New smart camera system for the Tempest-i

Written by: JBT |
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Gary Walter, GSE Regional Director, the Americas, JBT AeroTech, speaks about the recent innovations made to the Tempest-i deicer.

What’s the latest news regarding the Tempest-i?
The Tempest-i has been evolving for a few years now. The objective of all our design enhancements has always been to make the Tempest-i easier to operate, easier to maintain, and more reliable. Obviously achieving these design goals saves users time and money and reduces frustrations with their clientele.

Long-term, our objective is to automate as much of the deicing operation as possible. We believe this is how we can bring the most value to our customers. For example, training personnel for deicing is hard and it is getting harder with changing labour markets. We want to make it easier. Deicing brings trucks and planes into close proximity. We want to make sure that both aircraft and deicer are protected from damage and that ground personnel are safe. Deicing uses glycol and other chemicals. We want to make sure the environment is protected by using optimized amounts of deicing fluids. And, we want to make deicing faster while still being safe and effective. All our design efforts are centred around these objectives which ultimately result in customer value.

One recent innovation is the introduction of a new “Smart Camera System” to the Tempest-i chassis and basket to really give the operator total awareness of his environment and target. Again, making the Tempest-i easier and safer to operate.

Tell me about Tempest i. Why is it called that?
I don’t know the exact origins of the name Tempest except the obvious reference to inclement weather and the implication that the JBT deicer is meant to help customers weather those storms. In North America, we often use the phrase, “The calm before the storm". With Tempest, we like to say it is, “The calm during the storm". When you have a fleet of Tempest deicers, you are ready to meet the blusters of nature head on and keep your operations running smoothly.

How is it different from earlier models?
The “i” in Tempest-i distinguishes the new models from previous iterations. Engineering listened to our customers and focused on simplifying operations, reducing maintenance costs, and improving reliability.

The Tempest-i really is a new deicing platform from JBT. The “i” stands for “intelligent.” The new model is more intelligently designed and built. Reliability is enhanced by the huge reduction in the number of parts used and electrical connections landed. This was an initial engineering goal. The unit is easier to maintain by “intelligent” design. We laid out the Tempest-i such that virtually all service points and access areas are at ground level. A technician can check fluids, repair components, and monitor performance while standing on the ground. The Tempest-i is much easier to operate, in either a single or dual operator mode, due to the many new operator assist and automation features added to the new Tempest-i product.

What are some of the new upgrades and stand-out features that customers like?
We believe the enhanced operator awareness and vision provided by our new Smart Camera system will be in great demand from our customers. The camera system is “smart” because it automatically switches cameras and views to cover operator blind spots based on the Tempest-i’s operational mode. When the operator reverses the deicer, a camera activates to show the operator what is behind them in that blind spot. The same process holds true for other movements. Again, we are trying to ease operations and training through automation.

A well-liked feature is the automatic park brake set. If the operator gets out of the driver's seat the park brake automatically sets. It sounds almost trivial, but in the rush of airport deicing operator’s can forget this simple but critical task. So we automatically set the park brake for them to protect people and planes alike out on the ramp.

Another great feature is what we call EZ-Boom. Controlling the extend, elevate, and left/right movements of the boom can be taxing. We simplify boom operation by intelligently moving the boom. With EZ-boom, the boom and jib are proportionally synchronised during movement. Maximum extend and height ranges are reached automatically for the operational envelope of the deicing process. And then, once deicing is done and the deicer is ready to travel or park, there is the Boom Auto Park feature which automatically returns the boom to the rest/stowed position. Again easier, faster, safer deicing operations.

We have a number of features to help with One-Person deicer operations. Being able to deice effectively with a single operator saves labour expense, training expense, and staffing headaches. But, it can be complicated. So JBT has taken steps to simplify this operation. First, the controls, especially the foot pedal controls feature a common layout and operation between the basket and the cab of the deicing truck. This minimises confusion. A second critical automation feature for One-Person deicing is our BakTrak design. This feature improves boom reach, makes operations much simpler, and increases vehicle manoeuvrability. BakTrak is a one-person operator control option that orients directional control of the vehicle to the direction faced by the operator. Directional control (forward / reverse) and steering are referenced to the direction the operator is facing. If the operator in the basket is oriented such that he is facing over the rear of the truck, forward for the operator is now oriented the same way. The operator drives forward relative to his orientation, while the vehicle below is moving in reverse. It is the operator, not the vehicle that dictates the directionality of control inputs.

Another design enhancement for increased safety and operational speed is the JBT system of 3D radars located around the vehicle and boom. When an object enters the radar’s cone of protection, the operator is notified and the vehicle slows and stops. People, planes and property around the deicing venue are protected.

There are more such as easy fluid heating technologies and glycol reduction options. It is really worth an extended conversation with a JBT sales representative to dive into all that the Tempest-i can do.

JBT has a great partnership with people like Airline Services who invested in the deicer in 2019. Are there any more exciting contract wins?
After each deice season, we gather customer feedback and collaborate with deice operators to identify the next generation of operator assist features. We also have our sales managers work with customers during the deice season to experience first hand what takes place on the ramp. Bringing all this together the JBT engineers go to work taking these observations and putting them into new options for Tempest-i users.

Has JBT AeroTech experienced a stronger year for deicer production in North America compared to last year?
The demand for Tempest-i deicers remains strong and continues to build upon the momentum we experienced in 2021. Deicer production is projected to be higher in 2022 and we began manufacturing units in January versus our traditional start up time of April / May. Seeing the supply chain struggles, we wanted to get ahead of the production curve.

What is JBT’s opinion about the deicing market in the US now that Covid restrictions have eased and air travel is ramping up?
We see strong demand in 2022 and beyond. Clearly the astonishing uptick in commercial travel and cargo operations coupled with an aging deicer fleet has created demand beyond our initial expectations. We see this phenomenon continuing into the foreseeable future.

Does JBT have enough staff to meet demand?
Yes, we do. We have several manufacturing sites globally that can help with certain production needs. We continually look for the best talent to join our team. Typically, labour is not a limiting factor in meeting customer needs.

Which markets are most important to JBT for selling their deicers?
As a global company we seek to sell our products everywhere. Of course, we face restrictions in Russia and Ukraine at present, but otherwise Europe, South America, Asia – they are all important markets. Basically wherever it gets frosty, we want to be selling our Tempest-i deicers.

How is business looking for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023?
We enjoy a really strong backlog right now and new orders continue to come in. Based on current commercial aviation and cargo markets we have a positive outlook for our business.

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