To maximize team experience with the module, the system is currently operated by as many as four employees at once, but as the system becomes more widely utilized, this number will be reduced to one or two, according to Dennenberg. The goal of Schiphol and KLM is that the gradual implementation of these advanced systems will enable the projected baggage capacity needs (70 million baggage items) to be handled by a staff roughly the same size as is currently employed. MUM is not a system designed to replace workers on the ramp, but to more effectively utilize staff and expand capability, according to Dennenberg.
MUM is the latest step in Schiphol’s widescale improvement and modernization program. The ALT conveyor system developed to carry luggage to the baggage areas is an extension of a program known as Backbone. The goal of Backbone is to create a completely integrated system of conveyors connecting the entire airport with central baggage handling. This allows detailed central control of all baggage movement, allowing fast-tracking of priority bags while storing cold baggage until it is needed, leaving the system open for more urgent use.
This integrated conveyer system has become necessary as Schiphol is quickly running out of space for expansion. The cost of land purchase and development at any airport is extremely high, but even more so in Amsterdam, whose sub-sea-level elevation requires an expensive construction process. Instead of worrying about limits to expansion, they focus on maximizing their efficient usage of existing space. By setting aside areas to hold non-essential luggage, the available channels of movement can be utilized on a priority-based system which increases turnover speed and reduces disruption. If one line fails, a backup line springs into use, and the highest priority bags are given precedence on this line until the original conveyor is back in operation. This centrally controlled and comprehensive approach to baggage management allows for optimal efficiency from the moment a bag enters the system to its delivery at the plane, according to Dennenberg.
The energy and resources Schiphol has put into pre-emptive baggage solutions have been a key factor in its development as a major hub for European air travel. With the partnership of KLM, Schiphol’s largest airline, they continually forge ahead with projects designed to increase overall efficiency. As stated by the airport in a release, Schiphol currently processes almost 50 million baggage items every year, 43 percent of which is transfer luggage. Instead of trusting their existing infrastructure to process this baggage, they have constantly striven to make the next step in handling technology.
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