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Remote control

The use of robot sorting machinery to handle baggage operations at airports is emerging as a new trend. Gary Mason looks at two examples of the new technology in the UK, Norway and Finland.


any airports need to expand the area of their site devoted to baggage handling because of year on year increases in passenger numbers.

Traditional manual baggage hall operations require a lot of floor space to accommodate a complex sorting process dependent on flight times and fluctuating throughputs. Automating the system is a difficult problem. While

robotics are routinely used in other industries such as packaging and manufacturing, luggage tends to come in all different shapes and sizes. Christoph Oftring at Crisplant revealed to Airport

Focus magazine at the end of last year a new concept in baggage handling which will begin at the new terminal 3 building at Bergen Airport in Norway. The new concept is known as Bag Factory and treats the business of baggage handling at an airport as though it were a manufacturing plant instead of just a process including the use of robots to carry out the bulk of the loading work. “This is not something completely new because we first spoke about it at the last Inter Airport

24 / AF / January 2014

event” Oftring told Airport Focus. “But what is different with the Beumer concept is that we how have something we call ‘late build’. For the traditional batch build process you have to make the batches first in order to load them. What most airports do is to load 75 per cent of the bags straightaway but the new concept requires the loading process to go much later and for the batches to be stored somewhere so they can be loaded when required according to schedules. “We have to bring the bags somewhere but the

customer doesn’t care where once they have checked them in so we can build batches in a storage area or a baggage lane or somewhere else and then we will load the whole batch,” he says “We cannot change the passenger check in profile but we can change what I call the check out profile towards the aircraft. So if the aircraft says we need the first set of bags in one hour’s time we can build the container to allow that to happen.” Oftring says it will be easier to operate this new concept at “greenfield” terminals because it will require a

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