Staff at T5 equipped to use new IT system

Staff at T5 equipped to use new IT system

Employees put new IT systems to the test in development process

In setting up the most technologically advanced airport terminal in the world, the main objective of British Airways (BA) and operator BAA was to ensure that staff were ready to use the IT innovations.

Employees were involved during the entire development process of new systems at Heathrow’s Terminal Five (T5) to ensure the technology would not only be simple to use but would also increase productivity.

Training and familiarisation procedures were carried out for a year so that staff could test the new IT systems in place throughout the building.

“Delivering more than 200 IT projects was easy when compared to the people element of the plan,” said BA’s programme head of information management for T5, Glenn Morgan.

“Getting people to understand the new role of technology and buy into the new proposition was our biggest challenge,” he said. “For some projects, people were asking for new systems to support their work, but we actually changed the process and brought no IT.”

On 5 March, more than 2000 BA and BAA staff volunteered to take part in the last advanced trial for the new technology before using it on a daily basis when the terminal opens on 27 March.

The main worker-focused innovation at the new terminal is a staff allocation system that replaces the previous pen-and--paper method used to assign tasks at the other Heathrow terminals.

The task distribution platform will be used by 4,000 staff and covers all the main operational areas of the airport, including baggage logistics and loading, as well as passenger services.

Under the system, which is a digital replication of the manual scheme, employees are allocated tasks based on operational developments and information relayed from other sources.

“Allocation of resources is essential to ensure the whole airport operation comes together,” said Morgan.

“We will be able to rely on technology to react to pressure caused by events such as fog because staff are allocated quickly and appropriately,” he said.

Communication between employees was also a priority in the T5 project. Airport staff such as baggage handlers and bus drivers, who did not previously have an email address, are now connected and 99.3 per cent of personnel use the system.

Operational employees will also have access to the same facilities as office-based staff such as a self-service system, available at the airport and via the internet.

Some 200 kiosks running the do-it-yourself system are positioned in key staff areas in the new building. Employees can carry out administrative procedures such as printing payslips.

“We have a very mobile workforce, so it was important to design tools to match that characteristic of their job,” said Morgan.

Staff are enthusiastic about using the new systems because it speeds up passenger handling processes and streamlines internal procedures throughout the airport, said BA chief information officer Paul Coby.

“People working on the ground love the technology and we are confident T5 will be a great place to work,” he said.