Vnukovo International Airport, one of Russia's largest airports, is located just 27km from the centre of Moscow and 11km from the ring road. It is ranked as the 3rd busiest hub in Russia and its two passenger terminals have a total capacity of more than 6800 passengers per hour. More than 200 domestic and international airlines (including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Germanwings) run over 120,000 flights per year to and from the airport. It is also Europe's busiest airport for international flights by larger private planes.
The airport has undergone extensive expansion and infrastructure improvements over the last decade with new terminals opening in 2004 and 2010 and a direct rail service now links the airport to the centre of Moscow. A new terminal is also under development and this will bring the airport's total capacity up to some 18-20 million passengers per year in 2015. In 2010 with the opening of the new terminal, the airport needed to equip more than one hundred check-in counters with printers to produce both boarding passes and bag tags.
For such a highly demanding environment Vnukovo's IT team needed to deliver a solution that was reliable, fast, easy to operate and ensured high levels of uptime. An additional requirement was that the printers should be certified to guarantee that they could work under a SITA CUTE multiuser access environment. After extensive market analysis and testing of multiple printers Vnukovo turned to Intermec to provide over 100 printer sets for the check-in counters. Each set consists of an Intermec PF4i for boarding passes and a PF2i for bag tags.
"We tested a range of printers as part of our evaluation process and a key differentiator was that Intermec printers could easily cope with the different media formats provided by each of the airlines. This means that media comes in different sizes, thickness and quality but the PF printers can easily cope with this and they continue to deliver high quality, reliable results. We have had experience of using other printers and they have really struggled with this core requirement," said Vitaliy Troshkin, Deputy CIO of Vnukovo Airport.
Airline staff can easily change the settings on the Intermec printers for quick operation with various paper formats.
"In the past, with our previous equipment, we had to contact the manufacturers each time to set new parameters of consumables or change other settings of the printers. Now we can do it ourselves. The construction of Intermec printers allows boarding passes and bag tag media to be changed easily ensuring the printer is fully available for operation and one can replace consumables easily without any help," continued Troshkin.
"Very often the manufacturer updates or recommends new versions of software and in the past the updates were only available at their service centre but with the Intermec printers this is not an issue as we are able to update software quite easily which is really convenient for us," said Troshkin.
The PF4 and PF2 printers have a built in application that is smart and provides value added diagnostic and maintenance features which significantly reduce any downtime during maintenance and repair. Technical specialists can remotely monitor and control the operation of all devices. Vnukovo have, as a consequence experienced a 30% reduction in their maintenance costs.
"When we were evaluating printers we paid close attention to the availability of such a function, but our experience shows that so far, due to reliability of the equipment, we have not had to use it!" concluded Troshkin. The availability of pre-set command languages in the printers (Fingerprint, IPL, ZSim, DSim) has also allowed for easy integration with the existing IT infrastructure of the airport.