November 2018: The innovative approach

Koen Evers, general manager, FLEET at Vanderlande, reveals why his focus is on baggage handling solutions where technical and business innovation come together.

Focused on reliable and efficient automation technology solutions for airports, Vanderlande’s baggage handling systems move 3.7 billion pieces of luggage around the world each year. Its systems are active in 600 airports and it has established a well-earned reputation over the past seven decades as a highly reliable partner for value-added logistic process automation. One of its latest innovations – FLEET – is transforming baggage handling operations.

What was the inspiration behind FLEET?

Typically, airports have to juggle various predictions when it comes to buying and installing a baggage handling system. With FLEET’s automated guided vehicles (AGVs), our aim is to deploy a flexible system that can grow along with the airport’s demands and avoid staff having to base decisions on predictions. It’s a solution that really seems to provide an answer to some of the challenges the airports are facing. We’re talking to plenty of airports about taking it to the next level and implementing FLEET in their operational environment.

What are the key benefits?

By using intelligent autonomous vehicle technology, Vanderlande’s FLEET replaces the need for most fixed conveyors and sorting systems. Each individual vehicle carries a single bag and determines the optimal route through an airport. There is no need to build total redundancy because of the AGV/ single bag design.

The vehicles’ navigation systems are programmed with a detailed layout of the airport (which includes markers, columns etc). In addition, vehicles are constantly scanning for new obstacles, such as people or equipment that might be blocking their route. When something is spotted all the other vehicles are notified.

Installation is quick and easy as most of the system is configured prior to arriving on site and there is only a small amount of equipment needed to be installed at the airport. In addition, energy consumption is 50% lower than that of traditional baggage handling systems. FLEET’s design means that vehicles can be recycled, which contributes to a circular economy.

Earlier this month Vanderlande started trialling FLEET in a live environment at Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTHA). What does this partnership involve?

It’s an exciting time for both parties. RTHA was looking for a solution that allowed for flexibility and expansion for the future. By installing FLEET, the airport will be fully automated, which allows greater certainty for the end-to-end process of baggage delivery.

For us, being operational in a live environment means our engineers will gain knowledge of actual application of our product and will enable us to identify better ways of using and applying our technology.

Why is FLEET an effective solution for smaller, regional airports?

The conventional solution for regional airports comprises a collector belt behind the check-in area, which sorts a non-redundant baggage flow into the make-up of carousels for manual sorting. FLEET reduces the need for manual handling by automating the process of sorting baggage. Plus, it provides a direct pick-up from the self-bag drops and expansion is easy as vehicles can easily be added helping to future-proof regional airports. It’s a solution that’s scalable for airports of all sizes.

What other areas of improving airport operations are you working on at the moment?

We are focused on what value autonomous vehicle technology can bring to airports. We see various applications where autonomous vehicle technology can add value, for example in the transportation and storage of Unit Load Devices.

As a company, Vanderlande also offers an automated passenger checkpoint solution – PAX OPTIMA. It’s the world’s most advanced tray return system and remote screening solution for the processing of passengers and their hand baggage in airports or other secured areas. This technology has been designed to achieve the highest screening capacity, provide a constant flow of passengers, and offer an outstanding level of security and ergonomics.

What is your message to smaller regional airports, when it comes to planning for smarter passenger and baggage processing?

Be sure you are flexible in capacity and process. It’s difficult to predict what the future will hold.

« Back to Industry Insight