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Thu 8 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Handle with care

Johan Rajczyk, international sales manager for FKI Logistex, explains how baggage handling systems of today require less maintenance and are kinder to the environment.

Johan Rajczyk, international sales manager for FKI Logistex, explains how baggage handling systems of today require less maintenance and are kinder to the environment.

How can the number of stoppages be reduced when operating baggage handling systems?

By having a high quality system you can reduce the need for maintenance and spare parts and reduce the number of stoppages. Whenever we do a project we speak to the client and help them decide if they should use their own maintenance programme or not.

The baggage handling system is a core operation in the airport; if it doesn’t work the airport will quickly come to a standstill.

We will then devise a suitable training programme for them. We also provide a total solution where we take responsibility of maintaining the sorters. For example, at Singapore Changi airport, we have an on-site organisation consisting of around 120 people doing daily operation and maintenance of the entire system.

Which airports are you currently supplying to in the Middle East?

We are in the process of supplying a system to Doha International airport, and as Abu Dhabi and Oman's new terminals near completion we are pre-qualified to prepare a proposal for both of them. Taking the decision on which systems to implement will be ongoing for the next couple of years though.

How do you decide on which systems will meet the individual requirements of an airport?

The key figure is the number of passengers that you forecast to be coming through the terminal. Then we look at redundancy. The baggage handling system is a core operation in the airport; if it does not work the airport will quickly come to a standstill.

So over the years we have developed strong measures to have redundancy built into the systems, meaning that if there is a fault in one system, you automatically switch to the fallback scenario, so you can maintain your operations.

In the design of our new sorter, the LS4000, we have ensured that if there is a single point of failure it does not bring down the whole system.

How is this achieved?

For example, the new system doesn't require a cooling fan. This is a component that can often fail and subsequently shut the system down entirely. We have developed the sorter in such a way that the cooling fan is no longer needed.

Another eye opening specification is that the sorter operates on 75% less power consumption than the previous generation of equipment. In other words, It only uses 25% of the power needed to run such a system. This means lower energy bills for airports.

Does this mean it handles fewer bags?

No, on the contrary, you can increase the speed of the sorter and therefore increase efficiency. It handles the same number of bags - more than 5000 an hour - at the same weight and the same speed as the previous sorter, but in a much more efficient way.

What other developments is FKI working on?

An increasing problem is the movement of bags from the sorting area to the aircraft. It is a hard, physical job and there is a lot of regulation surrounding the amount of weight workers are allowed to handle, so we have developed a system called RampMate.

It can handle the loading of bags into the dollies and then onto aircraft and vice versa.

This is already being used in Copenhagen airport and more airports are looking to introduce this technology because of health and safety issues. Also, there is a focus on eliminating the manual handling of bags due to airport security.

If you can keep baggage away from people then you have a more secure system. From the point of check-in, you can send baggage to the aircraft with very little interaction with humans.

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