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Smarter Baggage Handling

Smarter Baggage Handling

Vanderlande Industries and IBM has helped Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport create a smarter baggage system and a more precise ability to manage the growing amount of baggage expected to pass through the airport in the future. The new baggage handling hall is part of the airport's 70 Million Bag program to increase the capacity of the airport by 40 percent to 70 million bags in the future.

Smarter Baggage Handling
Airport Schiphol is carrying out this project in collaboration with KLM, Vanderlande Industries and IBM. Vanderlande, IBM and Grenzebach Automation designed, built and tested this system, considered to be an advanced baggage handling facility, featuring space efficient applications such as robotized loading of baggage.

Through an interconnected, synchronized system every single bag can be located at any point in its journey. A 21 km transport conveyor contains innovative technology including AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System) bag storage with 36 cranes operating a fully redundant storage of over 4,200 bag positions and DCV-technology (Destination Coded Vehicles), as well as six robot cells for the automated loading of bags into containers and carts. It is expected that up to 60 percent of all baggage in the South hall will be handled by robots, which will increase productivity as well as improve the ergonomic working conditions for operators.

After check-in bags go directly into the bag storage, waiting to be loaded. Robots enable this process by pulling bags from the bag storage on-demand, and releasing baggage on the conveyor belt only when needed to prevent overload of the system. This way, the airline can handle more bags in less time, with lower cost, energy efficient and in a limited space. It enables the airport to maximize its efficiency, cost effectiveness and service levels, as well as to meet increasing sustainability demands.

According to Greg Sikes, director of systems offering strategy and delivery for IBM Rational, what stands out about this application is the just-in-time process. Not only is the system able to deal with baggage, taking it from the traveler and setting it aside, it's also able to access it and pull it for the flight when it's needed. The result is more efficiency and productivity.

"Certainly the software continues to show it's more and more the key part of being the innovation behind the system," says Sikes. "Whether it's the embedded software in the robotic devices, the scheduling program that has to deal with gate changes, the logistics and communications software, or the individual device embedded software that's dealing with individual pieces of luggage, it all shows what's possible with a very complex system of systems."
Smarter Baggage Handling

IBM Rational is providing software applications for the project that support requirements management, change management and software configuration management. They have been working with Vanderlande Industries for a number of years, which took an application lifecycle management approach and a requirements-driven approach towards this application. Another key is that the requirements management software lets the user to understand, not only the requirements, but then also to look at them from the test side and how many of the requirements are actually being tested against.

By integrating the baggage control system with passenger check-in information, the Amsterdam airport has streamlined the process for the airlines of baggage tracking and reconciling passengers with their bags. Linking into real-time flight information allows for quick off-loading of baggage when a passenger misses his flights and for redirection of bags on alternative flights when connections are missed.

The integrated system also provides accurate, up-to-date information and metrics to monitor baggage handling performance, helping managers resolve issues quickly and identify areas for improvement. Heavy baggage is handled automatically by robots that work around the clock.

Click here to see how Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is increasing capacity and improving baggage flow using smarter software.
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