Reducing BHS Energy Consumption

May 28, 2012

ELS has been the operations and maintenance services provider for the Baggage Handling System (BHS) at Fort Myers’ Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) since it was installed in the early part of the last decade.

The BHS has more than 860 electric motors ranging in size from 2 to 7½ horsepower (480 volt, 3 phase). There are 12 ticket counter and 12 curbside input conveyors collecting bags into three primary conveyor lines. The primary conveyor lines carry bags to seven security lines, each feeding bags to one of seven L3 Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) screening machines.

Bags that are cleared exit the machines and are routed to the “clear” conveyors and ultimately sorted to the individual airlines. Bags that are not cleared by the L3 machines are routed to the “not clear”  conveyor for further processing by TSA.

Through an analysis of the BHS, ELS identified the potential to reduce energy consumption by routing bags differently during periods with lower bag volume and fine-tuning the shut down of idle sections through enhanced maintenance practices. The different routing, combined with revised PLC (programmable logic controller) programming, enables sections of the outbound system to be shut down during idle periods to conserve energy.

The BHS is certified to process 2,600 bags per hour through the L3 EDS machines. During periods of reduced baggage volume, the bags can be routed to a single bank of L3 machines, which allows much of the system to be shut down.

When the daily bag volume is forecast to be less than 10,000 items and less than 1,000 for each two hour period of the operating day, ELS reroutes the normal flow to allow the L3 machines  be shut down. 

ELS constantly monitor the bag volume to immediately return the system to a full operational status when the capacity is needed. The energy savings from these initiatives have
achieved in excess of 2,100 kilowatt hours per day, or more than 790,000 kilowatt hours annually.

This equates to energy cost savings of approximately $71,000 per year. An additional benefit not yet quantified is reduced maintenance cost for parts and labor as a result of the reduced wear and tear. The energy and maintenance cost savings are passed directly to ELS’ customer, the Lee County Port Authority, and the operating airlines.