London Heathrow Airport

Integrated solution points the way forward for Heathrow

Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports, serving 185 destinations. Enhancing its existing infrastructure is high on the agenda. As such, the airport has created the world’s largest integrated baggage system – Terminal 3 Integrated Baggage (T3IB).

Ageing facilities

One of the main catalysts behind T3IB was the need to overcome the ageing infrastructure at Terminal 3 (T3). Before work began, T3’s baggage operations were spread across four separate facilities.

T3IB was needed to combine all of the departure and arrival baggage under one roof. The airport was also keen to improve the minimum connection times between T3 and Terminal 5 (T5), and to increase its capacity.

A change in ‘philosophy’

Vanderlande proposed an integrated solution combining hardware and software. This included the introduction of a baggage ‘on demand’ – or ‘pull’ – concept.

At the heart of this concept is Vanderlande’s BAGSTORE. This allows the airport to pull bags according to individual priority. Pre-sortation has been enhanced through VERTISORTER and four HELIXORTER tilt-tray sorters.

Vanderlande’s TUBTRAX high-speed individual carrier system takes items from the BAGSTORE in yellow ‘carriers’ to a number of outputs.
During the construction of T5, Vanderlande installed a high-speed individual carrier system – BAGTRAX. This has since been connected to T3IB.

Building the ideal batch

During flight builds, Heathrow utilises three processes: fully automated robot loading, semi-automated, and manual. Vanderlande has boosted the handling operations through the delivery of robotic loading cells and 72 STACK@EASE units.

Heathrow’s operations are also benefitting from Vanderlande’s high-level IT controls software – VIBES. This makes advanced flight build preparation possible.

A perfect fit

The combination of hardware and software has delivered other advantages to Heathrow. One of the biggest benefits has been the increase in T3’s overall baggage capacity, which has risen from 5,200 to 7,200 bags per hour.

Connection times between T3 and T5 have been significantly improved, and the percentage of mishandled bags has decreased. The reduced in-system times of transfer bags has also had a positive impact.

In addition, the automated and semi-automated baggage handling devices mean that 12 million fewer physical bag lifts are needed per year.

A highly positive involvement

“We knew from T5 that Vanderlande were able to deliver a great baggage system,” says Heathrow’s Head of Baggage Solutions Ian Reynolds.

“We’ve had a close relationship with them over the years, and it was one of the main reasons we chose to work with them on T3IB.”

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