Routers & SD-Perimeter Enable Network-as-a-Service for Fast Deployments, Flexibility & Simplified Security for Airport Analytics
JBT manages Passenger Boarding Bridges (PBBs) and auxiliary gate systems, which gather important data to facilitate real-time information monitoring. The company’s challenge was to keep its PBBs and other systems connected 24/7; to monitor network conditions by airport authorities and airlines; and to keep capital expenditures such as fiber, switches, and other hardware and resources to a minimum.
JBT chose Cradlepoint’s COR Series routers, along with Cradlepoint's NetCloud Manager and NetCloud Perimeter, to deploy its software-defined, cloud-enabled Network-as-a-Service and address its business challenges at a moment’s notice.
The Aerotech Division of JBT, a leading global technology solutions provider, furnishes airports with:
- Ground support equipment, including cargo loaders, aircraft deicers, and passenger steps
- Gate equipment, including boarding bridges and preconditioned air units
- Airport services, including maintenance, technology, and technical services
- Military equipment, including loaders, mobile air units, and aircraft tow tractors
JBT employs about 4,000 people.
One of JBT’s most popular services is management of PBBs, also known as jetways. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) are the brains of these PBBs, dictating how they function. These controllers monitor everything from systems status to power being supplied to the aircraft when parked at the gate, along with trying to control portable air conditioners and much more. This data is integrated with maintenance management systems that trigger alarms when problems arise. A work order is automatically opened, alerting a tech who completes the job efficiently while tracking hours, costs, and more from mobile devices.
Prior to using Cradlepoint’s purpose-built solutions, JBT’s gate management process was largely manual; the team would wait for a pilot or PBB operator to call in with issues affecting operations. Boosting automation required Internet access, which is difficult because airports are complex and security-minded, and usually require third-party companies to bring their own networks.
“They’ve got so much on their networks today that the last thing they want is to bring another device onto those networks,” said Stephen Tatton, director of business systems and new technology at JBT.
In some locations JBT would attain connectivity by running cabling from gate to gate, but this is an incredibly lengthy and expensive process. Getting approval and then having wire lines installed could take well over a year.
“It can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 just to run a piece of cable to a PBB and back to the terminal,” said Tatton.
JBT needed a comprehensive solution that would:
- Provide constant WAN uptime
- Facilitate remote monitoring and management of network devices
- Grant network access to enable real-time gate system analytics via JBT’s iOPS™ monitoring platform
For more network reliability, flexibility, simplicity, and security, JBT selected a comprehensive solution from Cradlepoint, including:
- Compact, ruggedized COR Series routers to facilitate 4G LTE as WAN
- Cloud management services within the Cradlepoint NetCloud platform
- SD-Perimeter services that simplify network creation and security through an overlay network
JBT mounts the routers on gate systems, terminal kiosks, and other remote locations, connecting them directly to controllers or industrial PCs. Then, through SD-Perimeter, JBT links multiple gates together, using the Cradlepoint solution to securely connect IP-enabled devices to a Virtual Cloud Network. This allows the PLCs to send critical data to cloud applications.
LESS HARDWARE, MORE FLEXIBILITY
The accumulation of networking devices is one of the biggest challenges in the aviation industry, said Tatton. For the first time, JBT can securely connect directly to a gate system controller without additional third-party devices.
The Cradlepoint solution allows JBT to implement pop-up wireless LAN infrastructure with minimal or no wiring or switches.
“With Cradlepoint, we’ve been able to reduce the amount of hardware we need, which ultimately reduces the amount of interference we have, as well as downtime. There are fewer components in the middle, and fewer things that can go wrong,” said Tatton.
Cradlepoint’s SD-Perimeter solution runs at the data center and on the COR Series routers, allowing the controllers to communicate with the server and provide secure network access to real-time gate system data.
This Network-as-a-Service allows all controllers to share the same internal LAN IP address scheme for faster/easier deployments. Previously, each LAN required unique LAN subnets.
"Security is our No 1 priority, and Cradlepoint solutions help us check that box," said Tatton.
SCALABILITY FOR QUICKER DEPLOYMENTS
Cloud management gives JBT the opportunity to expedite deployment of routers, and to monitor, manage, and update the devices with little on-site IT support.
FAST SPEEDS FOR MISSION-CRITICAL WORK
The high-performance COR Series routers with 4G LTE and intelligent routing get data from end devices back to JBT’s central system quickly and securely.
“Our customers can be standing on a PBB, turn on the Cradlepoint and see their gate system appear on their phone — all in less than a second. When you can do that and realize the data is going through cellular service at that rate, it is truly impressive,” Tatton said.
JBT reaps significant cost savings from its comprehensive Cradlepoint solutions, including:
- Fewer capital expenditures for fiber lines and switching equipment
- Fewer man-hours devoted to installation of network infrastructure
- Reducing time to install and deploy by six to 12 months
- Investment protection, as Cradlepoint solutions can instantly move wherever they are needed