Delivering for a New T2

A computer-generated view of how Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 will look after the completion of Phase 1. (BAA)

Tom Allett spoke to Matthias Sitzmann to find out how Siemens is managing the complex task of delivering baggage continuity during BAA’s development of the future Terminal 2.

The Mezzanine Level elevation detail from Phase 1 of T2A. (Siemens)

After more than 60 years of operation, London Heathrow’s Terminal 2 (T2) and the adjacent Queen’s Building (QB) have been demolished and, in a phased approach, will eventually be replaced by a single new structure.  Being built in a modular style, similar to that employed in the development of the airport’s Terminal 5; this facility will eventually be the home of the Star Alliance and, in its ultimate form, cover the combined footprint of Heathrow’s existing Terminal 1 and its former T2 and QB.  According to BAA, it will offer: “extraordinary runway views and brand new accommodation for new-generation aircraft.”
However, no matter how impressive the architecture is, when it comes to passenger satisfaction it is the operational efficiency that will determine how most people rate their travel experience and, in many ways, the baggage system is effectively the backbone of every airport’s operation.  BAA recognises this and states that at the new T2 those passengers checking in their bags: “will have access to the latest in self-service technology and fast bag drops, getting their journey off to a smooth start.”
Design work on what was originally referred to as the Heathrow Eastern Campus; including the new T2 (which was originally known as Heathrow East) began in 2007.  However, demolition/construction was deferred by about a year, finally getting under way in 2009.  The task is part of a far wider £2bn redevelopment plan for Heathrow, a segment of which is resulting in Terminal 4’s baggage system being enhanced.
Matthias Sitzmann from Siemens’ Heathrow Baggage Team has been working on the project for almost two years now.  He explained that, for Siemens, the baggage integration project began in the spring of 2010.  It is a task that involves working with other Heathrow baggage providers, Babcock and Logan Teleflex, who would normally be regarded as competitors.
Mr Sitzmann said that Siemens’ role is to select the manufacturers that will provide the best combination of technical and value-for-money solutions, be they from Siemens itself or other leading baggage system manufacturers.  He adds that although this isn’t the biggest baggage project Siemens has worked on, it is nevertheless: “very complex” and around 140 staff are employed on the project.
Phased Tasks
Work to upgrade the hold baggage security screening by introducing 20 new explosive detection machines is already well under way.  The process at T4 and T1 began in June and September 2010 respectively and will enable Heathrow to achieve compliance with the new screening legislation stipulations that the next generation of hold baggage screening machines must be utilised.  This legislation will come into effect in 2012.
A computer-generated view of how Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 will look after the completion of Phase 1. (BAA)

Phase 1 of the Heathrow redevelopment project, due for completion by early 2014, involves creating the first segment of the new Terminal 2 within the 1.9 million sq ft (185,000m2) footprint of the old Terminal 2 and Queen’s Building.  When Phase 1 is complete passengers will check-in their bags inside the new facility, but their luggage will then be transported over to the existing T1 for processing via a new bag collector system that will be supplied by Siemens.
In order to cope with the future demand of Terminal 2, the existing Terminal 1 system will also be upgraded, the throughput capacity improved and both systems integrated into one IT environment.
Phase 1, Mr Sitzmann explains, will require 116 check-in desks, 1,500 conveyors, plus eight international and two domestic arrival carousels.
Phase 2 will require additional check-in desks and in excess of 12,000 conveyors.
Also part of Phase 2 – and vital to the implementation of a fully integrated baggage system between Terminals 1, 2 and 4 – is the upgrade of the existing tunnel baggage system which connects T1 and T4.  With a fully upgraded tunnel baggage system, additional integral functional elements can be introduced, such as a shared bag store that will enable all T2’s passengers to check-in up to 24 hours in advance.
With these measures, the Terminal 2 and Terminal 1 baggage systems will become one fully integrated end-to-end baggage facility.
In terms of size and complexity Mr Sitzmann believes the Phase 1 and 2 tasks are broadly similar to the recent baggage projects that were undertaken at Dublin’s T2 and Heathrow’s T5 respectively.  At the time of writing (January 2011) the formal completion date for Phase 2 had yet to be set but it is expected to be in 2020.
Though the new T2’s capacity could ultimately reach 30 million passengers per year, BAA says its introduction will not increase Heathrow’s overall capacity or lead to additional flights, and adds that it is: “excited about the construction of this new facility, providing the latest in airport technology.”