Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AERFOR (Proactive Passenger Flow Management for Airports with an Advanced Forecasting System)
Reporting period: 2014-10-01 to 2015-02-28
However, the European airport industry is facing the following important challenges:
(1) Lack of predictability and adaptability – dynamic changes or deviations of passenger flows in airports require real-time forecasting and adaptive execution control with smart algorithms for context-aware information sharing and task planning as quickly as possible
(2) Lack of flexibility – airport complexity and dynamism demands responsive human-system interactions based on precise predictions to address efficient infrastructure utilization and resource planning at airport checkpoints
(3) Lack of service – airports require an increasing level of comfort to increase passenger satisfaction by making waiting and queuing time more predictable and thereby stimulating consumption in markets and shops
The performed AERFOR project addresses these important issues towards a more predictable, precise, flexible and proactive control of passenger flows: the ability to precisely and instantly forecast the passenger flow situation within the next hours inside airports can improve this situation and bring significant benefit to the European airport industry where current passenger flow planning is executed mainly manually or with simple spread-sheet tools. The benefits include lower costs, better working conditions and higher profitability through improved predictability and adaptability, higher flexibility and increased customer satisfaction.
During the last years the engineers at Amorph Systems developed the innovative software product AMORPH.aero. For airport operators AMORPH.aero continuously forecasts passenger flows for the period of the immediately following 24 hours in a rolling mode every 3 minutes, offering the ability to proactively control and optimize them. The system has been developed for the reference customer FRAPORT and is very successfully implemented in the large airport of Frankfurt since summer 2011. Because of the great success of AMORPH.aero at Frankfurt airport and very positive feedback from several big international airports, AMORPH.aero shall now be further developed to a standard software product and established successfully into the European and international market.
Therefore as a first step, during timeframe from October 2014 until February 2015, Amorph Systems conducted this feasibility study including a business plan for AMORPH.aero that clearly defines the conditions, strategy and measurements for the going-to-market and business development.
For reaching this goal a feasibility study including a business plan was developed that clearly defines the strategy and measurements to be taken to bring and establish AMORPH.aero to the European and international market successfully. This encompasses
A thorough market research on airports in Europe and worldwide was developed
The definition of a realistic business case under consideration of already existing leads was performed over the first 5 business years.
The definition of a future product and technology roadmap with a time horizon of 3 years and based on market requirements was performed
A realization plan was developed and the according financial planning was derived which give a detailed breakdown of the realization activities within the next 18 months
4 workshops with European airport industry participants (airports, suppliers) were performed and technical publications within the internet were published.
As an important point the feasibility study included an assessment in which other industry sectors the “Operational ForeCast Technology” (OFC-Technology) on which AMORPH.aero bases on and derived applications can be successfully transferred on a longer time perspective. Since the OFC-Technology can be used for forecasting any logistic system (e.g. production logistics, street traffic, railway traffic, ship traffic, buildings, public places) the future potential is considered as quite huge.
**Task 1: Market research on airports in Europe and worldwide
Main Results: As a first step within the feasibility study a market research on European and international airports took place. According to Airport Council International (Global Trade Representative Organisation of the world’s Airports), the worldwide market for AMORPH.aero is represented by about 1.800 commercial airports which are segmented into four Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4. These Tiers are differentiated by the number of passengers per year. There are about 230 airports bigger than 5 million passengers per year in Tear 1, 2 and 3. Part of the total market, that is especially interesting for AMORPH.aero is represented by the 50 largest airports worldwide each with more than 32 million passengers per year. At the same time, these all are practically HUBs with a high percentage of transit passengers. A further main outcome of the research performed was, that currently there are worldwide only a very few providers of professional IT-solutions and products for planning and forecasting passenger flows in airports. The planning systems of these competitors do not offer the possibility to calculate and provide of operational forecasts to the users in real time. It is however to be expected that other providers are to come on the market soon.
**Task 2: Definition of a realistic business case
Main Results: Within the performed feasibility study it became evident that using modern systems for the accurate forecasting and scheduling of passenger flows as well as their impacts on airport operation will become a more and more important competitive factor for airports to decrease operational cost despite of the increasing personnel costs and growing service quality requirements. Furthermore the study showed that the main challenge for airports is to continuously improve the service level for airport customers at the same time. An important area that must be intensively covered is the use of fast and accurate forecast methods and processes for the resource scheduling and planning at process points in airports. The timeframes especially important are the current shift, the actual day as well as the next day for the planning of personnel capacities and other airport resources.
**Task 3: Creation of a product and technology roadmap
Main Results: A midterm product and technology roadmap from 2015-2017 was developed for the AMORPH.aero software. In the roadmap the results of the performed market study were considered on the one hand taking into consideration the different airport classes. On the other hand the results of various interviews with airport experts were considered. The product roadmap covers features that are required by the airports to be more competitive and more effective in planning and controlling passenger flows. These identified features were sorted according to requirements priority as well as according to development efforts (e.g. stepwise from more simple to more complex functionalities). The technology roadmap goes along with required features and stepwise e.g. improve prediction accuracy and performance, i.e. topics directly related to the efficiency of simulation and optimization methods and algorithms. Furthermore the most modern IT technologies as e.g. Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud Services will be integrated.
**Task 4: Development of a realization plan
Main Results: Piloting, demonstration as well as marketing and sales activities will be strongly intensified for AMORPH.aero after financial funding will be obtained. Amorph Systems will then strengthen the business development that is necessary. Especially winning new pilot customers (like e.g. Airport Stuttgart, Airport Munich, etc.) will be one of the most important targets to be reached within a timeframe of the next year. Being able to fund these pilot activities would significantly increase the chances in winning additional pilot customers and will bring us in the position to realize successful projects with enough highly skilled resources. For strengthening sales, an experienced sales team in airport and airport logistics field shall be employed as soon as possible. This team should have very good professional knowledge (passenger flow control in airports) as well as a broad contact network to potential customers and business partners. Furthermore, efforts shall be spend in the areas of trade shows, announcements and advertising the AMORPH.aero product to push it into the market. From organizational point of view the area of Airport Solutions as well as Technology & Product Development shall be strengthened, in order be able to focus on customer demonstrations, pilot projects and customer projects as well as on the continuous development of technologies and functionalities of AMORPH.aero. Later on a support team shall be built up for performing necessary maintenance services, namely after the implementation of the first customer systems.
**Task 5: Carrying out workshops with European airport industry participants and publication of a technical paper
Main Results: As important part of the work performed, several meetings with potential customers have been held with valuable outcome regarding an overview of the different activities and future plans within the airport industry.
Meetings took place at different locations in Europe covering big hub airports like Berlin, mid-size but rapidly growing airports like Helsinki and smaller origin and destination (O&D) traffic oriented airports like Stuttgart. As a result from these meetings Amorph Systems learned that airports are at different points of internal improvements of their own facilities and technical infrastructure. For all of them the availability of qualitative and reliable data from airlines and the airport side used databases (AODB) are relevant steps to go forward with predictive solutions like AMORPH.aero. Indeed some airports (e.g. Munich) as industry leaders are already able to go ahead as they were focusing during the last years to improve their own data availability and consistency. Those are highly interested as especially at European airports infrastructure and facilities cannot be rapidly increased determined by the environment and surroundings.
**Task 6: Assessment of other industry sectors for application of the “Operational ForeCast Technology” (OFC-Technology)
Main Results: Furthermore an assessment of other industry sectors was made. As potential target sectors we identified beside airports the following 5 other branches of industries due to their logistic requirements and the resulting needs to optimize logistic flows of people and/or material:
1. People Flows inside buildings
2. People Flows inside on public places
3. Flow of products and materials inside complex production sites
4. Flow of vehicle traffic
5. Flow of ship traffic
During the performed project, in total 8 European and international studies (e.g. economic growth studies, future requirements studies, traffic trend studies) of the chosen industry sectors were analyzed. Especially for the area vehicle traffic and ship traffic useful data according to the development in Europe could be gained. Most difficult to analyze were the areas of people flow inside buildings and on public places. As a consequence for estimating the potential within this branches we took two studies that estimated the European development within the construction business. In the production sector we selected a study for the worldwide market for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) as base that gives a good overview of future production requirements, especially for complex production sites. Based on the analysis of the examined studies we defined 5 criterias that allow a rating of the potential for applying advanced planning and forecasting methods and algorithms. At the end it turned out that the areas of Ship Traffic Forecasting and Production Forecasting have the highest potential and should be examined further. Moderate potential we see for Vehicle Traffic Forecasting, too. Especially Railway Forecasting should be further evaluated since this promises the highest potential within this area.
As of now our reference customer FRAPORT has already achieved an increase of the maximum capacity of about 18% within the existing infrastructure to 64M passengers per year expected in 2015. By proactive management of the passenger flow the personal for the various control points and the personal cost could be reduced by about 20% by optimizing the resources. Queuing times have been reduced by 20 percent in average. Customer satisfaction increased by 15% at Frankfurt Airport. Therefore, the unique selling point of AMORPH.aero is the pro-active management of the passenger flow.
The relevance and rational for performing this innovation project was quite high for Amorph Systems since this project gave us the unique possibility to develop a thorough feasibility study and an according business plan that will be the base for all further measurements and will help us tremendously to reach our strategic targets, i.e. to bring our products and technologies successfully to the European and worldwide market.
We will take the following measures to to maximise impact
a) Dissemination and exploitation of results
The commercialization of the AMORPH.aero will be done by Amorph Systems with own resources as well as with partners. Focus will be set on the European airports first, but Middle East Airports have to be considered since they position themselves as international hubs as competitors to the European hubs.
Marketing efforts are concentrated of presenting AMORPH.aero on international fairs in Europe like Passenger Terminal Experience (PTE) as well as on international airport conferences mostly organized by ACI (Airport Council International), which Amorph Systems GmbH is already a member of. Webinars and social media are selected to publish new developments to the potential customers at Airports.
In order to overcome the deficiency of a small company the need for market development partnerships with established international airport IT providers like SITA, AMADEUS, INDRA or T-Systems might be a good choice to develop the market faster. With one company we already successfully signed a cooperation contract.
The next customer contracts beside Frankfurt Airport should be established within the upcoming year. As soon as AMORPH.aero has a second or third customer base in Europe or Middle East, the sales activities will be broadened to Asia and US preferred with an established international partner.
b) Intellectual Property, knowledge protection and regulatory issues
Amorph Systems has conducted a patent search (e.g. DEPATISnet, Google Patent Search) in the course of feasibility study preparation, in order to identify prior art in the area of prediction and forecast systems for operational planning, but no already existing relevant patents were found, neither in airport nor other industry sectors. To our knowledge and experience there are no regulatory requirements that must be fulfilled in order to successfully apply AMORPH.aero into airports operations.