Smart watches for Sats ground handling workers at Changi Airport

Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng trying out the helmet and smart watch in the SATS Tech Ramp Control Centre on Dec 15, 2016.
Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng trying out the helmet and smart watch in the SATS Tech Ramp Control Centre on Dec 15, 2016.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A member of the media tries out the smart watch and helmet on Dec 15, 2016.
A member of the media tries out the smart watch and helmet on Dec 15, 2016.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Ground handling firm Sats has given its workers at Changi Airport smart watches paired with hands-free headsets to help them operate better and faster.

The workers on the tarmac escort planes to the parking gates after they land and prepare the aircraft for the next departure.

Sats is believed to be the first in the world to deploy the use of such technology for airport ground operations.

Showcasing the capability on Thursday (Dec 15) to Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng and other industry players, Sats said the smart watches enable the dissemination and receiving of information and data such as work schedules and instructions.

Previously, such communication was done manually. For example, changes in operations had to be communicated manually or the details printed out again, adding to the time required.

By using technology which boosts efficiency, Sats is now able to reallocate resources for greater productivity, the firm said.

The smart watches are paired with bone-conductor headsets via Bluetooth, allowing technical ramp personnel to make and receive hands-free calls; increasing safety and ease of collaboration.

The headset solution was designed in partnership with Temasek Polytechnic

"In an industry that is becoming ever more competitive, constant innovation and productivity gains are essential," said Mr Alex Hungate, Sats' president and chief executive officer.

Mr Kevin Shum, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said the initiative is the latest in a series of innovative productivity projects supported by the CAAS Aviation Development Fund.

He said: "Tapping on innovative technologies, we will continue to redesign airport jobs and upskill our workers to sharpen Changi's competitiveness and strengthen our position as a global air hub."

Sats also announced on Thursday that it had been awarded accreditation by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to train ground handlers in 10 countries regionally.

The programme will equip ground handling staff with knowledge and skills based on industry best practices.

Mr Conrad Clifford, IATA regional vice-president for the Asia-Pacific, said: "Air travel in Asia is expected to grow exponentially, but there is still a deficit in trained personnel to meet the demand.

"It is also crucial that ramp and apron services keep up with the most recent industry developments. With expertise in Asian aviation, coupled with Singapore's status as a world class air hub, Sats is well placed to enhance ramp handling services training across the region."

The new programme is scheduled to begin in March.

Sats will be the exclusive IATA training provider for ground handlers in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and Myanmar. It is also a non-exclusive training provider for India.