Today's automated baggage handling systems play a critical role in alleviating the pressures placed on ground support personnel and in helping them increase passenger satisfaction. From check-in through screening to departure, arrival and claims, automated baggage handling systems help ground support teams around the world do their work quickly, safely and efficiently.
Modern automated baggage handling technologies range from sorting, conveying and tracking systems to explosives detection and early bag storage and retrieval. Together, the goal of a baggage handling systems provider is to make baggage handling as efficient and as transparent to passengers as possible. If things go smoothly in the baggage room, air travelers and ground support personnel have a lot less to worry about.
Automation Helps Improve Turnaround Times
Automated baggage handling systems help baggage handling and ground support personnel improve flight turnaround times. Highly accurate and efficient, automated baggage handling systems ensure the right bag goes to the right plane for the right passenger.
Baggage volume is perhaps the number one reason airports turn to automated baggage handling systems. Rising passenger traffic forces airport managers to think about improving efficiencies and assisting baggage handling and ground support crews in their daily tasks. In turn, it is the job of baggage handling providers to offer easy-to-use and easy-to-learn baggage handling systems and equipment.
Adding sortation and conveying technologies is generally the first step in the automation of a baggage handling system. However, with new government mandates for sophisticated baggage screening and explosives detection systems (EDS), these technologies are now frequently merged so that baggage sortation, conveying and screening becomes a completely in-line process that helps move baggage from check-in all the way to the ramp crews that load it on the planes.
Bar Coding and RFID
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the major advance in baggage handling technology that has emerged over the last few years. While only a handful of airports around the world are using RFID, the technology is gaining momentum as an efficient way to optimize the baggage handling process beyond conventional technology based on bar-coded baggage tags.
RFID's ascension as the preferred baggage tracking technology can largely be attributed to its ability to provide virtually perfect end-to-end sorting, tracking and tracing. Because bar code-based systems require a line-of-sight read by a laser, damaged and folded-under bag tags result in read accuracies of only 85 to 90 percent. The remaining 10 to 15 percent leaves a wide margin for error in matching bags to the right passenger and flight.
RFID-based systems, because they use radio frequency waves and do not require a line-of-sight read, are able to read bag tags from virtually any vantage point, even those lying underneath a bag. As such, RFID-based systems avoid the potential for lost luggage that can occur with bar code-based systems, ultimately increasing passenger satisfaction.
In airports with significant passenger volumes, such as Las Vegas' McCarran International (LAS) which moves 65,000 bags a day, RFID is an increasingly compelling technology. McCarran is the first airport in the world to use an ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID system for the identification, tracking and tracing of all outbound baggage. UHF RFID is considered the leading edge in secure radio frequency systems.
The Importance of Integration
While RFID is a true innovation, its application is amplified when used as part of an integrated baggage handling system. RFID's full potential can only be realized in systems with complete end-to-end integration of airline and airport systems information.