Taking baggage operations to the next level requires a new attitude to innovation, integration and investment by airports. But the rewards of adopting end-to-end solutions such as Vanderlande’s BAGFLOW can be substantial and benefit passengers and employees alike, as well as the balance sheet.
As dynamic as the aviation industry is, the baggage process within airports is ripe for improvement, especially with regards to quality and efficiency. Due to the sheer number of parties and steps involved in this complex environment – as well as space shortages and labour scarcity – it makes it challenging to achieve significant improvements.
As passengers are now demanding a fully connected journey through the terminal with a minimal amount of stress, a new way of thinking is required in order to take baggage operations to the next level. That’s why Vanderlande has developed end-to-end baggage logistics – an integrated approach to the total baggage process at an airport.
“Our comprehensive approach to baggage processes has led to the creation of BAGFLOW – a modular and innovative concept that seamlessly integrates the complete journey of a bag,” says Vanderlande Commercial Solution Manager Airports Sven Platschorre. “Each of its modules can be applied on an individual basis and this approach means that airports of any size or shape can benefit from the inherent flexibility and scalability BAGFLOW offers.
“Traditionally, baggage handling automation is located inside an airport terminal. However, new technologies and Vanderlande’s end-to-end philosophy can extend this automation towards the handler process, both inside and outside the terminal.”
In order to make the required improvements in the total process, airports need a baggage system that enables differentiation in handling efficiency between ‘cold’ (early) and ‘warm’ (normal) luggage, and priority for ‘hot’ (time-critical) bags.
Introducing airport-wide baggage controls will also enable an integrated operational approach to the total process. This will provide full tracking and tracing, align passenger and bag flows, support real-time decision-making on bag flows, and allow seamless integration with external data sources to benefit the end-to-end operational control.
Furthermore, gradual automation of the ground handler processes via the integration of new technologies – from the terminal to the apron – will be a vital evolution. This can include autonomous vehicles for unit loading devices, semi-automation with speed loaders, or even robots that automatically load luggage and take the heavy lifting out of baggage handling.
Vanderlande’s approach is based on a strong collaboration with airports, airlines and passengers. End-to-end thinking facilitates a bag process that is continually in tune with the demands of airports and helps them to manage rapid growth while keeping costs under control.
Offering airports and airlines full control over this innovative, energy efficient and ergonomic baggage solution will help contribute to more sustainable operations. Passengers can also stay connected, able to see that their bags will reach their destinations on time, all contributing to a stress-free travel experience.
“The benefits of BAGFLOW can be seen right across the airport, even including the ground handlers, who will see their jobs change in a positive way,” continues Sven. “Increased automation levels will remove a lot of their heavy lifting duties, thus improving working conditions significantly. Increased automation will also allow employees to focus on bags that need special attention, which in turn will allow better performance levels and more passenger satisfaction to be achieved.”
Adding automation and switching to a ‘pull’ process offers better use of resources and saves space, and Vanderlande’s integrated VIBES software allows airports and airlines to improve bag performance. This lowers the total operational costs while creating a seamless travel experience for the passenger.
There are already several BAGFLOW robotics and batching modules in active operation at airports, while a number of modules (for example, ADAPTO BAGSTORE) have been sold and are in the process of being implemented, with several more also being trialled at various airports. Sven believes that BAGFLOW is set to be a game changer for the industry, and not only on an operational level.
“In general, we believe that operational costs will reduce with BAGFLOW as more bags can be handled by the same workforce, while the quality of processing will improve. Although investment costs may increase due to automation, this can be offset by the space reductions and lower operational costs. In the end, the business gain for each individual airport will be incredibly positive.”