Embracing the future today

Digitising Asset Management –
creating the digital twin for Schiphol Airport

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Airports are busier than ever and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is no exception. It was the 12th busiest airport in 2016 according to Airports Council International’s Traffic Report, at the same time the airport continues to win global airport awards from both airline and passenger organisations. Schiphol Airport saw over 63 million passengers– a 10% increase on the year before.

As airports get busier the need for good asset management and adaptation to digitisation is crucial to optimise safety, security, passenger experience, etc. NACO, a company of Royal HaskoningDHV, has worked with Schiphol Airport for over 50 years and increasingly, the importance of digital in all aspects of the operations grows to enhance the passenger experience and increase operational excellence.

While so much of airport management is physical, there are also vast amounts of information and data behind the scenes that make the daily running of terminals possible.

Alexander Worp said: “Our existing relationship with NACO made them a partner to move towards digitisation of the passenger terminal as the process was new ground for both NACO and Schiphol. Our partnership is significant for us to become leaders, within the top 3 airports in this field.”

From paper to digital

Alexander Worp, Strategic Advisor BIM, Asset Management at Schiphol Airport said: “Until recently, our problem has been that so much of the information on our buildings, assets and infrastructure is on paper. NACO are helping us by bringing that information into a digital form. They´ve started creating ‘digital twins’ of our buildings thanks to 3D Building Information modelling (BIM). This has allowed us to share insights and information with airport staff more effectively. It has also opened up the possibility of new digital processes for passengers via apps and screens around the airport, which makes their journey smoother. So it’s a clear win-win.”

NACO started this process with Schiphol five years ago, utilising BIM to bring all aspects of their buildings and assets into a single visible 3D model.

Gerard van der Veer, Director Airport Building Design at NACO, detailed the process: “Our 3D modelling can be accessed, edited and shared easily in real time. As the large amounts of data that go through a terminal each day are implemented into the models they become more accurate. The patterns and insights that result from this are hugely beneficial – especially for passenger journeys. For example if an elevator is not working the team can spot this, notify the terminal staff and suggest changes to the passenger journey before a passenger even notices.”

Collaboration and future-proofing

A strong partnership is very relevant in moving towards digitisation of the airport’s assets as the process was new ground for both NACO and Schiphol.

Alexander continued: “Our existing relationship with NACO made them the right partner to collaborate with. Not only have Royal HaskoningDHV worked on hundreds of airports around the world, but they understand Schiphol specifically, inside and out. Working with BIM has been incredibly beneficial because our team members can see the information they usually handle on paper in a much more accessible visual space. We see more, we learn more and we act better. That’s where NACO has supported us – decisions can be made by the team in a much more collaborative and efficient way. While other airports are beginning to utilise this digitalisation, our partnership was significant to become leaders, within the top 3 airports in this field.”

If you would like to know more about digitisation of non-airport
related assets please get in touch with Daisy Rood.  

NACO and Schiphol have also worked with the latest innovation in the design and engineering industry – augmented and virtual reality. This is particularly useful in early design stages when working with key stakeholders like airlines and board members.

Gerard spoke about this process: “Architectural or engineering drawings can be difficult for a board member of an airport or an airline to grasp. They can be too technical and rely heavily on the person’s imagination in visualising what the finished product will look like. We are able to put stakeholders in the centre of a new airport terminal design with virtual and augmented reality. They can walk around and see what they’ll look like.”

Alexander concluded: “It has made the entire process of designing, discussing, changing and confirming new projects with stakeholders much faster, more collaborative and ultimately more enjoyable.”


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