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Innovations in Belting Systems for Future Airport and Airline Baggage Handling Operations Energy Efficient Conveying for Airports The Case for New Technologies Is it Time to Upgrade Your Baggage Handling System? Saving Energy and Money New Technologies for a New Future

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Published by Global Business Media



Innovations in Belting Systems for Future Airport and Airline Baggage Handling Operations Energy Efficient Conveying for Airports


The Case for New Technologies Is it Time to Upgrade Your Baggage Handling System? Saving Energy and Money New Technologies for a New Future



Tom Cropper, Editor

Energy Efficient Conveying for Airports


Kay Bärenfänger, Industry Segment Manager – Airports, Ammeraal Beltech

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

Optimising Efficiency Long-Term Energy Savings Considerable Power Saving Possibilities with an Integrated Approach Field Proven Minimising Energy Use It Begins With Belts Leaner Design Proper Power Promises or Results? Customer Satisfaction The Right Choice

Publisher Kevin Bell

The Case for New Technologies

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Tom Cropper Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

© 2015. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.


Tom Cropper, Editor

The Economic Climate Environmental Legislation Passenger Satisfaction

Is it Time to Upgrade Your Baggage Handling System? 8 Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Cost savings Environment Reliability Health and Safety

Saving Energy and Money


James Butler, Staff Writer

A Hidden World Reducing Power Output Power Transition

New Technologies for a New Future


Tom Cropper, Editor

Future Trends Environmentally Friendly Manufacture of Belts

References 14



Foreword L

ET’S FACE facts – passing through an airport

We’ll then look more closely at the wider commercial

terminal is never going to be one of life’s

environment. Booming passenger numbers place a

pleasures. Every step of the journey contains its

strain on airport capacity. Tightening environmental

own potential for delays, stress and frustration.

regulations and profit margins mean every tiny gain

The baggage conveyor belt is one of the biggest

can contribute to an enormous difference. We’ll look

offenders. Time spent waiting here, when the

at the challenges facing manufacturers and some of

finishing line is in sight, can seriously spoil our day.

the innovative solutions they are finding to meet them.

In addition to this, the cost of running these systems

Finally we’ll cast our eye to the future. With passenger

can have a detrimental impact on running costs

loads expecting to increase dramatically over the next

and profitability. Anything that can reduce power

couple of decades, airports will need to be fighting

consumption, energy wastage, maintenance and

fit for what’s coming. Every aspect of the operation

manufacturing costs, can deliver significant benefits

– no matter how small – will need to be working at

to the airport. The conveyor belts in airports can play

maximum efficiency.

a significant role in this, but they are often overlooked. In the first article in this report, Ammeraal Beltech demonstrates why aspects which are often overlooked can hold the key. They will show how the design of the belt, the motor and the material from which the conveyor belt is constructed can all play an important role in minimising energy use and cost.

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.



Energy Efficient Conveying for Airports Kay Bärenfänger, Industry Segment Manager – Airports, Ammeraal Beltech An holistic approach to achieving long lasting Energy and CO2 efficiencies


IRPORTS AROUND the world are expanding, both in size and in capacity, as more and more travellers take to the skies. The upswing in passenger numbers shows no sign of abating and, as it moves into the future, the airport industry is faced with a bright but ever-demanding consumer market. Successful airports of tomorrow will meet the challenges of this increased desire for travel in ways that enhance both their public image and their bottom line.

Optimising Efficiency As they prepare for the future, airport operators will need to manage their resources as wisely as possible, getting the most for what they invest. One important area where airports can look to maximise efficiency is in baggagehandling. Any gains achieved here will have major positive effects on overall airport operations, and innovative technology is continually offering scope for improvement in baggage-handling systems.

Considerable Power Saving Possibilities with an Integrated Approach The right belting solutions for baggage-handling systems can play a crucial role in energy savings, provided they are part of an integrated approach. All good belting solutions begin with a particular belt, one best suited for the task at hand. The selection of this belt is an important step in building the best possible system, but it is only the first step. At Ammeraal Beltech, our longtime industry experience has taught us that there are three key factors involved in belting system performance and energy consumption: 1) the belt itself, 2) the conveyor design, and 3) the drive system that will power it. Optimal results can only be achieved when all three of these elements are correctly aligned. Once the proper combination of belt, design and drive has been found, however, we have proven that it is possible to achieve and maintain real long-term savings of energy consumption.

Long-Term Energy Savings Reducing overall energy consumption, while still functioning at the same high standards, is an excellent way to boost both profitability and environmental responsibility, but it is vital that this energy efficiency is reliably long-term and that it does not impinge upon overall system efficiency. A temporary drop in energy costs that is cancelled out by a drop in performance standards is not a wise investment.




It Begins With Belts


Field Proven Many of our customers already know this – our engineers and salespeople have been brought in at airports around the world to help optimise a wide range of baggage-handling systems, starting with belt selection and continuing through design consultation and advice on motor drive requirements. The results have been overwhelmingly positive – a system that has been correctly harmonized is always more than the sum of its parts – and the trend towards integration is growing.

Minimising Energy Use How can an integrated approach result in energy-use reduction? In baggage-handling systems, energy is consumed in order to generate motion; an optimal system will only generate as much power as is absolutely necessary. Achieving the best possible energy savings is the result of minimizing friction, cutting resistance to forward movement and eliminating, to the greatest possible extent, any unnecessary drive motor operation.

One important area where airports can look to maximise efficiency is in baggage-handling. Any gains achieved here will have major positive effects on overall airport operations CRITICAL TO THE ENERGY EQUATION MIX


Some energy economy will come directly from belt selection: a low-friction fabric underside, like that on Ammeraal Beltech’s proven belt solution, can help reduce power demand by reducing surface resistance. Other belt features are also important. A lighter belt weight and greater flexibility, for instance, means less force needs to be generated to move the belt through straight runs and curves. Material that doesn’t lose shape over distance will allow for longer conveyor lines with fewer drive units. Establishing and maintaining correct belt tension, too, will boost energy efficiency and performance.

Leaner Design Further energy reductions can be achieved by simplifying conveyor designs; using a lighter belt will allow for the use of lighter pulleys, drums and rollers, while a redesign that cuts back on extraneous moving parts will significantly lower friction levels. Refining the combination of belts and belt support will reduce friction even further.

Proper Power The drive systems themselves can be optimised; they are often more powerful than necessary, particularly once the right belt is in place. Changing to the proper size and type of motor can bring immediate energy savings, while installing a motion-control device will eliminate unnecessary and wasteful drive activity.


Promises or Results?

The Right Choice

The most important thing to remember is to make sure that all of these adjustments are done together, in a coordinated and integrated fashion. All too frequently, a piecemeal approach is adopted instead. Promises of quick results based on adjusting just one of the three factors, often the belt, are attractive but often unrealistic. What’s more, energy-saving concepts that do not take a whole-system view will probably have to sacrifice in other areas to reach equivalent reduction rates. A particular coating, for instance, may give a belt an impressive temporary advantage in reducing friction, but for how long? And what if that same coating begins to cause performance issues as it accumulates dust and grime?

From the passenger’s perspective, a great airport is an efficient airport, operating smoothly and on schedule, and that is what the baggage-handling system, as well as all the other aspects of the airport, should provide. Of course, no airport system will ever be perfect, but every investment that is made in reducing negative incidents is money well spent. If it is possible to invest in a coordinated approach that delivers outstanding performance levels and reduces energy consumption at the same time, then it is clear what the choice should be. Energy efficiency, achieved in the correct way, can save money, help the planet and raise customer satisfaction. Now that’s a bright future.

Customer Satisfaction


No gain in energy economy is worth a loss in system performance. Performance is paramount. To maintain the loyalty and trust of their passengers, airports must continually ensure that the travel experience they offer is as reliable and hassle-free as possible. Every piece of luggage that misses a flight is a lost opportunity for customer satisfaction, as is each delay caused by problems with baggage loading and unloading. Damage to luggage can also detract from the overall travel experience. High-performance belts featuring innovative materials and installed on correctly designed systems with the right motor drive technology can, at the same time that they are saving energy, deliver faster and gentler transfers, cut down on harm to baggage, reduce conveyor pile-ups and shrink lost luggage rates.

Kay Bärenfänger Industry Segment Manager – Airports Ammeraal Beltech P.O. Box 38 1700 AA, Heerhugowaard The Netherlands T: +31 (0)72 575 12 12 F: +31 (0)72 571 64 55 E: info@ammeraalbeltech.com W: www.ammeraalbeltech.com



The Case for New Technologies Tom Cropper, Editor Commercial, regulatory and passenger satisfaction issues are driving airport planners to install systems which are cheaper, greener and more efficient.

To cope with the expected surge in demand, airports can do one of two things. They can expand or become more efficient


VERY PART of an airport is a component working within an overall structure. Baggage belts are no different. Development of technology depends on the requirements of airport operators, and the budgetary constraints they are under. This will inform their ability to purchase and install new systems, as well as placing pressure on them to do so. Before we look at the development of new technologies in this area, therefore, we first need to look at the external factors which will have an influence on the future movement of the market.

The Economic Climate In May this year, Gatwick Airport, reported its best ever April. Passenger numbers had increased for the 26th month in a row with 3.2 million passengers passing through.1 The news reflects wider trends. A 2014 report into global air traffic in 2013 pointed to a 4% annual growth in passenger numbers around the world, although overall aircraft movements remained relatively static. The fastest growth is coming from the Asia/Pacific areas and the Middle East with approximately 7% and 9% growth respectively. Future forecasts point to sustained growth figures of roughly 4% per annum for the next 20 years. IATA’s most recent predictions suggest passenger numbers could reach more than 7.3bn by 2020, with the Chinese usurping Americans as the most frequent flyers. Growth, therefore, has indeed been rapid, but it remains vulnerable to geopolitical and economic uncertainties. The economic recovery is fragile. In March the OECD projected a global economic growth of 4%. However, it has now slashed that by nearly 25% to 3.1%. The economy has been hit by slowing growth in the two biggest economies - the US and China, which are, in turn, having ripple effects across the world. Growth in the US has been downgraded to around 2%, thanks to 6 | WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

a strong dollar, although most experts expect it to pick up relatively soon. The implications for global growth prospects are hard to quantify. China’s slowing growth is a particular cause for concern, as it is from here that much of the increase in traffic is expected to come. However, all the signs are that passenger numbers have remained relatively robust even in the face of economic uncertainty. However, what represents good news from a commercial perspective, implies substantial challenges for the operators of airports world-wide. To cope with the expected surge in demand, airports can do one of two things. They can expand or become more efficient. The former is highly expensive and takes many years; the latter is difficult. Achieving efficiency gains will rely on incremental improvements throughout the process. Anything that can shave crucial minutes and seconds off the average processing time of each passenger, from check-in to take off, can free up more space for flights and increase airport capacity. A civil aviation report found significant variation in how effective London’s main airports use their facilities. Heathrow and Gatwick operated at 94% and 90% of capacity respectively, while Stansted was closer to 50%.2 All three, though, had scope for productivity gains. These can be achieved by more efficient processes, increased automation and better technology.

Environmental Legislation In the USA the government is introducing new, stricter, EPA guidelines with a view to reducing the carbon emissions of major airlines. The measure is just one of a number of regulatory changes heightening the pressure on the aviation industry to reduce its carbon footprint. As air travel increases, the impact on the environment becomes an increasingly hot topic. Must of this revolves around noise pollution from aircraft or emissions, but every process in which airports are


involved carries with it a carbon impact. Suppliers and manufacturers across all operations are therefore investing in ways to improve the green credentials of their products. Baggage handling systems have an enormous role to play. They consume huge amounts of power as they run continuously 24/7. Belts made from PVC are highly toxic and harmful to the environment. Minimising power consumption and waste is a major priority. Much of this waste comes from the friction between the belt and the slider. Developing new products manufactured from recyclable materials that are lighter and involve less friction, is a key way in which energy waste can be minimised.

Passenger Satisfaction The customer is always King – it’s one of those sayings which has guided business leaders in many different disciplines over the years.

However, in the aviation industry this has not always applied. A perception that passengers lack choice means cost cutting has often been prioritised over customer experience. However, increasingly they have that choice and show a willingness to prefer those airports which offer a superior and less stressful experience. As a result, 2015 is already proving to be a busy year for innovations which make life easier for passengers. Tiger Air Australia, for example, has introduced iPads for its agents to reduce queues. Helsinki Airport, meanwhile, has introduced sleeping pods for tired passengers and has redesigned the interior of its terminal to provide a more aesthetic and pleasant space in which to be. Delays waiting for baggage and handling errors are among the main factors that impact on passenger satisfaction. Considerable investment is being deployed to develop new practices and technologies which reduce waiting times, improve efficiency and minimise mistakes. The next generation of conveyor belts has a key role to play. By being lighter, stronger and more flexible they can facilitate faster processing times, minimise downtime and improve the efficiency of the entire system. Ideally, their ability to reduce friction and energy loss will also enable them to reduce costs and consumption. The aviation industry is at a crucial point. The boom in passenger numbers shows no sign of slowing down. These passengers are becoming more demanding, have greater choice and are more fickle than used to be the case. Environmental legislation means that, as well as improving bottom-line efficiencies, airport operators also have to mind their impact on the world around them. Achieving these multiple gains on multiple fronts means attention will have to be paid to every component. Conveyor belts may often be overlooked, but their integral role in airport operations mean they can have a real impact on the wider success of the entire operation. WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 7


Is it Time to Upgrade Your Baggage Handling System? Jo Roth, Staff Writer Operators must factor-in multiple considerations when replacing baggage conveyor belts.

Systems need to be smoother, more efficient and less liable to malfunction. Designing stronger and more reliable belts extends service life and reduces the risk of failure


HE BAGGAGE belt is a relatively small component in the overall operation of an airport. However, it can play an important role in delivering efficiency savings. When selecting new materials or designs to incorporate within an airport, operators will be balancing numerous conflicting considerations. In this article we will examine some of the key factors which should shape that decision.

Cost savings As with any system, cost is a massive consideration. Baggage belts consume vast quantities of electricity, and in larger international airports will be running 24/7. The need to ensure seamless running means many receive more power than they need, and are designed over and above spec. All this leads to unnecessary expense during construction, installation and daily operation. Much of this expense comes through the friction coefficient between the baggage belt and the slider bed. This increases the amount of power required to drive the belt and also leads to wear and tear on the belt itself. As the belt continues to wear, the friction increases and so does power consumption. Older systems will be consuming significantly more power than when they were first introduced. Therefore, the challenge for manufacturers it to produce a new generation of technologies that allows belts to run more smoothly and with less friction. Coatings on belts, pulleys and other components provide lubrication. New advanced materials can be lighter, stronger and more flexible enabling more efficient traverse of the belt along the conveyor. This, in turn, extends the life expectancy of the material, and reduces redundancy and maintenance costs. In addition, this smarter power operation can reduce unnecessary running. The loads on baggage belts varies considerably. All must be


able to produce enough power to cope with peak period traffic, but unless they can reduce power output for quieter times, they will waste energy. Smarter control systems are capable of sensing load requirements and adjusting power output to suit. It means there is never too much or too little power being pushed into the system. There are significant savings to be had. Reports have suggested airports have been able to slash baggage system power by up to 50%. However, each new system comes at a cost. Operators will make a decision based very much on a bottom-line perspective. Are the cost savings these systems offer worth the increased expense bringing them in? Equally, while any new system will come with an expectation surrounding the level of cost saving, this is not always reliable. Predictions are exactly that, and the real costbenefits of a system will not be truly apparent until the new system is finally up and running. The latest belts need to be more flexible. Baggage belts can be located in every area of an airport from the check-in desks to security, baggage reclaim and in the baggage handling system itself. Belts are being asked to have capacity for elevation, to curve around corners and to function in many different ways. Introducing new products which can achieve all this in a modular, single design reduces the need for multiple conveyor belts and, as such, brings costs further under control.

Environment A natural by-product of a more cost-efficient system should be an improvement from the environmental side. Airports are coming under increasing pressure to improve their credentials by reducing wastage, their carbon footprint and their effect on the area around them. This applies to almost every feature of the airport. For baggage belts, the issue focuses on power consumption, noise levels and manufacture.


Systems need to be smoother, more efficient and less liable to malfunction. Designing stronger and more reliable belts extends service life and reduces the risk of failure. Reducing complexity in the system also saves friction and energy consumption. Designing a system with fewer moving parts decreases resistance and the chances of something going wrong.

Health and Safety

New materials are being constructed which are lighter and more efficient, reducing friction and energy wastage. However, another key consideration is the environmental impact of their manufacture. Old fashioned PVC materials have an extremely poor track record. Replacement materials that provide similar or superior performance can deliver real benefits. Regulations regarding noise levels of baggage belts – both for passengers and workers – mean the drive is on to produce quieter running systems. These are intended to meet and exceed requirements, but the real benefits come not in compliance, but in the passenger experience. Reduced noise levels make for a more comfortable environment and a more pleasant overall experience.

Reliability Every system needs to be reliable. Any problem or delay can cause serious issues for the airport. In 2014 an IT fault in the baggage handling system led in Heathrow to an enormous buildup of luggage in the departure lounge. Despite attempts to move the luggage by hand, many passengers were forced to depart without it, which meant considerable effort had to be invested in repatriating passengers with their bags.3 Aside from the practical challenges of coping with such as backlog, the airport also had to deal with the reputational fall-out as passengers took to public forums to vent their anger.

A consideration which is often overlooked is the health and safety of baggage crew. A report for the Health and Safety Commission found that handlers are required to lift approximately 10 tonnes of weight during a single shift. This in turn has a significant effect on their muscular-skeletal wellbeing. Risks of accidents increase, which in turn lays airports open to employee liability compensation claims. The same report found that increased use of belt loaders was less hazardous to moving bags by hand than manual use. An increasingly complex array of conveyor belt systems within the baggage handling system itself can reduce the amount of handling required and increase the speed and efficiency of the overall system. Innovative belting and conveyor designs allow for cross-over and belt merging which simplify the system and speed the bags on their way to the destination. In this article, we have examined some of the key factors that will go through any operator’s mind before deciding on a single system. Ultimately, the decision will rest on the age old cost versus reward calculation. Any new innovation will bring with it associated costs from purchase to installation and the possibility of teething errors during the early weeks and months of use. Each system will come with predicted performance parameters but these will not always be reflected in reality. Operators must consider one further factor in making a decision, therefore: the quality and reputation of the provider. A suppler who has a good track record of success, is able to demonstrate reliable testing procedures and can point to examples where their systems have previously been successful, will be at a significant competitive advantage. Suppliers are working to second guess the requirements of airport operators and to deliver innovations which meet these requirements. The key is communication between all sides and ongoing support. This will be crucial in informing the development of the next generation of solutions.



Saving Energy and Money James Butler, Staff Writer Why small improvements in the design and manufacture of baggage handling belts can dramatically improve energy efficiency for airports.

Energy efficiency is, therefore, an important goal for any airport. It allows reductions in operational costs, while meeting environmental obligations and creating a smoother running and more efficient airport


HESE ARE exciting, but challenging times for the aviation industry. After some years in the doldrums, passenger numbers are on the rise again and recently passed pre-recession levels. The next two decades are forecast to witness a further surge in passenger numbers. At the same time, competition among airports is becoming more intense while pressure is growing to control carbon footprints. Any incremental gains they can make to improve efficiency, reduce waiting times, improve customer satisfaction and bring down costs will play an important role in safeguarding the success and continued profitability of the operation. One area in which they can make a significant contribution is also one area which is currently being overlooked – the make-up of baggage conveyor belts.

A Hidden World Behind the scenes of any airport in the world is an entirely hidden operation; miles of conveyor belts taking bags to their destination. You can see them in operation at the check-in desk and at the security scan where hand luggage is taken quickly through the X-ray scan. It’s there in the baggage carousels and behind the scenes in the baggage handling facilities. The operation is vast. Heathrow Terminal 5 boasts the largest single terminal baggage handling system in the world. Once the passenger checks in the bag, it moves onto a belt-based baggage handling system that consists of a vast network of tracks which transports the bags to the baggage hall where they are transferred by staff onto the relevant airline. In addition to this, time critical bags can be delivered through a fast-track underground system which bypasses the conventional process. The logistical undertaking of such an operation is gargantuan, but so too is the energy consumption. Existing designs for baggage handling – the belt, the track and the power supply offer sub-optimal performance in terms of energy efficiency.


Many existing systems have been overdesigned with redundancy capacity in the system. A natural desire to ensure continuous smooth operation means they often use more power than needed. More effort needs to be invested into making certain these systems optimise power use – not too much and not too little. These systems can also be unnecessarily complicated, requiring multiple components, which increase friction and, as a result, power consumption. Equally, belts can be too heavy and are often poorly fitted together with the track. Conventional materials such as PVC also have a poor environmental record. They are potentially toxic, harmful to the environment and impossible to recycle. They consume high amounts of energy and resources during the manufacturing process, which translates itself to a higher overall carbon footprint, together with increased expenses. There are several solutions to these problems. Some require the introduction of new construction materials and designs while others make use of advanced technology to introduce multiple gains that deliver significant savings and operational improvements.

Reducing Power Output East Midlands Airport embarked on an ambitious aim to be carbon neutral by 2012. In achieving this, they introduced small changes throughout the airport which resulted in a sizable reduction in their carbon footprint overall. One of their measures was to fit new software to the baggage handling system so that the belt stopped when not required. The measure, they say, reduced energy consumption per bag by 66%.4 Intelligent use of the power supply goes a long way to reducing the amount of energy consumed by the belts during their working day. However, there is potential for further improvements by examining the design of the belts themselves. Belts which fit poorly with the frame and overly complicated structures contribute to increased levels of friction which, in turn, increase the power output. To address this situation, a new generation


of technologies is on the way to make the belt material more lightweight and flexible. A simpler design requires fewer moving components which can also contribute to reduced energy costs during the manufacturing process as well as lighter, more efficient design, which further reduces wear and friction. Anything that can minimise unnecessary procedures and reduce the resistance to forward motion can greatly enhance the performance of the system. This heralds a more integrated approach to the design of the system. Previously, belts and the rest of the conveyor system have been designed and constructed separately, creating inefficiencies within the system. The drive now is towards superior integration capacity. The latest generation of belts is being made with flexible modular designs which can be adjusted and fitted to cope with multiple conveyor systems. Partnerships are also crucial. Belting manufacturers can work together with suppliers of complete baggage handling systems to produce units which are far more harmoniously designed. Constant dialogue between the suppliers and the end-users (the airports) means a more effective system, designed with the unique requirements of the airport operators in mind.

Power Transition Another major area to address is the transition of power into the operation of the unit. Here, operators are again looking for simpler designs which minimise wastage. This requires a slight adjustment of mentality at every stage, from the make-up of the power supply, to the way that is transitioned to the conveyor system and the actual construction of the system itself. Here, belts can play an important role. By producing new lighter-weight materials, manufacturers can go a long way to maximising the power transition efficiencies of the overall unit. In power terms, this means they can get much more productive output for their input. Energy efficiency is, therefore, an important goal for any airport. It allows reductions in operational costs, while meeting environmental obligations and creating a smoother running and more efficient airport. Although much work has been done on large scale solutions to these problems, it is in the small areas, such as the construction of baggage handling belts that crucial incremental gains can be achieved. These may be small when taken separately, but they can produce further savings which the operator may not previously have identified.



New Technologies for a New Future Tom Cropper, Editor

How baggage handling belts could play a more important role in the future success of an airport than anyone imagined.

Every airport is a conglomerate of multiple processes and systems. By bringing these together as much as possible information can be shared, efficiency improved and costs reduced


ROUND THE world, airport operators are planning for the future. In every case, the most important aspect of that future is deciding where the market is heading next. The trouble is, the recent track record in terms of predictions has been mixed, leading to complications in identifying which next generation technologies can adequately prepare them for the future. One area which, perhaps, has been overlooked is the make-up of baggage belts. It is, of course, perfectly understandable. While much attention is being focused on high-tech and innovative solutions which can improve performance across the entire airport operation, it’s easy to overlook issues at the component scale. However, the manufacturers of belting technologies are not overlooking these issues. They are developing an entirely new set of products – constructed from new materials – to prepare baggage handling systems for the future.

Future Trends The main area of confusion stems from uncertainty about what traffic levels will be like in the future. IATA’s passenger forecasts predict 7.3billion passengers around the world by 2020, with countries such as China and India contributing to a surge in global business. The trouble is that we’ve been here before. Back in 2000, people were confidently predicting that, by now, we would be seeing millions more passengers than there actually are. Of course, between then and now there were several events than nobody could have foreseen in the shape of the economic recession and the 9/11 attacks. The trouble is, for future planners, that these kinds of unpredictable (or black swan) events happen all the time and, when they do, they throw predictions out of the window. It is possible that IATA’s predictions may well be over-exaggerated and therefore the need for more airport capacity, not so severe. 12 | WWW.AIRPORTTECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

The one thing that operators can do, though, is to be prepared for what may come down the road. Predictions such as IATA’s forecasts should be seen as a ‘what-may-happen’ scenario. It pays to be prepared for everything. The biggest challenge in this respect is the limit of what can be done. Airlines are investing in new aircraft but, at the same time, they are struggling to recruit the new pilots to fill those cockpits. Airports can expand to meet new demand, but this is costly, time-consuming and limited by space. Every airport expansion will be met by opposition from local residents and environmental campaigners. The only solution, therefore, is to look at smaller improvements behind the scenes. Here, developments in belting technologies can be crucial.

Environmentally Friendly Everything an airport has to do, currently, must take into consideration their carbon footprint. Baggage handling systems are major users of energy, which mean there are significant opportunities for savings. A key to doing this is to create new designs and systems which reduce the power consumption and energy conversion efficiency of the entire system. Reducing friction and unnecessary procedures can go a long way to bringing down the overall energy use of a system. For that to happen, solutions need to be more integrated. Every airport is a conglomerate of multiple processes and systems. By bringing these together as much as possible information can be shared, efficiency improved and costs reduced. Through incorporating a more integrated approach to a baggage handling system, operators can go from multiple different belts to one seamless system working in an integrated fashion towards the same end goal. For Ammeraal Beltech, one of the leading names in belting technology, the solution is to


bring together three important factors: Conveyor design and component specification; drive sizing and mechanical efficiency, and conveyor belt design characteristic. Systems should be designed using the right belt, an efficient drive design and a compatible conveyor system. Those which can achieve this level of integration will secure a key competitive advantage.

Manufacture of Belts Environmental concerns also surround the manufacture of belts. Existing products use PVC, which can be extremely toxic and harmful to the environment. The search is on for alternatives which have a more positive environmental profile, while still delivering the required performance enhancements. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is one of many airports which are now incorporating a more environmentally friendly material into its state of the art baggage handling system. The innovative new conveyor system aims to achieve cost and emissions savings at every stage. The belt is 100% PVC-free and is constructed from a recyclable polyester which instantly removes one of the main environmental concerns surrounding conventional systems. The material is 50% lighter than conventional belts, making for reduced cost of production and power consumption when in use. The system consumes 100kg fewer natural resources in each drive, delivering significant savings right the way through the process.

Overall, the company says it has delivered energy savings of approximately 80%.5 Innovations such as these illustrate the main driving force behind suppliers. They are dedicated towards delivering high quality, recyclable materials which offer multiple gains throughout the operation. As well as reducing running costs they are also looking to improve the environmental profile, reduce maintenance requirements and power consumption and deliver incremental performance gains. In delivering this they are having to balance multiple considerations and bring in a wide ranging skillset. This means creating more integrated systems in which the belt works in harmony with other components rather than as a separate entity in its own right. Such integration is facilitated by cooperation between different parties. Suppliers of baggage handling systems will be working closely with manufacturers of belting technologies and the end-user to ensure the new generation of technologies will be fit for purpose. The future is an exciting and unpredictable place for the aviation industry. Barring a repeat of an unexpected event such as 9/11, it can look forward to a sustained period of passenger growth. It means the future will be full of opportunities, but the task of adapting to these requirements will be far from straightforward. It is, then, a time of great opportunities and of great challenges.



References: 1

W Gatwick Traffic Levels Soar Again: http://www.cityam.com/215449/gatwick-traffic-levels-soar-again-report-expansion-looms


CAA report: http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/78/Q6CEPAEfficiency.pdf


Check in chaos at Heathrow’s Terminal 5:



The Business of Manchester Airport Group: http://www.magworld.co.uk/gcsebusinessstudies/environment.html


Savings in Energy and Natural Resources: http://www.airport-technology.com/contractors/baggage/vanderlande/press26.html





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Innovations in Belting Systems for Future Airport & Airline Baggage Handling Operations  

Innovations in Belting Systems for Future Airport and Airline Baggage Handling Operations - Ammeraal Beltech

Innovations in Belting Systems for Future Airport & Airline Baggage Handling Operations  

Innovations in Belting Systems for Future Airport and Airline Baggage Handling Operations - Ammeraal Beltech