Case Study: Southwest Airlines at Love Field
Southwest Airlines had been working with a scaffold
company to rent and erect scaffolding around the tail of
their aircraft at their Love Field MRO hangar. Because
of the monthly rental charges, as well as the time spent
to assemble and disassemble the scaffolding every time
the aircraft was moved, Southwest was looking to purchase
an access product to reduce costs and, ideally, also reduce
set-up time. They contacted their Grainger representative,
looking for a solution. Grainger identified Tri-Arc as the ideal
partner because of Tri-Arc’s previous experience with aviation
MRO access projects as well as tail docks, specifically.
Tri-Arc sent a Sales Engineer on site to review the situation and begin to formulate a solution. A unique aspect of Southwest’s challenge was the presence of mezzanine platforms on both sides of the aircraft bay, which were already integral to the operations as both access and storage. Any solution would need to work together with the mezzanine platforms.
Tri-Arc worked together with SWA’s hangar crew to identify
the key areas for access on the tail, as well as determine
how platforms would need to interact with the aircraft as it
was brought in or out. Tri-Arc proposed a multi-level
platform system that would be mirrored on either side of
the aircraft. Concept drawings illustrated the plan to the
customer, and coupled with follow-up conference calls,
provided a comfort level to Southwest, so they could
purchase with confidence. Tri-Arc coordinated with the
SWA crew to supervise their installation of the equipment
and comply with the union requirements at the site.
The final design is a system that is permanently located on the mezzanines. To provide clearance when the aircraft is moved, the platforms are mounted on a series of parallel tracks so they can be pulled away on either side. Retractable sections of the platform also reduce the footprint, and stairways that could be hinged up to clear over the existing mezzanine railing allow the platforms to move even further and remove the possibility of accidental contact. The platforms are made of aluminum to reduce the weight as much as possible during repositioning.
Southwest received a system that can be quickly set up or retracted, and will pay for itself in the savings of rental fees alone in roughly one year. Productivity savings resulting from the elimination of scaffolding set-up have not even been measured yet, but hold the potential to improve turn-around time of aircraft in the hangar. Less than a month after project completion, Grainger has already been contacted about bringing Tri-Arc in for another special platform requirement at Southwest’s Orlando facility.