A Greener Future

Heidi Klit, Marketing Coordinator for Crisplant AS, explains how Nanjing, a city with eco-friendly ambitions has chosen a greener baggage handling system for a new airport terminal.

1) Greener

Nanjing – literally ‘southern capital’ – is the capital of Jiangsu Province in the People’s Republic of China.  It is situated in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and is the central city of the lower Yangtze Basin. 
The city has great historical and cultural significance, having been the capital of several dynasties, and many of its historical sites are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  With an urban population of approximately five million, Nanjing is an important centre for commerce and trade in Eastern China.
Nanjing Lukou International Airport is the main airport serving Nanjing, and is situated approximately 22 miles (36km) south of the city centre.  The airport was built as a replacement for Nanjing Dajiaochang Airport, which is still used as a military air base, and was opened officially on July 1, 1997, the same day that Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty from the UK.  In 2011 the airport handled just over 13 million passengers and 246,000 tones of cargo, ranking it 13th in both categories in China.  There were 120,534 aircraft movements.
Transport to and from the airport is currently only by road, with easy access via the 18-mile (29km) airport expressway from the city centre.  However a rail link called the Ninggao Intercity Line is under construction and is due to be completed in 2014.  It will connect the airport to Nanjing South Railway Station, with transfers to the Nanjing Metro and high-speed rail lines.
The airport’s current development masterplan calls for the building of a second passenger terminal, together with a second runway and taxiway system, this year.  This expansion will raise its annual capacity to 30 million passengers, and give it the ability to handle 800,000 tonnes of cargo by 2020.
Operationally, the new terminal will be separate from the existing building but connected via a joining building in which there will be a shopping area, hotel and access to the rail system.  The new baggage system will not be linked to the one in the current terminal, which mainly operates with manual sorting.
As with many other major airport terminal expansions, an essential ingredient of the T2 project is a new baggage handling system.  Moritz Bender, Crisplant’s Sales Director for airports, explains how the Danish company became involved.
“The tender was issued by the airport authority in late 2011 and we delivered our quotation in early 2012.  In April 2012 we were nominated as the preferred supplier and spent the next several weeks visiting the airport and conducting joint cooperation with the customer, intensive design and contract clarification, following which the contract was signed in July 2012.
“The system has been designed to cope with 18 million passengers per year.  The scope of supply includes a complete baggage handling system with sorter – a total of about 200m in length – carousels, belt conveyors and a complete IT and control system.”
The airport has chosen the latest version of the BEUMER Group Software Suite featuring what the company describes as an: “ultra-modern high-level control system platform,” which will position the airport: “at the forefront of IT systems for baggage handling systems management in China.”
Construction work on the terminal is under way, with the foundations and framework already in place.  It is scheduled to open in mid-2014.  The installation and commissioning of the baggage handling system will take place this year and is due to be complete and handed over by April 2014.
The terminal will have four check-in areas with a total of 112 check-in positions.  Initially all the check-in positions will be staffed, but provision is also being made for the future implementation of bag drop and self-check-in facilities.
As is common in China, security screening is conducted on the check-in conveyor with integrated scanning machines, rather than at a later stage in the handling process.  Uncleared bags immediately progress to a manual screening area.  Cleared bags are transported via conveyor to the basement, where they are sorted to one of ten make-up carousels via a low-energy Crisplant LS-4000E tilt-tray sorter.  Also included in the system and connected to the sorter will be an early bag store with capacity for 270 bags.  The sorter will initially use standard barcodes, but provision will be made for the possible implementation of RFID.
“This sorter enables a modern terminal operation with common check-in, where every position can be used by any airline,” Mr Bender explains.  “Because the LS-4000E sorter can direct bags to all the make-up carousels, it doesn’t matter which check-in position any particular bag comes from.  Thus there will be no check-in desks dedicated to particular airlines, giving all the advantages of smoothing peak processing times, with airlines being able to operate sufficient desks as necessary to ensure good service and short waiting times.”
He says that the Crisplant system includes provision for the airport’s considerable number of transfer bags, adding: “Bags will be unloaded from the aircraft to a trolley, and then from this trolley to a conveyor line for screening that will move them on to the LS-4000E sorter.  There the bags will be read, identified, and sent to the make-up carousel allocated to the correct connecting flight.”
The execution of the project is a joint effort between a BEUMER Group team from Crisplant A S and BEUMER China.
Green growth
With the city of Nanjing having widespread eco-friendly ambitions, the airport has been keen to get a low-energy sorting system.  It is therefore perhaps not surprising that the airport chose a baggage system based on the LS-4000E which, with energy consumption 75% lower than conventional sorting systems, we believe is the greenest sorter on the market. 
“It’s really impressive how many trees and green areas there are in the city and along the streets,” says Moritz Bender.  “If you look out from the higher buildings over lower ones you soon see how many have solar panels for electricity and hot water generation.
The city’s eco-friendly progress has seen it honoured in China as a model of sustainable development, being recognised as ‘The National Park City of the Year’ and as a model city by both the National Environmental Protection Agency and the National Afforestation Agency.
“This care for and provision of a green environment is driven by the local government and then of course the same strategy is followed at the airport,” concludes Mr Bender.