A Regional View

Crisplant’s Johan Rajczyk explains how the growth in passenger numbers and the latest security screening standards at regional airports are dictating the need for more high-speed, secure baggage handling, which is not only cost-effective, but also combines energy efficiency and space-saving features.

Despite the recession, regional airports are doing well and having to modernise, update and invest to remain competitive and efficient.  Over the last decade the growth in flights has been rapid, but many smaller regional airports were never built to handle the number of passengers they are now accommodating.  Therefore, they have had to create long-term investment plans to deal with the growth which often includes expansion of the terminal, better technical infrastructure and improved security.
Many regional airports still operate a manual baggage handling system, but now see the need to adopt automated baggage handling to keep up with the increased passenger traffic and to remain competitive.  Regional airports, however, have very different needs: baggage handling systems designed for large hubs simply aren’t applicable to regional airports.
One key element is that regional airports don’t normally have a lot of room in which to install new baggage handling systems.  Cost is obviously another important factor: initial and operating costs must be kept low and, obviously, smaller airports will have fewer technical staff than large hubs.  This means that any new automated baggage handling system must optimise the existing available space as well as have a low capital investment, easy out-of-the-box installation and low operating costs.  Regional airports are adopting new technology and are looking to install advanced, high-speed baggage handling solutions that can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure and available space.  They are focussed on energy-saving technologies: with regional airports often situated in areas of high industrial growth where there is pressure on them to strengthen their green profile, so finding ways to cut CO2 emissions is vital.
Another driver is the need for increased security.  The latest baggage handling technologies must integrate with existing security systems and allow airports to comply with new standards for screening.
To meet these demands we have introduced the latest member of the LS-4000 family, the LS-4000econ, specifically for growing regional airports.  Using technology that has been field-proven in major airports around the globe, the LS-4000econ integrates a loop sorter, inductions, chutes, conveyors and controls into a space-saving footprint that enables regional airports to improve their baggage handling efficiency and security, whilst reducing costs and minimising CO2 emissions.
Regional airports would often be forced to choose a conveyor-based baggage handling solution as a loop sorter would simply be too advanced and expensive for their needs, but with the LS-4000econ, they can have the high-speed sorting functionality on a smaller scale.  And the LS-4000econ is modular too, providing airports with flexibility to adapt to passenger and airline needs.
As well as having an ultra-small footprint, the LS-4000econ incorporates what we believe is the industry’s most energy-efficient drive system based on linear synchronous motors.  This enables airports to cut energy consumption by 75% compared with sorters driven by linear induction motors.  It has also been designed to integrate fully with Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) allowing airports to comply with new security screening standards.
Security is constantly becoming more stringent and baggage handling technology must make it easy for airports to comply with the latest procedures.  For example, baggage handling systems must now fully integrate with EDS to enable airports to adhere to the new TSA ECAC and EU standards for screening.  The LS-4000econ has been designed to do this in a particularly effective way.  The control system makes sure that the load is balanced between available screening equipment, so if one machine is working slowly or there is a hold-up, the allocation is spread between other machines automatically.  This provides the added benefit of helping to reduce the total number of EDS machines that are required.
Of course, no two airports are the same, whether you’re talking about available space, passenger throughput or destinations.  That’s why we have designed the LS-4000econ to be based on standard modules, meaning the system can be configured to fit the specific footprint, baggage handling capacity and number of destinations in each airport.  It’s an automated system which is virtually out-of-the-box, so installation is fast and the LS-4000econ can be integrated into existing systems with little or no disruption to the normal operation of the airport.
What’s more, being a member of the LS-4000 family of sorters means that the LS-4000econ system is particularly future-safe.  Whenever improvements are made to the standard product, these will flow down to the econ too, meaning that the platform for all of our sorters incorporates the same proven technology, no matter which option an airport takes.
Looking forward, we see airports operating a higher baggage throughput so there will be a requirement to optimise their available space, without the need for new buildings.  With increasing numbers of passengers passing through airports across the world, we believe they will be looking to achieve greater flexibility in their existing environment, which calls for a modular baggage handling system design; one that can be integrated quickly and efficiently, yet adapt as capacity increases.  We also see more focus on OPEX: life-time cost; power consumption and spare part consumption, driven by political regulations and a demand for sustainability.