dnata selects Capita to ‘handle’ all of its requirements

dnata started its business in 1987 and today it is one of the most respected and successful independent ground handling companies in the UK.

Handling in excess of 350,000 tonnes of cargo a year from 450,000 sq. ft. of modern airport cargo terminals across the UK, dnata is one of the largest ground handling organisations, with its Ramp and Passenger operations handling 22% of passenger movements through Heathrow’s Terminals 3 and 4.


Late in 2010 dnata (previously Plane Handling) went to market to evaluate workforce management solutions as its existing system had become antiquated and unsupportable.

Employing 1,800 people over multiple terminals, dnata desired a sophisticated solution that could provide better visibility of employees in a number of areas – including worked hours; movement of employees; holiday, sickness and absence records; live skill and training records; and a staff rostering system to manage seasonal shift patterns.

After extensively reviewing the market, dnata identified our Intelligent system as the most flexible and accommodating solution available – and at a reasonable cost.

Project teams were established on both sides and we have been working together successfully since.

System overview

Intelligent Time:

With 1,800 employees managed by 50 users across 2 terminals and a handful of offices, dnata chose modern and efficient biometric terminals to avoid ‘buddy clocking’ and the age-old problem of employees forgetting their fob/card.

Whilst culturally it was a challenge to implement and time-consuming for enrolment of all staff, dnata now has peace of mind that employees are unable to manipulate the solution.

Intelligent Access:

Restricting employees’ access to certain locations was critical to dnata in order to meet health and safety requirements, produce fire roll calls in emergencies and for overall site security requirements. 1,800 people on-site are now managed and monitored by over 34 doors that restrict movement during certain times of day and deny access to unauthorised personnel in to secure zones.

Intelligent HR:

Centralising HR records on-site and moving them to a secure online platform was key to maintaining and managing a skilled workforce in a busy and dynamic working environment.

Intelligent HR gives 50 supervisors and line managers instant access to all the relevant information on any employee – including skills, training, safety equipment, job history, medical records and other bespoke information.

Intelligent Scheduling:

Every 6 months the airline companies release new flight plans and staff work patterns have to be changed and adapted to meet the new shift requirements. This is an extremely labour intensive exercise – but as part of the Intelligent solution it has been automated, ultimately saving weeks of work for dnata administrators. Using import and export routines, this process is driven by csv files and updates every 6 months, streamlining the difficult and time-consuming scheduling process.

Intelligent Export:

Running a weekly payroll for 1,800 employees is no easy task, so dnata opted to use exports from Intelligent Time to send worked hours and holiday records directly to Grampion, its on-site payroll solution. This simple action has greatly reduced the time taken to process payroll and eliminated errors.

Managed Services:

We also provide dnata with the server environment to run the above programs. Every month one of our Managed Services technicians will update and maintain the servers and infrastructure of dnata’s solution, guaranteeing reliability and removing downtime. This recent addition to our offering is proving very popular on large projects, as it simplifies the set up and architecture requirements for on-site IT teams.


Due to the nature and complexity of this project our operations team has been pushed to its limits.

Implementing a project as diverse as this  – to include Time, Access, HR, Scheduling and Managed Services elements – is taxing in itself, but having the challenge of a 6 month shift pattern change in addition puts a whole new dimension to the project.

Managing this process to ensure it caused the least disruption to the business was paramount to dnata, and we solved this by using a complex set of CSV file import/export routines every 6 months, serving to avoid manual intervention and time-consuming administration.

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