Heathrow Airport is known the world over as the U.K.’s premier international airport and also Europe’s busiest international airport. Some 80 airlines fly from Heathrow direct to over 180 destinations worldwide, carrying on average around 200,000 passengers per day into and out of the U.K. from its four terminal buildings. To ensure the smooth running of such a massive operation requires some major behind-the-scenes work, not least of which is the ongoing management and maintenance of the utility services serving the airport.
The airport is served by some 530 km of surface water drainage, the effective operation of which is vital to the continuing workings of the airport’s runways and aprons, especially during bad weather. There is also a network of some 120 km of sewers that need to be continually maintained to handle the product of so many passengers, aircrew and other airport staff. Across the whole pipeline spectrum, diameters vary from as small as 80 mm up to 1,800 mm diameter.
The staff at Heathrow Airport was looking to develop and utilize a centralized information storage and access system that did not require the physical movement of data within the company, with the goal of making information management easier and accessible from anywhere within the Heathrow operation. To this end, the asset management team worked with CCTV reporting and data handling specialist WinCan Europe Ltd to launch its operations on the company’s WinCan Web system.
With CCTV inspections being undertaken on contract by Tomato Plant, Heathrow’s preferred survey specialist, survey reports can be completed and uploaded to the central WinCan Web software immediately on completion. From WinCan Web the reports can then be accessed, usually as quickly as the following day. The information is available to anyone with the required access protocols, without the need to transport documents between sites.
The traditional, paper-based system was falling short, often leading to unplanned network failures. These failures were costly to address for the airport authority simply because of the handling requirements and the time it took the engineering staff to locate assets.
According to Paul Melvin, asset engineer (water systems) for Heathrow: “What the introduction of WinCan Web will allow us to do over time is move away from this physical handling of inspection reports and DVDs and allow us to have access to significant information on asset condition online and thereby enable us to plan for our regulatory investment periods more effectively and expedite pipe replacements or repairs that are most urgently required.”
Presently, the current known asset condition of only 15 percent of the Heathrow network is available; however, the availability of the WinCan Web software will mean that new surveys will be accessible more quickly. According to Paul Woodhouse, WinCan Europe’s director, “As we add more and more information we will be able to compare previous surveys with current ones and this will enable us to highlight potential areas of concern early and therefore potentially minimize the occurrence of unplanned events, and in addition reduce impact on the airport operation and reduce the high costs involved in ‘emergency responses.’ It is ultimately about asset management and showing value in what we do and why.”