Publishing Date: August 2020
On this inaugural PTS Community News Special Edition episode #1, listen in to a conversation between Airport Improvement Magazine's Kristin Shaw and Regal Beloit's Jason Glass as they discuss current and upcoming changes in the airport industry.
Season #1: Episode #: 7 (special edition)
Special Note - Episode originally aired 6/10/2020 on Airport Improvement's YouTube channel as part of its Show and Tell series and website.
Featuring Jason Glass of Regal Beloit
Host: This is Community News On the Air, brought to you by Regal® Power Transmission Solutions. I'm your host Carmen Ek, and in this podcast series we'll be sharing tools, tips and new innovations to address some of the tough challenges our customers face. Overall, my goal is to help our customers' employees be successful.
Carmen: Hi, everyone. This is Carmen Ek, your host for Community News On the Air. I'm pleased to offer you a special edition episode featuring Kristen Shaw from AirportImprovement.com and Jason Glass, new business development engineer with Regal Beloit.
Take a moment to listen in as they discuss airport maintenance during COVID-19, and new innovations in airport baggage handling.
Kristen: Hey, this is Kristen Shaw with Airport Improvement magazine, and I'm here with Jason Glass from Regal Beloit. How are you, Jason?
Jason: Doing great, enjoying the beautiful weather here in Texas.
Kristen: Yes. Thanks for joining me today. I'm looking forward to hearing what you're up to and what Regal Beloit is doing now and in the last couple of months and how you've been adjusting.
Jason: Obviously, like most people, we're trying to adjust to the new style of doing business, much like this, where you're instead of meeting face to face, you're doing a lot of teleconferencing and emailing. So it's definitely changed the industry a little bit.
From my perspective as the national business development director, not being able to go out and talk to airports and be at conferences and go to shows and that sort of thing, that's a little bit different.
But I think it's an interesting time as airports are adjusting as well. I think, coming out of this, we're going to see a new style of airport travel and I think a new style of business in general.
Kristen: It will. It will. And before I ask any more questions, tell our viewers who may not be familiar with Regal Beloit a little bit more about what you do in the aviation industry.
Jason: Sure. Regal Beloit, we're a large company. We manufacturer motors and gearboxes belts and sheaves, and bearings and couplings for the airport industry, focused primarily on the airport baggage handling side of airport operations.
Kristen: Awesome. I have heard that some airports are making good use of this time while the loads are lower, to make some adjustments and do some maintenance. What are you seeing from your clients?
Jason: We're seeing a lot of that ourselves. And I think a lot of the things that I'm seeing personally, a lot of the airports were still running, even though passenger counts are way down. A lot of the airports are still running their maintenance. It's a time for a lot of guys to catch up on some of the stuff that maybe slips through the cracks when airports are busy and a baggage handling conveyor goes down and that takes away their focus. So we're seeing a lot of MRO business, we're seeing a lot of requests for ones and twos, pieces of equipment, and that sort of thing.
I had a conversation just a couple of days ago with an airport maintenance manager, and their passenger count was down from several thousand to just several hundred. So they're spending a lot of that time looking at ways to improve the airport, look at new ways to set up the airport as a whole. As we look at social distancing, and we look at the way that baggage is going to be handled, how do we maintain distance? Is that going to apply to baggage being that it's handled by a person and passed off to the airline? So, how are we going to create ways to protect airport baggage handlers and that sort of thing?
So it's definitely a time of maintenance, but it's also a great time for innovation.
Kristen: Yeah, I agree, on the innovation part, especially. I'd love to hear if you have some examples of innovators that you've seen, innovations and ideas.
Jason: Sure. One of the things that Regal is looking at currently is, how do we help airports be more energy efficient? The baggage handling system is constantly running at a lot of our larger airports and some of our smaller ones as well. So how do we help that airport consume less power?
And as a company, our initiative currently is, how do we create a more energy efficient baggage handling system?
So we're looking at motor design, we're looking at gear box design. We're looking at all the different things, including the Internet of Things and it drives are centralized and decentralized. How are they maintained? How do they stop? How do they start?
So, looking for new ways for airports to save money going into these strange times.
And I think one of the biggest things that I'm focusing on personally is working with engineers because there's less to do. So now we have a little bit of free time to look at designs and listen to not so much what we want to sell into the airport industry, but what the airport industry wants to see from us as a manufacturer. What are the things that they're saying from their point of view that we can help design into their platform?
Kristen: Are you finding that that collaboration is generating some new ideas and new ways to try things together?
Jason: I think so. We're working with a couple of smaller airports that are using a centralized system, which, for them, it works very, very well. It's an older system. It's about 10 to 12 years old. But what we've seen in our tests is we're able to save them a significant dollar amount, enough as an ROI on their initial investment to redo their airport, to actually have a faster return on investment -- just through energy savings. And that doesn't include better performance and better reaction time.
So we're seeing a lot of that. And we're seeing a lot of great ideas when it comes to companies that are looking into baggage sanitization, they're looking into better ways to move baggage, looking at new ways to move baggage from the terminal out to the aircraft. So decreasing personal contact with baggage and that sort of thing.
So it's a very interesting time. A lot like other industries, the airport industry is one that tends to accelerate very quickly in times like this.
Kristen: So our bags will be cleaner than ever.
Jason: I hope so. [laughter]
Kristen: And me too.
I asked this question of another guest recently, and I'm curious to know what you think. Is there anything from 9/11 that the aviation industry learned that they're applying to these times? Are there any lessons learned that maybe are helping them through this?
Jason: Yeah, I think it's the response time. I remember when when 9/11 happened and how it affected... Primarily, I think a lot of us remember the change in security, where airport security, anybody could go to the gate and it was a very fluid system, and when we had to put in these extensive checkpoints -- protecting us all, obviously that's important, but as travelers have seen, it creates kind of that chokepoint. And some of the innovation that we've seen just because of COVID is -- how do we spread that area out? How do we create more checkpoints? How do we redesign the floor plan of our airport to better suit our customers?
Because obviously, and if you traveled -- we've all traveled within the last five years, you know how crammed in together we end up in this checkpoint. So how do we spread those people out? How do we protect people? Are face masks going to be enough? Are air sanitization systems? All those type of things.
And I think because airports are slower -- even just here in Austin, I was out at the airport, just walking through the airport to see -- they're making changes. They're looking at ways to better handle passengers or looking at better ways to move people quickly through the airport.
Even the airlines were looking at, how do we load a plane? How long does that take? How do we space passengers out?
So I think a lot of the innovation that we're seeing is similar to that time.
What I am seeing now is a decreased amount of fear, which I am very excited about. After 9/11 there was a lot of fear in air travel. There was a lot of fear coming from just the industry as a whole. I don't see that this time around. What I see is people coming together and working diligently to find better and more efficient ways to work together, and innovate to change the process.
Kristen: That's really good news. I like hearing that, too.
I'm wondering, because airports have to look so far into the future -- they're making plans for 20-year terminals, or longer -- how do they plan for things like this? How do you adjust?
Jason: From my perspective in business development and working with airports and consulting firms and the OEMs, I've seen a couple of our jobs that we're working on now, they stopped working on those jobs and changed the footprint or changed the plan. The response time is very rapid.
And for airports, it is. It's more of being a futurist, if you will, when you look at how airports are going to be managed and looking at the technology moving forward, and how do we get an airport to be smoother? And how do we anticipate what's going to happen 10 years from now?
You think back five years ago, no one expected air travel to come to a halt again. No one expected to social distancing to be as prominent as it is. And with the sheer number of people traveling through an airport, managing that and looking forward becomes the challenge.
And through technology, through personal monitoring, through camera systems, through IP system, through all these different things that airports are implementing, I think we're going to see a massive shift in the technologies in the airport.
Kristen: There's a lot of opportunity out there, definitely, to come up with new ways to handle some of these challenges.
Jason: Oh, yeah. And I think the part that excites me the most -- obviously these are times where you can get very caught up in the worry and the fear of what's going on -- what excites me about any kind of downturn, and my previous history coming from the oil and gas industry, obviously it's struggling right now too, but in these times when things are slower is when we see massive acceleration and innovation.
And as a company -- we have 11 different brands, we have all these engineers, we have outside relationships with companies -- and looking at new technology and how do we apply that technology to the airport baggage handling industry? Where, say, two years ago the focus was on inner logistics. You look at larger companies and you look at these massive shipping centers and you look at the way that they handle their equipment, the way they handle packages, how do we take those innovations that were focused on that industry and apply it to the airport baggage handling industry? And that's really what keeps me excited every day. I still love going to work and trying to find new ways to apply this, and apply our technology and our new designs to the airport industry as a whole.
Kristen: That's great. I like your positive outlook and enthusiasm.
Jason: Thank you.
Kristen: Well, thank you for spending time with us today, Jason.
If you want to know more about Regal Beloit, please take a look at the website. We're going to post right here as soon as we finish. Thanks for joining us today.
Jason: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity.
Host: For more information on Regal's products and new innovations, visit www.RegalBeloit.com And for more insights into airport improvements, visit www.airportimprovement.com.