Delft University of Technology
Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Transport Technology

K.H. Wallien Concept voor geautomatiseerde belading van luchtvaartcontainers met bagage.
Masters thesis, Report 2003.TL.6730, Transport Engineering and Logistics.

In this report a concept for automating a part of the baggage handling system (BHS) on airports is treated. To load the baggage on a flight leaving the airport, the baggage it is sorted by flight and is collected on a make-up point. On the make-up point operators check if the baggage belongs to the flight and then load the baggage on a transportation system. Then the baggage is transported to the airplane. For wide-body airplanes the transportation system consists of aluminum aviation containers (ULD's), which stand on a container-dolley and are brought the airplane with a trigger. The ULD is then loaded on the airplane.

This research concentrates on the loading of these ULD's, which is called 'make-up'. The 'make-up' in the current BHS is carried out manually. This manual process contains the following problems: The aim of this research is formulated as follows:
Design a concept for an automated system for loading air containers with baggage in a baggage handling system on airports.

The following preconditions apply: From analysis of the BHS, the current manual make-up process and possible future plans for BHS, the required functions have been established from the surroundings of the concept. The control of the technical components is a very important component in an automated process, because this element has to take over the task of the human brain of the operators. The different possibilities for control have been explained and following required functions have been concluded.

Different logistical concepts have been enumerated, which follow from possible material flows and handling methods for baggage. The most important criterion for the logistical concepts, the volume utilization of an ULD, has been quantified. With that criterion the logistical concepts have been evaluated. For the chosen logistical concepts several working methods for the functions have been considered. With these methods a morphological overview can be created. From this overview the alternatives for the technical concepts has been created. Finally the alternatives have been compared on the basis of a number of criteria.

The research has lead to the following conclusions:
It is not possible to design a concept for use at on all airports in the world. The characterizations of the material and information flows are too much derogatory for different situations. This research is therefore focused on devising a concept for Schiphol.

The aim of the design for the Schiphol situation is: Automate the make-up process, so that bad working conditions, cost of labor and costs lost baggage are reduced and the capacity of the process is raised.

By examining the logistical and technical possibilities of the concept two alternatives for the concept have been created:
  1. If the volume utilization is the only important criterion to choose a concept, alternative 1.3 is the most suitable. This is a concept where the batch of baggage pieces is presorted in the BHS on sequence of loading in the ULD. It does not contain a buffer for baggage pieces. The baggage is loaded in the ULD by a portal robot.
  2. If both the volume utilization and the costs for adaptations of the BHS are important, alternative 12.1 is the most suitable. This is a concept where baggage is not presorted in the BHS and for this reason does contain a buffer for baggage pieces. The baggage is loaded in the ULD with a telescopic conveyor in a portal. With both alternatives the aim of the design is reached:
    • Working conditions have improved because the workload and physical exertion for the operators have been reduced.
    • Working conditions have not been improved with respect to the surroundings of the operators.
    • The costs have been reduced, because fewer operators needed for the process and no more baggage is lost.
    • The capacity of a make-up point is raised, as a result of which the total capacity of the make-up process in BHS is raised.
    The two concepts also meet the demands which have been made by Schiphol:
    • The spatial occupation fits 13000 mm x 6000 mm.
    • All standard baggage and all ULD types which can be treated by the system.
    • The capacity of the concepts is higher than 6,4 ULD's/hour.
    The make-up process can not be automated for 100%. It continues to need work done by humans. That is caused by:
    • The lower volume utilization (85%) with respect to the current process (95%).
    • The reliability of the load, which is influenced by the form, the form consistency and the surface properties of baggage.
    The research described in this report can indicated as an exploratory research. By the analysis it is concluded which design factors are important for the loading of aviation containers with baggage. For both the logistical concepts and the technical concepts the different possibilities have been enumerated in overviews. Also it has been indicated on which choices the concepts have been based and which follow-up studies are necessary. The research gives a clear insight in the problems for designing the system and gives a broad basis for a more detailed design.

    Reports on Transport Engineering and Logistics (in Dutch)
    Modified: 2003.11.29; , TU Delft / 3mE / TT / LT.