The 5 Reasons You Need A Vehicle Management System for Your Ground Service Equipment


Balancing rising fuel costs, increased securitycosts, and the cost of maintenance for ground service equipment is a daily challenge for airlines. Moving catering, fuel and baggage to aircraft in an efficient and timely manner not only results in more on-time departures, but can provide significant savings in equipment and operating costs.

Introduction to Vehicle Management Systems (VMS)

Managing aircraft Ground Service Equipment (GSE) effectively poses significant challenges. Tens of thousands of GSE vehicles operate at airports around the world. The vast majority are not keyed, because it is impossible for drivers to keep dozens of keys in their pockets. But that means anyone can take and use any piece of equipment without accountability for its use (or abuse), and without any visibility to the vehicle’s owner. Equally challenging to managing GSE fleets is controlling the significant costs of vehicle acquisition, vehicle maintenance, and operator labor the single largest cost component of ground handling operations. A Vehicle Management System (VMS) can help control these and other safety, productivity and damage issues common in GSE fleets. The fundamental starting place for vehicle management is vehicle access control, to restrict who can operate your vehicles and establish accountability for all vehicle use.

Lack of accountability translates to: • Anonymous damage to vehicles, baggage, aircraft, and facilities

• Poor compliance with government safety standards (or cumbersome processes to attempt to meet them)

• Increased risk of accidents due to untrained operators using vehicles or vehicles being operated in unsafe operating condition

• A large disparity in the amount operators are paid compared to the time they actually spend operating vehicles (actual time spent utilizing vehicles productively is typically less than 50% of time on the clock)

Because of these significant issues, some of the largest, most successful airlines in the world have adopted vehicle management technology in their operations. Vehicle management systems enable airlines to better use labor resources and provide a safer work environment, which directly leads to fewer missed baggage connections and maximized profits. However, there are still many airlines today that have:

• No true visibility of the GSE movements made by GSE operators

• Limited tools and data to measure the complete productivity of their operators

• No efficient way to ensure vehicles are safe to operate

• Limited or manual systems, if any, to determine where vehicle operators are assigned and to temporarily reassign them based on peak needs

What Are Vehicle Management Systems? A vehicle management system (VMS) begins with access control to your vehicles. In order to start any vehicle in your facility, the operator needs to present his/her ID badge to an electronic reader installed on the vehicle, similar to gaining entry to a secure area of the airport. The system is linked to the vehicle’s ignition and the vehicle will only start if the operator is authorized and properly trained. Once started, the system monitors and tracks exactly how that vehicle is used (or not). Data is collected automatically and in real time to provide the visibility necessary to manage GSE operations most efficiently.

VMS helps you answer questions, such as:

1. Are my operators driving safely?

2. Why does it take some employees much longer than others to do specific tasks?

3. How long should it take to do a specific task? How can I measure what the true standards should be?

4. Do I have the right amount of vehicles in my fleet and can I still meet peak demands?

5. Why are some operators paid overtime while others are not working their full shifts?

6. Where do we need to focus our labor resources today?

7. How do we forecast vehicles and operators needed for future workflow?

8. How do we prevent baggage from missing key connections?

9. Am I maintaining my vehicles efficiently? Can I increase vehicle “uptime”? This report provides unique insight into how these questions are answered by VMS. In this report you will learn the most important reasons why you need to consider installing a vehicle management system now. You’ll also gain insight into what factors to evaluate for VMS vendors.


• You are delivering outbound bags to scheduled flights

• You need to move three fully loaded baggage carts to Gate 7

• Your standards say a trip should take 7 minutes and 30 seconds per round-trip of labor “allocated” for the delivery. • The actual time recorded by your VMS is 5 minutes and 45 seconds (average over the course of several months), indicating the standard can be modified

RESULTS: A 23% reduction of the time standard and paid resource level. This process, applied to all of your labor planning, translates to a significant cost savings based on reallocation in your workforce or reduction in future hiring plan with no impact on your operation

The Five Key Reasons to Immediately Consider Vehicle Management


Across multiple industries, initial VMS data reveals a very similar, and startling, pattern of vehicle operation.

  • Typical Shift Pay 8 hours
  • Operator Logged in to GSE 4 hours
  • GSE In Motion 2 hours

Two hours of motion for every 8 hours paid!

This data has been collected from over 35,000 VMS vehicle installations. Of course, some operators are higher while some are lower, and some airline work is driven by schedule, but VMS provides operational visibility and productivitymetrics that are not achievable in any other way


Airlines are having a challenging time managing costs in a very difficult operating environment. Productivity tools are essential to maintain a competitive edge. As a result, the most successful airlines in the world have adopted VMS in their key hub operations. VMS gives you the tools you need to optimize your GSE fleet as safely and effectively as possible. Typically, each dollar saved in ground handling operations translates to many times that amount in increased passenger revenue (based upon an airline’s margin profile). The effectiveness of VMS and the rapid return on investment it generates have been proven in the airport environment. Now you, too, can capitalize on these proven VMS results for your GSE fleet.

Case Study After deploying a VMS:

• An airline uncovered that out of 100 pieces of GSE (baggage tractors) monitored in their hub, less than 35 were ever used simultaneously at any given time over a four-month period. As a result, the airline canceled the purchase of new equipment and transferred the underutilized equipment to a new hub.

• Ramp accidents were reduced by nearly 75%

• GSE operator overtime was significantly reduced

This data has been collected from over 35,000 VMS vehicle installations. Of course, some operators are higher while some are lower, and some airline work is driven by schedule, but VMS provides operational visibility and productivitymetrics that are not achievable in any other way.