Who does not know the endless lines at the baggage counter of an airport? But help is on its way. Just as you can scan your own items at the supermarket today, it will be possible in future to check in your baggage at the airport yourself. Sensor technology from SICK has a significant share of this innovation. (with video)
At the Air France check-in area of Orly Ouest Airport, the ALSTEF Company has installed five automatic baggage check-in counters, the so-called Bag Xpress systems. The company based in Boigny-sur-Bionne specializes in the development and installation of automated systems for logistics, industry, and airports (baggage handling, sorting, and control) and has already put into operation more than 400 automated systems worldwide.
Checking in within 20 seconds
In 2010, Paris airports (ADP) decided together with Air France to offer airlines a new service. The aim was to shorten waiting times, and for this purpose, a search was commissioned. The requirements are high: The system has to reduce the baggage check-in process to less than 20 seconds. Until now, the process took one minute at a counter staffed with personnel.
This constitutes a difficult task for the project team as the highly complex process includes:
- Passenger identification based on his or her boarding pass
- Placement of the luggage in the BAGXpress in a vertical position
- Closing the BAGXpress
- Checking fluctuations in the luggage
- Checking the dimensions of the luggage
- Weight check
- Reading the bar code or RFID tag
- Feeding the luggage into the baggage handling system and printout for the passenger
And all that was required in a compact system because space is very limited at airlines’ check-in areas. For successful implementation of the project, ALSTEF employed the expertise of various firms and in particular that of SICK.
A challenging task solved with flying colors
The list of requirements called for identification by a device capable of reading bar code or RFID tags. The read rate for bar codes needed to be more than 95 %, regardless of the position of the baggage tag on the piece of luggage. Following intensive research regarding the selection of bar code scanners and antennas as well as their optimum positioning in the baggage check-in system, the cooperating companies joined to settle on a design.
Bar code identification is carried out using a network of CLV651 scanners connected to the MSC800 Modular System Controller. RFID reading is implemented by antennas and an interrogator. The MSC800 collects the data of both identification systems that differ in terms of technology, transmitting only an evaluation of these data to the controller that is higher level to the MCS800.
To prevent the risk of jamming or an accident when closing the BAGXpress, safety light curtains of the miniTwin product family were integrated in the door. The miniTwin is the only system on the market that is particularly narrow, has no blind spots, and is cascadable. These are three distinct advantages for the complex task.