Planning for Airport Infrastructure Success

Posted: 25 October 2017 | | No comments yet

A successful airport infrastructure project can be an economic boon for a region. Likewise, a failure can create a blackhole into which cash is poured, never to be seen again. Tony Fulton of Oracle talks exclusively to International Airport Review about how mistakes that lead to chaos can be mitigated with cloud technology.


NARROW STRAITS: with millions often riding on an infrastructure project, failure can be devastating

Around the world, airports are increasingly seen as a catalyst for economic growth. The significance of these vital, but often costly infrastructure projects is reflected in the approximately £458 billion that is dedicated to capital investments for airport infrastructure projects globally, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation. At the same time, infrastructure resources generally are scarce, and governments are challenged in making decisions about how best to commit limited funds. This tension between need and resource necessitates an approach to managing large infrastructure projects, such as airport initiatives, that minimises waste and drives efficiency into planning and delivery processes. 

A carefully planned and well-managed airport project can be an economic boon for a region or country, often becoming a key pillar in creating a robust economy. However, poor project execution has the potential to derail future airport investments and result in losses of millions of pounds per day.

Given the complexity and breadth of stakeholders, for airport construction projects to be successful all aspects of the planning, investment, construction and maintenance must be carefully coordinated. While that can be a tall order, the project collaboration and data sharing potential arising from cloud technology offers new efficiencies government entities and their many project stakeholders can leverage to plan and deliver successful airport infrastructure projects.

Lifecycle Management Approach and Cloud Technology

An airport’s lifecycle can span decades, and numerous variables can impact any airport infrastructure project along the way. These potential variables range from the macroeconomic climate, which can affect project funding and airport project progress, to micro factors such as common construction project delays arising from scope changes, poor planning, inadequate coordination, and the like. These common project challenges can be mitigated or eliminated, though, with technology. Cloud solutions especially can transform capital planning and project execution by centralising data management and enabling access and true project collaboration across participants. Such collaboration improves management of project documents, enables broad visibility into data and activities, and drives coordination across key stakeholders and inter-related projects.

According to McKinsey research on large capital projects, more efficient project delivery can generate savings of as much as 25 per cent on new projects, or 15 per cent savings on total infrastructure investment. The savings stem in large part from efficiency gains in approvals, engineering, procurement, and construction.

Here are some of the ways airport project efficiencies can be improved with the right technology. Cloud technology can:

  • Facilitate effective planning and compliance requirements from the onset of a project and provide the ability to detect and address any problems that may arise throughout the airport’s lifecycle.
  • Ensure operational productivity for maximum ROI by helping to identify opportunities, and then evaluating these against strategic objectives in the planning phase of airport construction or expansion. It can also provide insights into which investments to make, how to prioritise their delivery against competing projects, and how best to navigate the constraints of existing budgets and legacy assets.
  • Enable maintenance and operational success by quickly prioritising and rationalising programmes, projects, applications and overall portfolios. The ability to access and manage maintenance schedules, dispatch resources and provide the necessary materials needed to the get the job done – at any time – is essential to project success.
  • Help with more effective facilities and retail management – a common challenge in modern airports – by easily identifying and allocating space as needed, and tracking related contracts and payments. A large portion of airport revenue is generated from the many shops, bars and restaurants that are available to travellers throughout the world.

Numerous stakeholders in airport projects, including owners, government, regulators, airlines, and financiers, require complete transparency into the project. But in many cases, critical data is not easily accessible or is trapped in silos, which limits organisations’ visibility and ability to take action. Cloud technology enables the data management and analysis needed for key stakeholders to not only have a holistic view of all facets of the airport project, but also clear picture of how capital is being spent. This visibility helps current projects stay on track, and as such helps to win and maintain support for future long-term projects.

In addition, projects must contemplate the regulations that are associated with airport infrastructure.  For example, in the UK and elsewhere, the New Engineering Contract (NEC) standard is being applied to provide full transparency in tendering, contract administration, and dispute resolution. Any systems implemented to manage the construction of an airport must be wholly aligned and track to the change management processes outlined in NECTechnology can effectively manage the NEC requirements because it can track and control documentation, manage correspondence and transaction records, and coordinate activities across key stakeholders and inter-related projects. Again, cloud solutions offer ways to address these issues that are inexpensive to implement and maintain, scalable, and accelerate time to value vs. on-premise solutions.

Cloud Technology Takes Off                           

As governments and other travel and transportation organisations continue to invest in airport infrastructure, the ability to select and deliver projects that meet strategic requirements and produce ROI over an entire airport lifecycle is imperative. By finding the right technology, investors, owners, operators, and project teams can gain full visibility into the entire lifecycle of their airport infrastructure project – and position themselves for airport project success. At the same time, failing to manage such projects properly not only leads to cost and schedule overruns of each individual project but can have a negative impact on stakeholder reputations as well as limit the economic growth of an entire region.

Tony Fulton is the Director of the Industry Strategy, Construction and Engineering Global Business Unit at Oracle. Oracle created the world’s first autonomous database cloud.

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