Commercial airlines handle many gigabytes of fuel data every year – data related to flight events, fuel uplifts and movements, product and service charges, tenders, contracts, emissions, invoicing and more.
The concept of ‘big data’ is therefore not new to this industry, but the ability to truly learn and create value from it is. To do this effectively, you need to be able to aggregate and analyze all this data quickly and easily, and present it in a way that makes sense to everyone involved in the fuel management process — fuel managers, planners and buyers; fuel ops and logistics teams; accounting teams and so on. However, until now, the technology that could do this has been out of reach for most commercial airlines.
There are many reasons why commercial airlines haven’t been able to uncover the valuable insights hidden within their fuel data. Firstly, the data is usually stored within multiple unconnected systems — a flight scheduling system, an ops control system, a financial system, an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP), maybe even some Excel spreadsheets, and so on.
If you’re lucky enough to have a fuel management system that centralizes all of that data, you still need some way of interrogating it and gaining meaningful intelligence.
Traditionally, fuel management systems and ERPs haven’t been great at this — they may only offer a limited number of static reports that go out of date almost immediately after you run them. If there is some kind of business intelligence or analytics tool built in, it’s often complicated to use, frustratingly slow, or provides stats that you don’t find useful. And if your system isn’t giving you the business intelligence you need, you will probably need IT to change the underlying data relationships, which won’t happen overnight.
Thanks to advances in technology and airline fuel management processes, it is now possible to get clear, useful insights from your fuel data. Insights such as:
This intelligence can help you see new opportunities for efficiency and expose any vulnerabilities so you can address them.
But how is it possible to gain these insights, given the problems we’ve already outlined with analyzing fuel data? You’re going to need a cutting-edge analytics solution with some key characteristics — we’ve listed them below…
Ideally, you need a system that lets you join large datasets from many sources and interrogate all your fuel data from one place. This means being able to plug in any file or data source (even that cumbersome legacy app) with just a few clicks — without the need for IT programming or scripting.
These days we expect analytics tools to be intuitive, highly visual and above all else, useful. The best ones are able to translate terabytes of data into easy-to-understand charts, maps, gauges and pivot tables. They should create helpful connections between different aspects of the data, revealing patterns and insights.
You need to be able to create personalized dashboards and monitor the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most important to you. And most importantly, you shouldn’t need a Computer Science degree or weeks of training to be able to use the tool effectively.
Get more from your fuel data
Many leading data analytics tools now use artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to highlight potential problems, so you don’t need to go looking for them. For instance, a system can learn from previous data patterns and alert you when certain values go outside of expected norms — for example, unusually high fuel consumption figures or fuel prices.
These intelligent features can help airlines ‘do more with less’ and reduce the administrative burden on teams.
In order to be truly valuable to people, analytics tools need to offer a high degree of flexibility and customization. Afterall, airlines have different data and intelligence needs.
So, while it’s useful to have a variety of pre-built dashboards, widgets, KPIs and data relationships to get you up and running fast, you also need to have the ability to build your own.
Better still, if these dashboards, data visualizations and KPIs can be linked to user roles, then different teams can focus on what matters most to them.
We’re in the big data era, so analytics and business intelligence tools need to be powerful enough to analyze terabytes of data quickly, providing answers in seconds. That’s no mean feat!
Since the growth of mobile devices and Cloud-based technology, our working patterns have changed. We now expect to get information immediately, wherever we are and whatever device we’re on. That’s even more critical when you work in an industry which is 24/7, as commercial aviation is.
Therefore, your analytics and business intelligence tools need to work in the Cloud, on desktops, tablets and mobiles. There should be no hardware or software to install and ideally, it will be able to notify you with important updates, rather than you having to log in to check.
You may be thinking that this list of features is unattainable, unless you have significant IT resource or an endless IT budget. You’re wrong. FuelPlus Analytics includes all this and more. This advanced application is available with a FuelPlus Cloud subscription and we have affordable packages for all sizes of airline.
FuelPlus Analytics puts the power of analytics into the hands of the people using it, rather than the IT team, by offering easy customization using built-in data connectors and drag-and-drop functionality. It lets you analyze 100 times more data at 10 times the speed of current in-memory solutions, all while supporting thousands of queries. And better still, you don’t need any hardware or software to run it — it’s all part of our Cloud-based application.
If your current fuel management system or ERP isn’t enabling you to learn from your fuel data, don’t waste any more time. Watch our webinar: Get the right data, right now, with FuelPlus Analytics to find out more.