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Software Design srl

Software Design srl




The management of a modern airport is a challenging task that implies great efforts and capabilities to cope with current industry trends ranging from market deregulation to high competition levels. Considering the increasing cost of labour and the lack of trained personnel on the hand, and the need to increase revenues and improve the quality of service on the other hand, the airport managers require tools that help them to allocate the right number of skilled people at the right time and the right place. Software Design solutions, in the context of the allocation of airport resources, allow to automate both the long-range planning and the daily management gaining an efficient management of flights and aircrafts. Resources planning solutions for human and mobile equipments belongs to a family of planning solutions, named Resource Brain, able to plan any kind of airport resources typology. The whole planning and management set of solutions helps planning and management of all kind of human resources (handling operators, security, etc.) and mobile equipments (coaches, stairs, tankers, …) by providing tools for Staffing Needs, Shift Generation, Rostering, Shift changes and Resource allocation along four phases :

  • Strategic
  • Tactical
  • Pre-operation
  • Daily Supervision & Control

The process related to the resource planning is composed of a series of concatenated activities. Firstly, are generated the work tasks to be carried out for the flight activities scheduled in the reference period. The set of services represents the input allowing to evaluate the needs curve in terms of resources required for each time slice in the period.
The identified work load and available resources become the input of the planning functions having in charge the research of the optimal allocation. Automatic outputs can be manually updated to let the operator the power to manage unpredictable situations. Once in operation, human resources are supported by wireless and presentation devices to know exactly the task in charge and interact with the system to notify the progress of services operated. The whole solution is structured on the following applications :

  • Resource Brain- Human&Mobile Resources
  • ResourceTracer

The Daily supervision & Control of ResourceBrain-Human&Mobile can be delivered in two different versions:

  • Light : this version is able to automatically plan services . Staff and mobile devices allocations are let to manual operations.
  • Full : this version other than services planning is also equipped with an optimization engine for automatic staff and mobile devices allocation.


“An integrated solution that allows to cover the whole planning cycle, starting from the Strategic scenario to the operational one”

“Quick answer to the rapid evolutions of the work load and needs, guaranteeing, at the same time, the maximum efficiency regarding the use of the available resources”

“Reduce the impacts due to the necessity to manage activities or important events not expected”

“Business increase through a larger number of flights and passengers managed by better exploiting currently available resources”

“High level of passengers satisfaction by means of a remarkable reduction of waiting times”

“Better coordination of the planning and management of different typologies of resources correlated between them”

“High level of coordination among all airport operators”

“ncreasing power for the management of criticalities”

“Ability to perform costing analysis (estimate and final balance) to verify real costs for each flight and each airline”

“Ability to manage priority flights with some level of privileges reducing problems deriving from delays of flights and aircraft on other connected flights”

“Increasing power for the management of shift changes using what-if analysis function to see operational impacts in advance”

“Generation of all basic data able to support decision making through business analysis tools”



Shift Generation

Using service needs the system generate optimized shifts for each departments

Roster Generation

Starting from shifts roster grids for each working group are arranged.


In the strategic planning phase, the system manages simulation scenarios obtained from different sources: historical flight information, flight plans contained in the time tables, service contracts, etc. Each scenario can have different data associated to simulate company behaviour in different operative conditions.
It is worth to underline that scenarios are not completely isolate one to another in case they share common data. Changing a date shared among more scenarios each of them can change. In any case results of scenarios are stored so that they can change only activating a re-planning on the specific scenario.
In order to manage strongly self-consistent scenarios it is recommended to get in charge more instantiations of the Strategic module on different physical or virtual machines.
It is suggested that each instantiation is associated to a single user who really knows data management policy on common data.
Strategic Planning is mainly used for resource sizing before the beginning of a season or when emerge hypothesis of conditions that can change the amount of work such as a new service contract awarding.
The strategic component works with a time horizon of months (usually six months that is the typical duration of a season). During the definition of the simulation scenario the reference season (summer or winter) and the related sub periods will be selected.
In the Strategic scenario there are no strict constraints. The periods can be not consecutive and can be overlapped. Furthermore, inconsistencies between reference periods and seasons can be also allowed (the period can also not belong to the selected season). Each scenario is able to generate shifts and rosters to be used for each department, and to analyse staff coverage percentage and flight management costing.

Strategic planning allows two different planning modes :

  • reference week planning
  • continuous planning

In the first case each period will make reference to a sample week characterised by a workload that can be of low, medium or high intensity (in order to make the simulation as close as possible to the reality).
The continuous planning mode is better addressed to companies or departments having a very little margin between the number of working hours available and the needed working hours. Working in this mode the planning process take into account the real need of each calendar day. Moreover, it is able to manage unavailability calendars planning shifts based on real expected presences.

Concerning the management of the staff sizing, the strategic component can work using two different approaches:

  • limited resources: the number of the resources is fixed. The system allows to configure nominative resources or just define the number of resources for each department. Even mixed cases can be managed. Working with a predefined number of resources, the system evaluates the resulting level of coverage taking into account a timetable to identify flights to manage and a contract version to identify services to carry out. In case of understaff the system allows to identify exact lack in order to manually resize resources and try again to evaluate the new scenario.
  • unlimited resources: the number of the resources has not been previously fixed. Working in this mode the system is allowed to select the optimal number of resources required for the management of the airport business.

In both cases level of understaff and overstaff acceptable can be defined in terms of percentage. Moreover for understaff is available more sophisticated configuration letting to define maximum understaff allowed for week days and time slices.
Strategic planning do not let plan in continuous mode when the unlimited resource mode is selected for the department.
Before starting the planning the system alerts on possible lack of historical data for flights using very friendly graphic effects. The presence of historical data, provided by the Flight Forecasting module, is a key point to ensure well addressed planning.
After basic data configurations, the strategic planning for each identified scenario can generate the needs curve for each type of resource.
Needs curve can exploit smoothing functions to reduce the impact of peaks on resource planning. Smoothing works in two different modalities : resource cutting, resource redistribution. The former eliminate the need from the peak whilst the latter redistribute the need around the peak.
Using the need curve the system generate shifts needs for each department taking into account also IATA parameters such as illness days, training days, etc. Once shift types and related number have been identified, the system generate the roster grid for each working group.

In case a department working using the continuous planning mode a screen showing the shift assignment for each staff of any department.

Simulation results belonging to different scenarios can be printed and compared to support decision making. Once conditions are well assessed, the operator can work within the operational environment to set new planning parameters.

For each scenario it is possible analyse foreseen costing. It can be done by configuring elementary parameters needed to calculate both direct and indirect costs. Costing functions allows the calculation of overall operational costs. This can be used to support the best contract price evaluation. The costing in the strategic environment can be evaluated by referring to the planned quantity of labour carried out by all resources and all the equipments used.
Resources used are then translated in costs by using the operational cost of each resource. The operational cost is calculated dividing the overall cost of ownership by the total occupation on all services in charge.


Shifts Instantiation

For each staff shifts are generated throughout the period in office


The tactical component can be used after the strategic component or as a stand-alone module.
In the tactical planning phase, the system allows to define the needs of each type of service, generate work shifts and identify the optimized registers, taking into account the real operational data.

Tactical planning is very similar to the strategic module with the following important differences:

  • only one installation must be implemented even if it can manage different scenarios for different time periods;
  • presence of constraints controlling the existing connections between reference week, period and sample week
  • Allocation and coverage functionalities after the cyclic cycle generation phase.
  • The daily shifts are instantiated for each week of the period, taking into account the schedule of unavailability of each staff.
    the planning mode of unlimited resources is not available because the staff must be completely configured with unavailability calendars, preferences and skills covered.

The instantiation steps are finally made available for the operational phases (daily pre-coordination, supervision and control).


For each staff Shift, all tasks in charge are planned


Shift Changes

The company and any staff can require and accept changes for daily shifts just using web based services


The pre-operation environment allows managing the planning for the next days and controlling the potential criticalities, providing the requests for changing shifts or for the extension of the working time. In the pre-operation environment users can perform what-if-analysis functions related to the evaluation of hypotheses of work shifts modifications or massive absences.

In particular, the pre-operation environment is composed of three main views :

  • Resource Manager : aimed at planning and control resources allocation for next days services. This view allows the selection of the period to plan and control allocations of human staff and mobile devices generated.
  • Shift Change : aimed at manage changes of shifts or working hours variations. Shift changes can be submitted both by the company and by the staff itself. Shift changes can define the desired shift or submit the illness of two staff to exchange the shifts. Working hours variations can be submitted by defining the reason (absence, permit, extra work, …).
  • What-If Analysis : aimed at propose suggestions for shift types and, for each one, the relative number of resources to cover flights and services that are not properly sized. What-if is also able to verify the coverage output for total or partial acceptance of shift changes.

For each flight the system is able to show potential criticalities due to services not properly covered both by human resources or equipments. Taking into account these criticalities the system can suggest shifts to be added to meet the coverage needs.
In this phase, manual re-planning activation can be carried out for the several operational departments also defining which typologies of services are to be considered unmoveable in occurrence of next re-planning runs.

The Resource Manager View can be personalised by each final user depending on role in charge. In particular an operator can :

  • Require the ordering type for services. In particular two different modes are available : order by planned start time and order by service type. The former is better fit to supervisors allowing to manage services in the order of the time occurrence.
  • Require the ordering type for staff. In particular two different modes are available : order by staff name and order by start time of the assigned shift. The latter is better fitted to staff supervisors allowing to know staff not yet present.

In case of a big number of services/staff, in order to simplify the monitoring and manual operations about allocation changes, the systems allows a double screen presentation. The first screen dedicated to the services and the other to the staff.
Even if the allocation functions are really sophisticated allowing high levels of optimization, manual operations are however available for unexpected cases.
To simplify manual operations, the system offer a dedicated modality named ‘Add Staff’. Using this working mode it is possible :

  • Assign staff to services using drag&drop facilities;
  • Trace vertical lines in the staff panel to identify the time range of a service;
  • Order staff more appropriate based on the presence range, already assigned tasks. In such a way the operator can identify better allocation at a glance.

In the pre-operation phase, activities regarding shift changes can be done both using a web based application and by using dedicated kiosks placed in the airport. Through these means any staff can submit requests and monitor the request workflow.
Back office team can exploit a very ergonomic screen to manage requests and analyse operational impacts.
What-if screens are the same used as for the real data management. The only exception is related to the presentation in a separate cache of the future scenario. Only in case of explicit confirmation by the operator simulated data can be accepted and instantiated in the operational environment.

The pre-operation environment allows to reach very interesting advantages such as :

  • Better knowledge of quite static services by planning and printing allocations for next days services
  • Strong reduction of manpower need to manage shift changes and variations
  • Management of operational criticalities some days before improving resource allocation and service quality


Activities to be carried out

Ramp Services Mobile Management

Services Staus at a glance handling agents can manage services in charge simply using a smartphone device


Flight Service Monitoring


Ramp Monitoring


In the Real Time phase, all the services, not blocked in the pre-coordination phase, can be reprogrammed to adapt the current operating situation. Replanification executions are carried out not later than a configurable guard time window, before the expected start-up of the service, in order to avoid situations of management entropy. All activities assigned to the various operational teams can be sent in different ways, including dispatching forms.
Real-time planning can be activated either in manual mode or cyclically over a defined interval. The automatic redesign, after the evaluation of the services, can verify if a new allocation of the personnel is really necessary. The real-time management module provides a series of applications to support operations that perform resource dispatching and flight / activity monitoring:

  • Planning and Dispatching
  • Monitoring
  • Data Analisys
  • Planning & Dispatching

Dispatching is defined as the set of activities aimed at assigning tasks to resources and informing them of the activities in charge. The execution of the activities follows a workflow based on the following main steps:

  • Visa service
  • Service started
  • MPI reached
  • Closed service

The MPIs represent a milestone in the service (intermediate measurement points) that are configured for each service using the framework’s Service & Contract module. Typical MPI are: resources on stands, first pax landed, las pax landed, coach on easel, etc.

The resource planning functions, using the airport allocation Middleware, allow you to plan services for the next few hours reaching high levels of optimization and performance. This is done by choosing the best allocation of human and mobile resources available during the day. The planning uses actual data or expected figures according to the messages received at the time of planning. In this way the system refines the planning over time allowing the operator to choose a protection window to avoid entropy resulting from continuous changes.
The allocation takes into account the general rules that characterize the service, the ability and the working methods, even current presences and unexpected unavailability.

Resource management features are supported by a very sophisticated application that offers a large number of graphical tools to easily manage services and their allocations. The Resource Management screen consists of the following views:

  • Criticality bar: allows you to indicate the number of flights that are critical for each time band
  • Flight chronology: aerial view of aircraft parking time on the ramp.
  • Flight service history: bar display of all services connected to flights. This bar allows the management of the service workflow by manually assigning and removing resources.
  • Support service hours: bar view for airport assistance services
  • Personal Timeline assigned: bar view for human resources assigned to services
  • Assigned Timeline GSE: Bargraph view for mobile equipment assigned to services.

Operators, based on their expertise and their operational role, can open and close the grids and deadlines to choose the ones that best represent the information to be managed.
Resource management can be managed through a friendly user interface both in the back office and in the front office using tablet devices. Working on the move is a high added value that allows supervisors to check for criticalities in real time with special visualizations and intelligent graphical interactions to easily support navigation through services and retrofit actions to solve allocation problems.
Moreover, thanks to a wireless connection (Wifi, GPRS, …), the system allows both the dissemination of information related to the activities assigned and the distribution of the load to all mobile operators. Using these devices, authorized personnel can consult the information and enter information aimed at providing the current status of the services. In particular, the following actions can be done:

  • Access with appropriate grants
  • Get a service
  • Start and stop a service
  • Set an MPI as achieved
  • Add an additional service upon request
  • Monitoring

The monitoring applications are intended to support the central offices that have the task of supervising the flight. These offices work in real time to identify the critical issues and request the necessary interventions to the companies involved.
The monitoring application allows you to check the status of flight activities and related activities

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