering and conveyor belt vehicles as well as work platforms and trailers. 

Lufthansa Technik began with a pilot project in VIP Maintenance in Hamburg in April 2017. Since then, the hardware and software have been installed, all the antennae are positioned on the hangar roofs, around 1,500 pieces of GSE have been networked and the system has gradually gone online. After examining other specific use cases, a pilot project was completed in A380 maintenance in Frankfurt, and the system has since been successfully rolled out at the locations in Munich and Frankfurt. Other users within the Lufthansa Group, such as Lufthansa Cargo, will follow soon.

GSE 4.0 supports location tracking anytime and anywhere, thus allowing all networked GSE to be located both in the outside areas and within the hangars. The availability of each individual piece of ground support equipment can be planned more effectively and fully transparently thanks to the fast location-tracking solution. In the second project phase, which started in early 2018, the condition of the equipment is now also examined after it has been located. If, for example, a battery-driven vehicle requires charging, or a diesel-powered ground power unit is out of fuel, a recharging/refueling service is ordered immediately.

GSE 4.0 is possible thanks to the use of appropriate hardware and software. Established hardware is used for tracking in the form of the tracker and gateway (antenna); the special visualization software, on the other hand, was custom-developed. All trackers are fitted with on-board sensors, which can be configured flexibly depending on requirements and the GSE and enhanced by existing external sensors, such as those used by motor vehicles (GPS). This means the system is not only able to display all relevant data, it can even be programmed to report independently by integrating and interconnecting existing sensors as well as adding external sensors. This enables the location and condition of the GSE to be determined.

The system can also be used on mobile devices so that all of this information can be retrieved anywhere and anytime for the GSE in question. Of course the system also works from stationary workplaces. Because the project can be applied to all the ground support equipment of the Lufthansa Group, all Lufthansa sites can benefit from GSE 4.0 and thus the new coordination of tools and equipment – and there is no longer any need to search laboriously for GSE or to stand around on the apron in cold, wet weather with a dead battery or an empty tank.