What’s the difference between one and two-step self-service bag drop systems?

Dr Georg Oschmann: A typical one-step self-service bag drop system combines tag printing and baggage handover at a single position. Passengers are identified by their boarding pass and the system accesses all of the relevant passenger, booking and flight information from the departure control system. From there, it guides the passenger through the bag drop process, from tagging through weighing and measuring all the way to delivering the bag into the airport baggage handling system.

By contrast, the two-step bag drop process separates passenger identification and baggage tagging from assessing the bag and delivering it to the baggage handling system. It ensures bags are accepted and delivered to the baggage handling system very rapidly, as they are tagged away from the terminals.

The best choice depends on space and capacity, although passengers’ preferred service model is also an important factor. Our recent implementation at Bangalore uses the two-step model to achieve optimal speed and efficiency without compromising baggage security.

Can you tell us more about Materna’s Air.Go range?

The Materna Air.Go is a product family optimised for full selfservice bag drop implementations. The attractive design allows airport operators to integrate hardware components as required for any kind of automated bag drop solution. As such, the Air.Go product family is configurable to our customer needs for either one or two-step automation, or even a combination of both baggage drop-off processes.

The baggage detection technology used throughout the Air.Go family is particularly impressive. It allows bag tag scanning on the move or in a stationary position, and, beyond measuring baggage to the nearest gram and millimetre, it can distinguish between wheeled luggage, holdalls and backpacks. Only bags that comply with specific baggage rules are delivered into the baggage handling system.

Other Materna bag drop solutions, like the Drop.Go and Tag.Go product families, allow airports to provide self-service elements alongside traditional counter-based solutions. These systems are less automated, requiring more passenger action and staff support.

The right system will be different for each airport. Our experience with a variety of requirements and applications, as well as a wide range of hardware and software modules has really shaped the way we work with customers to decide on the optimum solution. As such, rather than selling mass-produced out-of-the-box products, we focus on meeting airport operators’ specific requirements. This is helped by the fact that all of our self-service bag drop solutions can be configured and equipped for both processes.

How does India differ from Materna’s other markets?

In every market, airports want to improve their passenger services and increase efficiency, but this is particularly important in India because airports are confronted with growth of up to 25%. There are extensive expansion plans across the country, but operators have to meet challenges of larger passenger numbers now. Often, building works just take too long. Airports need to find other ways to stay competitive. That’s where Materna’s solutions come in.

The commitment to individual service we’ve seen alongside our Air.Go systems at Bangalore airport is special. The ‘Digi Buddies’ system ensures staff are available to assist passengers using the self-service machines. It’s a particularly attentive approach to giving passengers the best service and technology, ensuring automation can happen smoothly and enjoyably, and it’s applicable everywhere.

What preparatory work do you do before installing self-service terminals?

The first and most important piece of preparatory work is getting an understanding of all relevant stakeholder requirements. These extend far beyond airline baggage rules and size and weight restrictions. We focus on baggage types, passenger security and risk of misuse or damage to luggage or self-service units, as well as staff requirements and coordination with other equipment.

The overall look and feel of a self-service experience is also an important consideration. Everything needs to fit together before you move into the installation phase.

How do solutions like Air.Go affect the rest of the airport?

Air.Go installations can have some quite remarkable effects on airport operations and user experiences. The attractive and easyto- use design of the units and their software helps passengers start their airport journey in a relaxed and smooth manner. By minimising stress factors like slow-moving queues, the technology helps passengers stay in a good mood, and allows them more leisure time to use airport facilities like shops and restaurants.

For the airport and its operation, improvements to the bag drop process may require similar optimisation of baggage transportation, sorting and aircraft delivery to achieve all of the benefits associated with a smooth self-service solution on the passenger side.

At what other locations have Materna’s self-service systems been successfully implemented?

There are almost too many to mention. It has been 15 years since Materna implemented the world´s first automated baggage acceptance system in Vienna. After more than a decade of improvements, we now provide London Gatwick with Europe’s largest self-service bag drop installation.

[Air.Go] allows bag tag scanning on the move or in a stationary position, and, beyond measuring baggage to the nearest gram and millimetre, it can distinguish between wheeled luggage, holdalls and backpacks.

In terms of airlines, Lufthansa offers a large variety of self-service solutions from Materna serving passengers mainly at Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg airports. In the US, we have just started working with Denver Airport. By 2020, they will have the world’s largest self-service bag drop system, totalling 176 Materna units.