Hamburg Airport in Germany handles nine million pieces of baggage every year. For the baggage handling staff, the reliability of the conveyor system and the prevention of faults are the highest priorities. The breakdown of even a single component of the system would result in a backlog and unacceptable delays.

NORD helical worm gearmotors power the baggage transport conveyor at the Hamburg international airport.
The baggage handling system employs several kilometers of conveyor belts for combining, feeding, holding, and sorting baggage. The system has to manage horizontal, upward, and downward transportation. To match the flexible conveyor system, the drive concept was designed for minimum wiring and installation effort. To accelerate and decelerate the conveyors, plug-in integrated NORD trio SK 300E drive units from NORD Drivesystems can be quickly and simply replaced if maintenance is required. The frequency inverter is mounted directly on the motor terminal box, and a Profibus DP connection allows for all control and diagnostic functions to be carried out remotely. In addition, the inverter is equipped with controls for the manual adaptation of direction and speed.

A Modern, Efficient System

The large international airport in Hamburg has undergone a systematic modernization and capacity expansion in the past few years. Terminal 1 is entirely new, and the conveyor technology in Terminal 2 has been completely restructured and brought up to the state of the art. A new Airport Plaza closes the gap between the two terminals. Due to the increased number of passengers, the efficient organization of baggage transport and storage is essential.

Hence, the modernization project included the construction of an interlinked baggage handling system that serves all three terminals, and can handle and sort up to 8,700 pieces of baggage per hour. In view of the large volume to be conveyed, breakdowns must be absolutely avoided. At the same time, the transport technology must be reliable, as it is connected to a computerized logistics system that can precisely locate each piece of baggage at any time. Therefore, intelligent, high-performance, and highly flexible drive technology was needed.

Aviation security requires that passengers and baggage be checked before travel. At international airports, the process is to transfer baggage checking behind the scenes in order to ensure rapid processing; this is automated as much as possible. The interlinked Hamburg system integrates all control levels. The extremely reliable, low-wear transport technology provides high availability, meaning that standstill times and operating costs have been minimized. A high-performance track-and-trace system keeps track of all pieces of baggage. Optimized space utilization ensures that early baggage, i.e. baggage that is checked the previous evening, can be quickly fed for further processing without additional labor. Tracking, tracing, and automatic sorting enable economic and punctual processing, even with large quantities of baggage.

Automatic Baggage Transport

At check-in, the baggage is loaded onto a conveyor belt, where it is weighed and labeled. Behind a total of 108 check-in desks, a common conveyor belt collects it for sorting. Unless baggage screening issues a warning, passengers only see their baggage again at their destination airport. Out of sight of the passengers, identification and a multi-stage, largely automatic security check takes place. First, the baggage labels from check-in are scanned and archived for further tracking. Then, all baggage is subjected to a fully automatic security check; only baggage that is categorized as completely safe may be loaded onto the aircraft.

Motor-mounted frequency inverters from the SK300E and SK700E series help with exact placement and positioning of baggage as it moves through the system.
Baggage that passes through the control levels without problems is separated, via holding sections and acceleration belts, onto sorter carousels with tipping trays. To precisely position each item of baggage onto a free tipping tray, the acceleration belts are linked with the system intelligence. At this point, the system, which is equipped with more than 1,000 sensors, knows precisely which tipping tray holds which item of baggage. At the required time, the respective tipping tray is emptied onto a loading table for the correct flight; the ground staff then packs the baggage into containers or transport trolleys for aircraft loading.

For the more sophisticated tasks, baggage rotators and aligners use frequency inverters from the SK 700E line. These control cabinet devices were designed for the medium- to high-power range of 1.5 kW to 160 kW. Equipped with POSICON positioning control, they autonomously implement relative and absolute positioning, providing a cost-effective positioning solution.

Modernization with a New Drive

The recent expansion and modernization have equipped Hamburg Airport for the increasing numbers of passengers and quantities of baggage. At present, the airport handles about 12 million passengers per year. The project specified that a single interlinked baggage conveyor system be implemented for the first time. In 2005, the conveyor system in Terminal 2 was modernized while fully operational. Three years later, the parallel conveyor architectures were linked to form a single system. All baggage security checks are now carried out in the basement. Thus, an innovative, flexible, and efficient intermediate storage system was implemented. At the same time, handling of transfer baggage between airlines was considerably simplified.

This article was contributed by NORD Drivesystems, Bargteheide, Germany. For more information, Click Here 

Motion Control & Automation Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2015 issue of Motion Control & Automation Technology Magazine.

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