Vanderlande Industries and IBM helped Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to create a smarter baggage system at baggage hall South that gives more precise ability to manage the growing amount of baggage that is expected to pass through the airport in the future.

The new baggage handling hall, which is located to the south of Departure Hall 1, is part of the airport’s 70 million bag (MB) programme to increase the capacity of the airport by 40% to 70 million bags in the future. It will help handle the expected further growth in passenger and baggage flow at Schiphol Airport. The new hall, with its 15,000m2 surface (equivalent to 9 square miles of surface), is able to facilitate the baggage handling for several airlines for both check-in and transfer baggage.

“The South hall baggage system is an important part of the airport’s strategic 70 million bag programme to create an efficient, reliable and fast baggage handling process,” said Mark Lakerveld, senior baggage manager at Amsterdam Airport. “It will support Schiphol to remain Europe’s preferred airport and to maintain its mainport function.”

Fitting out the new baggage handling hall for South was the first major step of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol 70 MB programme which has been set up to increase the baggage handling capacity to 70 million bags in the future. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is carrying out this project in collaboration with KLM, Vanderlande Industries and IBM. Vanderlande Industries, IBM and Grenzebach Automation designed, built and tested this system that is considered to be the most advanced baggage handling facility, featuring space efficient applications with robotised loading of baggage.

Through an interconnected, synchronised system every single bag can be located at any point in its journey. This 21KM transport conveyor contains innovative technology like AS / RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System) bag storage with 36 cranes operating a fully redundant storage of over 4,200 bag positions and DCV-technology (Destination Coded Vehicles), as well as six robot cells for the automated loading of bags into containers and carts. It is expected that up to 60% of all baggage in the South hall will be handled by robots, which will increase productivity as well as improve the ergonomic working conditions for operators.

After check-in bags go directly into the bag storage, waiting to be loaded. Robots enable this process, by ‘pulling’ bags from the bag storage ‘on-demand,’ releasing baggage on the conveyor belt only when needed to prevent overload of the system. This way, the airline can handle more bags in less time, with lower cost, energy efficient and in a limited space. This enables the airport to maximise its efficiency, cost effectiveness and service levels, as well as to meet increasing sustainability demands.

By integrating the baggage control system with passenger check-in information, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has streamlined the process for the airlines of baggage tracking and reconciling passengers with their bags. Linking into real-time flight information allows for quick off-loading of baggage when a passenger misses his flights and for redirection of bags on alternative flights when connections are missed. The integrated system also provides accurate, up-to-date information and metrics to monitor baggage handling performance, helping managers resolve issues quickly and identify areas for improvement. Heavy baggage is now handled automatically by robots that work around the clock.