New baggage on demand concept (pull-concept) for baggage handling conceived by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for the 70MB programme and implemented by Vanderlande Industries and Grenzebach Automation awarded innovation prize at industries’ biggest event in Munich, Germany.

The integrated robot loading concept that was implemented at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s South baggage hall to create a smarter baggage system, has been chosen as the most innovative of 27 submissions for this award. The baggage on demand concept or pull-concept using batching and automatic baggage loading robots gives airports the ability to manage the growing amount of baggage in an ergonomic and cost efficient way.

The award ceremony took place on Tuesday 11 October during the first day of the inter airport Europe exhibition, taking place in the Munich Exhibition Centre in Germany. The award was accepted by Dr. Joachim Döhner, director Airport Logistics, Grenzebach Automation, and Mr Pieter Havenaar, managing director baggage handling, Vanderlande Industries, on behalf of all the partners that have brought this new concept to life.

Mr Döhner commented "what initially was a smart idea from Schiphol, has lead to a common vision. After several years of hard work this vision has been successfully realised, thanks to the creativity, enthusiasm and perseverance of all the people involved, including specifically also our partners and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol who have joined us on this journey."

Mr Havenaar expressed his gratitude towards Amsterdam Airport Schiphol who enabled the development of this innovative baggage handling concept in the best possible circumstances and in partnership with the airport. "The cooperation between the partners in this project has led to a significant step forward in the way we approach the baggage handling process."

Baggage make-up is the loading of ramp-carts and containers, which are driven to an airplane just before departure. In the baggage on demand concept, all baggage from check-in and transferring bags are first buffered in a storage facility, and then sent to a robot on demand. The robot loads the ramp-carts and containers automatically. The logistics transport manager (LTM) manages the baggage flows in the system, and the robot replaces the muscle power of the workforce. This concept has first been deployed as part of the 70MB programme at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, is future-proof, and is intended primarily to raise efficiency and reduce heavy manual labour. The baggage on demand operation handles the bulk of the daily baggage volume.

The combination of several innovations and developments make integrated robot loading a unique product, resulting in more productivity per square metre building and per handling operator while greatly improving the working conditions, process quality and bag security at the same time:

  • Managing flight make-up based on so-called batches from a crane-racking early bag store (EBS) that guarantees individual, energy efficient retrieval per bag
  • Using fully automated robots to load bags in a predetermined sequence onto carts and into containers (first trials date back five years, but development and fine tuning of concepts and system components have resulted in drastic improvements, supporting efficient and robust operation)
  • Measuring each individual bag on its characteristics, like dimensions and weight, to determine an optimal loading / stacking pattern inside the robot cell
  • Performing the majority of the heavy work of lifting bags in ramp carts or ULDs with robots. Each robot cell can load 24,000kg per shift of eight hours and can be operated by one operator. All with much better working conditions and a so-called NIOSH value beating the normative target of the health and safety regulator