Delta Air Lines to assure environmental compliance at 100 airports, EMIS payback expected in 12 Months

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Courtesy of IHS

Delta Air Lines flies to more destinations around the world – 481 locations in 105 countries – than any other air carrier. Delta is also an industry leader in addressing environmental sustainability challenges through a variety of programs, such as its new comprehensive recycling and carbon offset conservation initiatives. Delta's commitment to environmental sustainability is especially clear throughout its operations in the United States, where it must comply with tough regulations that govern everything from aircraft and ground support equipment maintenance to aircraft fueling and de-icing. Managing all of the detailed information and processes required to assure full compliance was a major challenge... so Delta turned to ESS.

Delta's previous environmental management information system (EMIS) had performance issues – entering a simple piece of data would often take 10 or 15 minutes – but upgrading it to the company's new server platform was not cost effective. Delta's management team conducted a comprehensive search for a new EMIS and ultimately chose the Essential Suite software platform from ESS.

NESHAPS at the Technical Operations Center

Delta operates hundreds of airplanes worldwide and each of them is rebuilt every five years at the company's Technical Operations Center (TOC) in Atlanta. Aircraft maintenance and rebuilding uses many hazardous chemicals. Strict regulations govern the use, tracking and disposal of chemicals at these facilities. The EPA has issued special regulations that affect aircraft maintenance facilities known as the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Aerospace Manufacturing and Rework Facilities.

A typical manufacturing facility might have a few dozen raw materials, but Delta's TOC has thousands of chemicals that are used in small quantities throughout this operation. Each material and each use of that material is regulated in the NESHAP, so each one of these chemicals or combinations needs to be individually tracked, according to Delta's team.

'The Essential Chemical Inventory module is by far the most robust chemical data management program we found in the marketplace. It's scalable and easy to upgrade. The simplicity of the user interface and the modularity of ESS' overall offering creates an integrated system that works for everybody -the users, the I.T. department, and me,' said Jeff Nobles, project manager for Delta's EMIS.

'Now we have a world-class, best-practices enterprise computer system to manage our compliance obligations. ESS' Essential Suite platform gives us new capabilities for sharing data over long distances with data security and sustainability,' he continued.

Delta's TOC team expects that the ESS software will pay for itself in less than a year and that the entire project, including staff time, should pay for itself within two to four years.

Assuring Compliance Nationwide

Delta's corporate headquarters team in Atlanta also needed to assure environmental compliance at 100 airports across the United States where the airline operates. The Delta team at each airport location, or 'outstation', is responsible for tracking hazardous chemicals and hazardous waste, filing reports to regulatory agencies and other duties.

Delta previously depended exclusively on a manual, paper-based approach to tracking and verifying compliance at these regional facilities.

'It's the outstations where things might fall through the cracks,' Nobles says. 'Employee turnover can cause holes in the 'corporate memory' about environmental compliance deadlines or tasks, and leave fewer employees to do the work. Our station managers must handle environmental compliance issues without ever compromising safety, customer service or our ability to get planes out on time.'

Delta's selection of the ESS platform enables the airline's outstations to manage and document their compliance activities more effectively. Because the Essential Compliance Manager and Essential Task Manager software are a centralized system, Delta's corporate staff can quickly and easily see the same compliance information as the outstations located all over the country.

'Thanks to the ESS system, our station managers can focus on getting planes out,' said Nobles. 'The way I measure success is that managers at Delta headquarters can be sure that compliance tasks at the various airports are getting done. That saves us time that we'd otherwise spend auditing all of these field locations,' Nobles said.

After successfully testing Essential Suite in a series of the pilot programs, Delta now plans to distribute the system to all of its U.S. locations.

Eliminating Guesswork, Expanding Options

'Outstation personnel have been very receptive to the program because they are receiving significant value, too. ESS software takes the guesswork out of their environmental management tasks. Our station managers get to see the exact tasks they need to perform to assure full compliance. We get a higher level of confidence in reports and an ability to eliminate violations and fines,' Nobles said.

Improving Quality and Productivity

ESS' Essential Suite software has helped Delta maintain its commitment to environmental compliance while reducing the time spent on paper processes and employee management. Data storage is permanent and readily accessed; no longer left in fragile paper files or archives. As a result, the immediate exchange of information has allowed Delta's EMIS to be much less vulnerable to employee turnover and data loss.

'ESS' integrated platform is making it possible for Delta to meet its environmental compliance requirements more easily using fewer staff resources because we are managing information so much more efficiently,' Nobles continued.

'This is especially important because, over the past few years, the role of Delta's corporate environmental staff has expanded. Many of us are now also responsible for leading sustainability and corporate responsibility initiatives. ESS software allows us to focus on these issues by freeing us from data management issues.'

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