Airport Baggage Handling System
Academic Session 2009-2010
Seminar Report on Automated Baggage Handling System
Prof. S. P. Untawale Project guide HOD Mechanical Department
Submitted by:Murtaza Husain V sem B-127
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I would like to express my gratitude towards the Principal, YCCE, Nagpur, for his permission for seminar. I want to thank Prof. S. P. Untawale HOD of mechanical department who has been constant inspiration and for his support and guidance. I will always remain grateful to all my teachers for their excellent support in making this seminar.
Introduction The baggage handling system at an airport plays a crucial role in keeping travelers happy. It also can make the difference in an airport's ability to attract or keep a major airline hub.
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A baggage-handling system has three main jobs: Move bags from the check-in area to the departure gate Move bags from one gate to another during transfers Move bags from the arrival gate to the baggage-claim area The measure of a successful baggage-handling system is simple: Can the bags move from point to point as fast as the travelers can? If the bags move slower, you'll have frustrated travelers waiting for bags, or bags failing to make connecting flights on time. If the bags move too fast, you might have bags making connecting flights that passengers miss. Each airport has its own requirements. For instance, the time allotted for a bag to make it from the check-in area to the gate is determined by how fast a passenger can make the same trip. In some airports, it might only be a short walk to the passenger terminal, while in others; passengers might have to take a train. The Denver International Airport (1995) had the first modern, automated baggage-handling system designed by BAE Automated Systems, Inc. This system incorporates some amazing technology to move bags from the check-in counter to the departure gate in an almost completely automated way: •
Destination-coded vehicles (DCVs), unmanned carts propelled by linear induction motors mounted to the tracks, can load and unload bags without stopping. Automatic scanners scan the labels on the luggage. Conveyors equipped with junctions and sorting machines automatically route the bags to the gate.
Role in an Airport The City and County of Denver had built a massive new airport, the New Denver International Airport. It extends over 13,568 hectares (about 53 square miles). In many ways the New Denver Airport represents a model of the airport of the future. At opening, the Airport would have cost about US $ 5 billion including the US $ 685 million contribution of the Federal Government and the over US $ 400 million investment of airlines. At the end of 1994, the bonded debt of the municipally owned Denver Airport System was more than US $ 3.8 billion. A mechanized baggage system is at the heart of the New Denver Airport, as for all major new airports. In the case of Denver, this was to be something unique: the "Integrated Automated Baggage Handling System", originally designed to distribute all baggage --including transfers -- automatically between check-in, the aircraft and pick-up on arrival. Unfortunately, massive problems plagued this automated baggage system. Consequently, the New Denver Airport did not open in October 1993 as scheduled. The delay was around 16 months. This delay costs the owners a lot. The interest on their bonded debt exceeded US $ 271 million for the single year of 1994. The costs of maintaining the new airport are extra. A commonly accepted estimate of their costs of delay, endorsed verbally by officials in Denver, has been US $ 33 million a month. By March 1995, the delays may thus have cost them around US $ 500 million. A year after the original opening date for the airport, the City and Country of Denver borrowed a previously unscheduled US $ 257 million. The above example explains the position and role of baggage handling system in an airport. A miscalculation on the part of the designer costs Denver a huge inexcusable, uncalculated sum. The repaired baggage handling system was unable to deliver the promised productivity and efficiency that they had bargained for. Malfunctioning of such a vital system cost valuable time and money and most importantly causes negative publicity among the passengers.
Check-in When you check in, the agent pulls up your itinerary on the computer and prints out one or more tags to attach to each of your pieces of luggage. The tag has all of your flight information on it, including your destination and any stopover cities, as well as a bar code that contains a ten-digit number. This number is unique to your luggage. All of the computers in the baggage-handling system can use this number to look up your itinerary. Your bag's first stop (after check-in) is at an automated bar-code scanner. This station is actually an array of bar-code scanners arranged 360 degrees around the conveyor, including underneath. This device is able to scan the bar codes on about 90 percent of the bags that pass by. The rest of the bags are routed to another conveyor to be manually scanned. Once the baggage-handling system has read the 10-digit bar-code number, it knows where your bag is at all times. Conveyors take each bag to the appropriate destination. For example, it routes bags headed out of the country through X-ray machines and other security devices.
Conveyors The conveyors in the main terminal of the Denver airport comprise a huge network. There are hundreds of different conveyors with junctions connecting all of them. The conveyor system has to sort all of the bags from all of the different airlines and send them to DCVs that are headed to the proper terminal. Once your bag has been scanned, the baggage-handling system tracks its movement. At any time, it knows exactly where your bag is on the conveyor system. When your bag comes to a junction, a machine called a pusher either lets it pass or pushes it onto another conveyor. Through this network of conveyors and junctions, bag can be sent to nearly any destination automatically. The last step in the main-terminal conveyor system is a conveyor that loads your bag into a passing DCV. This step is the equivalent of a highway on-ramp. The DCVs unloads they move past the unload conveyer. By this point bag is very close to the plane.
DCVs The job of the destination-coded vehicle (DCV) is to move bag quickly to an off-ramp at the gate. DCVs are used at the Denver airport because the distance from the main terminal to the passenger terminals is quite long, and passengers make the commute fairly quickly by train. The DCV can travel up to five times faster than a conveyor -- almost 20 mph (32 kph). The DCV is a metal cart with wheels on the bottom and a plastic tub on top. Its only electronic device is a passive radio-frequency circuit that broadcasts a unique number identifying that particular car. This is similar to the circuit inside anti-shoplifting devices. The DCV rides on a metal track, like a roller coaster. It is propelled by linear induction motors mounted to the track. Unlike most electric motors, a linear induction motor has no moving parts. It uses electromagnets to build two magnetic fields -- one on the track and one on the bottom of the DCV -- that are attracted to each other. The motor moves the magnetic field on the track, pulling the DCV along behind it at a high rate of speed. The main advantages of this system are its speed, efficiency, durability, precision and manageability.
Loading the Plane There is an off-ramp at every gate in the terminal. The bags make their way down a short conveyor to a sorting station on the ground at the gate. At the sorting station, baggage handlers load the bags onto carts or into special containers that go right into the airplane. When loading the plane, bags that will be making a transfer after the flight are loaded into separate areas than bags that will be heading to baggage claim. A monitor at the sorting station tells the handlers which bags are going where. After the bags are loaded into carts or containers, they are brought the short distance to the plane and loaded. Some planes are bulk loaded, meaning the bags are brought up one-by-one on a conveyor and placed into shelves in the cargo hold. Other planes are container loaded, meaning that special containers are loaded on the ground and then placed into the plane.
Making Transfers In a hub, most of the people coming through it are making transfers. Again, the goal of the system is to have the bags keep up with the passengers. Generally, the people can get off the plane faster than the bags can be unloaded, so for the bags to keep up they need to be able to move between gates very quickly.
The terminals are about .6 mi long (1 km) long, and some bags may have to travel that whole distance. The terminal has two separate DCV tracks that make loops around the terminal in opposite directions. The transferring bags are loaded onto conveyors, where they move through scanning stations and then are routed onto the DCV track. The DCV takes the bags to the proper gate and unloads them.
Baggage Claim Bags coming off a plane that are staying in Denver are loaded into carts and pulled by tug to the baggage-claim area. Since the bags are already sorted when they come off the plane, it is easy to keep the transferring bags separate from the terminating bags. When the bags get to the baggage-claim area, they are loaded onto a short conveyor that deposits them onto the carousel.
Problems of Automation Initial problem faced by the baggage handling system of the Denver airport were that baggage carts have jammed in the tracks, misaligned with the conveyor belts feeding the bags, and mutilated and lost bags.
Deeper Problem of Reliable Delivery There is a deeper, fundamental problem associated with all complex systems of handling baggage, cargo or materials. The more extensive and long-term difficulty is that of "reliable delivery times". The fully automated system may never be able to deliver bags consistently within the times and at the capacity originally promised. This difficulty is a consequence of the extreme complexity of its design combined with the variability of the loads. The entire system consists of well over a hundred waiting lines that feed into each other. For example, bags can only be unloaded from the aircraft and put into the system when the unloading conveyor belt is moving, this belt will only advance when there are empty carts on which to place bags, empty carts will only arrive after they have deposited their previous loads and have proceeded through the system, and so on. In short it is a complicated "cascade of queues". The patterns of loads on the system are highly variable. These depend on the season, the time of day, the type of aircraft at each gate, the number of passengers on these aircraft etc. There may be over a thousand reasonable scenarios! Managing a complex network of interacting, fully loaded queues efficiently for any single scenario is complicated. Managing these flows under all the realistic scenarios is exponentially more difficult.
Difficulties in "Line Balancing" The complexity of a fully automated system leads to tremendous difficulties in trying to achieve reliable delivery times. To guarantee acceptable delivery times under all circumstances in a network of queues such as at Denver, it is crucial to control the capacity of the system so that all lines of flow have balanced service. This is the "line balancing" problem. Conceptually, the problem of "line balancing" is simple, once one thinks about it. As the name suggests, the issue is to provide equally good service to all lines, in the case of Denver to provide sufficient empty carts to each of the conveyor belts that feed bags onto the system of carts. The point of this is to avoid situations where some lines get little or no
service, to avoid the possibility that some connections simply do not function. This kind of failure can easily happen in any system where a common artery serves many demands. Most people have experienced the difficulties that arise when line-balancing has not been achieved. Think of the times you could not get on a bus because it was crowded by people who had boarded at earlier stops. The problems of line-balancing are common and should be well-known to all systems designers. The solution to the line-balancing problem is to control the "empties", to make sure that there is enough space available, at the right time, to all users of the system. Specifically for the fully automated baggage system originally planned for Denver, the crux of the solution is to devise control systems that will deliver enough empty carts to all the conveyor belts delivering bags to the system. Solving the line balancing problem efficiently can be very difficult. This is especially true for complicated systems such as Denver, with highly variable flows on close to 100 independent lines of access. This is where the complexity of the fully automated baggage system originally designed for Denver has a major impact. The difficulty in solving the line balancing problem increases exponentially with the number of lines or queues requiring service.
Latest Development The baggage handling system at Heathrow T5 is part of BAA's £900million baggage improvement plans to make it the largest baggage handling system in Europe for a single terminal. There will be two systems including a main baggage sorter and a fast track system. It will have underground tunnel connecting terminals, and an underground baggage storage area which will store trolleys containing transfer baggage. The system was designed by an integrated team from BAA, BA and Vanderlande Industries of the Netherlands, and will handle both intraterminal and inter-terminal luggage and will actually process 70,000 bags a day. Bags undergo several processes on the way through the system including automatic identification, explosives screening, fast tracking for urgent bags, sorting and automatic sorting and passenger reconciliation.
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