Sandra Pittner from Siemens’ Mobility division explains how the company has achieved green and efficient baggage handling through its Baggage Base IT.
IT is the ‘brain’ behind any baggage handling system. This is where bag sorting is managed and the associated business processes and equipment are monitored and controlled. Without this central element of the baggage handling system (BHS), no item of luggage would ever end up on the right aircraft at the right time. Luggage would be misrouted and suitcases would take unnecessary detours or perhaps not even reach their destinations at all. Expensive mechanical sorting equipment would be used inefficiently and money would be wasted.
Innovative and reliable IT is the key to avoiding this, which is why Siemens has developed Baggage Base IT (BBIT). Baggage Base IT is integrated, component-based software that ensures the system’s throughput is optimized in a reliable, cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. Suitcases are loaded on to the right aircraft, arrive at the right destinations at the right time and passengers are satisfied.
In the past few years, the number of passengers and thus also the amount of luggage has constantly increased while baggage handling capacity at the airports has often remained the same. This means that capacity limits have already been reached or will be reached in the near future. Despite all these problems, airport operators must make sure that baggage handling and sorting continue to work reliably, even without large investments in a new sorting system. Baggage related business processes need to be performed efficiently and reliably, especially taking into account a flexible management of dynamically changing security regulations. An IT retrofit to update the baggage handling system software is recommended to improve management of existing capacities with a rising number of baggage items.
BBIT – not only for Siemens systems
For these purposes Siemens has developed Baggage Base IT, a software suite that is universally applicable to baggage handling systems and is unique on the market.
The software helps to ensure that the mechanical parts of a system convey, sort and screen baggage reliably and quickly and, if required, store it until departure. Operators can clearly monitor the entire process. With BBIT from Siemens, both Siemens and third-party baggage handling systems can be integrated into a high-level control system. The existing components of the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are the most important interface in this context. These must be connected to the new IT system, just like the handling facilities are. Intelligent Software Interpreters ensure interfacing to the productive control systems.
IT retrofit – like open heart surgery
Normally, it isn’t possible to stop a live baggage operation in order to introduce a new improved IT system, so its introduction is something like open heart surgery. Careful system analysis at the start of the project followed by and a well-coordinated and detailed transition procedure involving the various stakeholders (airport operators, airlines, ground handlers, maintenance organization, etc.) are therefore essential key elements for the transition over to a live operation. Both the old and new IT applications must run in parallel during the transition phase. To ensure fail-safe delivery during the baggage handling systems’ IT retrofit, Siemens developed various proven scenarios to ensure there are no hitches.
In future, the Baggage Base IT system can handle changes to an airport BHS’ operating procedures – for example, due to new security screening legal requirements – easily by re-configuration instead of re-programming. This is an essential aspect when considering the IT system’s lifetime costs.
BBIT reduces energy requirements
Baggage system’s power requirements can be reduced, not only by introducing technology items such as trays, which require less energy to keep moving, but also by retrofitting BBIT. Thanks to the improved and innovative software, the trays of baggage items are routed as efficient as possible using in-line energy saving algorithms, which obviously reduces the system’s power requirements.
The intelligent BBIT software also ensures the optimum tray allocation of trays within the BHS and, for example, prevents energy wastage by ensuring that trays are not being moved around the system when not in use.
Professional product life-cycle management
Siemens provides expert service throughout the entire IT life cycle. Baggage Base IT product development is performed centrally, which means that one product platform is supplied as the basis for all projects worldwide. A defined work processes ensure that innovations developed for a special purpose will be made available to all customers. A reliable long-term partnership with a stable supplier is thus guaranteed and will contribute to optimum lifetime costs.
Good reasons for Baggage Base IT:
- Investment protection because Siemens has been a stable and innovative partner for years and will remain so in the future
- BHS throughput improvement and optimization thanks to state-of-the-art software
- Flexible deployment features support a fast and efficient adaptation of business process changes
- Continuous innovation of Baggage Base IT functionality
- Ready for innovative RFID identification
- Extensive airport know-how and setting of standards in cooperation e.g. as a associated member of IATA
- Comprehensive retrofit experience
- Reduction in energy consumption