Vanderlande’s future-proof baggage logistics solution FLEET has begun live operations at Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTHA) with an historic three-month readiness test period. During this time, it will operate in live conditions. The joint innovation programme also involves RTHA and Aviapartner, and will strongly contribute to each organisation’s strategic objectives.

A letter of intent was originally signed between Vanderlande and RTHA (part of the Royal Schiphol Group) in March 2018. This was aimed at improving the baggage handling process at the airport through the use of intelligent autonomous vehicle technology. FLEET is a flexible, end-to-end solution that replaces the need for fixed conveyors and sorters. Each individual vehicle carries a single bag and determines the most optimal route through an airport.

In line with its forward-thinking approach, RTHA will gain valuable insight in the potential applications for innovative technologies such as FLEET, as well as improve its performance. As the airport’s handler, Aviapartner will benefit from the efficiencies of automatic sortation carried out by the FLEET system, while its operatives can enjoy the positive impact of an ergonomic baggage loading process during flight make-up.

The agreement is a major milestone for Vanderlande, which will be able to validate FLEET’s reliability in a live, real-world environment and make this solution an essential part of daily activities within an airport.

Sustainability will also be prominent during this period. For example, the energy used by FLEET vehicles is initially generated by solar panels, helping to create a zero-emissions baggage handling solution at RTHA. Their design also means that the vehicles can easily be recycled, contributing to a circular economy.

"We have been very much looking forward to this moment and are confident that FLEET is ready for an operational environment," says Vanderlande’s executive vice-president of Airports and member of the board Andrew Manship. "The programme is a tremendous example of how Vanderlande and its partners can bring cutting-edge innovations to life in a situation where high performance, efficiency and reliability are essential.

"However, it’s not just the technology involved that is important to Vanderlande. With FLEET, we’re also rethinking how to deliver true value and flexibility. As part of this joint innovation we’re discussing exactly how the future delivery of this ‘as a service’ new business model for the airport could be.

RTHA’s Director Ron Louwerse also has high expectations for the joint innovation programme: "We are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. By having FLEET commence live operations, we are taking a major step forward and are confident of realising a number of operational benefits. This will help contribute to RTHA’s sustainability ambitions in terms of energy usage, and will also align with our vision to be more than just an airport, but also a hub for innovation and education."