We recently talked to Alessandro Mastropasqua, Head of Media & Institutional Relations and Gabriele Ruggieri, Global Aviation Senior Manager of Custom. Custom is especially known for its complete solutions for the aviation industry, focusing on the simplification of all printing and control processes in airports. Custom has for more than 30 years been active in the world of retail, logistics, postal, banking and healthcare and since ten years also aviation. Custom is now active in more than 76 countries worldwide.
Gentlemen, how would you best describe the offer Custom brings to airports?
Gabriele: “I think this can best be described by following the passenger flow from the moment the passenger parks his car to the moment he boards a plane. In every step of the way you will encounter Custom. When you park you car, you get your parking ticket and when you return you get a receipt and then all the way from check-in to boarding via restaurants, baggage carts rental² or retail shops you will encounter Custom mostly without knowing.
When you go to the check in counter, you check in your luggage and have your boarding pass printed. Custom supplies printers that will print both the boarding passes and the bag tags. The same goes for self-service kiosks, which are equipped with Custom printers that will do the same in a self-service mode including printing the boarding pass, a luggage label or even printing the receipt of your excess weight, all is printed by Custom. At the gate you scan the boarding card and should you be upgraded or if the seat has changed, a small printer at the gate will print the update seating receipt. Always ideal to have it in print since in most cases your mobile has switched off so you need a real proof. So every step of the way, even if you stop at one of the many restaurants or retail outlets, Custom is taking care of the receipt.
What makes our solution so special is that we have early on in the process taken care of the environment by introducing a self-calibration functionality which avoids multiple prints that need to be made or loss of paper because of the different formats in use by the airlines or other service providers.
This approach stems from the time when airports used to manage their own counters with specific printing needs (colors, shapes,…) but when more airlines joined there was a need to share counters or construct new check-in areas which was very costly. This led to the introduction of the CUTE (Common Use Platform) approach. The Custom printers have supported this from the start with a clear focus on reducing the environmental footprint of printing by adapting the printer to the specific requirements needed. No need to modify and lose time or any other resources, the printer can handle all specific needs. The simplicity of the Custom printers creates the possibility for printing different tickets without the loss of paper and with extremely low energy consumption as Custom printers are Energy Star certified. Many airports like Stuttgart airport have done the test and have selected Custom printers as they came out as the extremely energy efficient solution helping Stuttgart airport to meet their environmental targets like Net Zero Carbon Emission by 2040³.
Can you share a few airport references of Custom solutions?
Alessandro: “Sure, in the past ten years we have introduced Custom in the world’s best known airports. From LAX and Miami to Santiago de Chile, from Singapore Changi to Munich Airport and from Johannesburg to Cairo and from Copenhagen over Keflavik and Manchester to Venice and Barcelona. We are very strong in all regions and cover top tier airports but also mid-sized airports or smaller regional airports. In Changi alone we have more than 1500 printers installed all using the self-calibration. The list reads like a list of the best airports worldwide, covering more than 100 airports in all regions.”
How important is innovation to Custom?
Gabriele: “We love to launch new ideas towards our customers, to brainstorm but also see how we can help airports improve their passenger experience. One of these new ideas – launched at the most recent PTE event in Amsterdam was the Custom locker. When travelling you don’t always feel like shopping esp. after a long trip. Based on your boarding pass data, retail outlets at airports will prepare what duty free goods you need. Your easily order them and when you arrive you pick them up from a locker at the arrival hall, that has been filled with the goods you need. Fast, simple and everybody is happy! A great solution for airports to offer to their retail outlets. The principle is based on what you see in the retail environment with examples like click & collect e.g. in supermarkets, it’s a market we know very well. The same principle of Custom Lockers can be used to charge devices like laptops or to leave luggage behind if you have a long time to spend at the airport. This is a way by which we always like to think along with the customer and see how a new business can be developed that creates value for the passenger, the airport and our organization.
Another example of innovation is our collaboration with Delta Airlines. The company planned to minimize disruptions caused by lost luggage and decided to use RFID technology in the bag tags. We introduced RFID tags for luggage tracking in Custom printers so Delta could easily locate where the luggage was. RFID made very easyhaving the luggage scanned before loading it into the plane and ensured the luggage was heading in the right direction and at the arrival agents would do the same. A development that has led to both a better passenger experience and a substantial efficiency improvement and cost saving.”
What do you consider as key trends going forward?
Gabriele: “ There are different challenges ahead. The airport needs to serve different segments of travellers, from the tourist that travels once a year and is not that technology savvy to the business traveller that is very familiar with travelling and technology, combine that with different nationalities, age categories and gender and you understand the diversity. This means that if a family travels, you need to make sure the experience runs as smooth as possible. We design our products so they can be used by different categories of people with varying knowledge of the technology, a family checking in via self service doesn’t need to think about how to put the self-printed labels on their luggage and the boarding pass needs to be printable fast and easy, requiring limited expertise. Custom printers handle “linerless bag tags” which are self-adhesive and make the really easy for families to tag their luggage. Technology needs to tailor to different categories of travellers and this is where we can help.
Many thanks Gabriele and Alessandro.
For more information on Custom, check here.