Swanson Rink Publishes Individual Container Systems White Paper


There are a number of advanced baggage handling system technologies that have been implemented in Europe and other parts of the world, but are yet to be embraced in the United States. One of the more intriguing technologies is the Individual Carrier System or ICS. European airports that have successfully used ICS include Munich, Heathrow, Barcelona, Oslo and Helsinki. We have heard arguments that ICS is too expensive and the benefits don’t justify the added cost; we decided to find out for ourselves.

Swanson Rink was engaged to determine if there is a business case for ICS in the United States. We started with a BHS project that is to be built in the US in the near future; a project of moderate size and complexity, and with typical domestic loads similar to those at many major US airports. Our study made a comprehensive comparison of ICS technology and traditional conveyor technology, applied to a typical airport baggage handling system.

An ICS baggage handling system differs from a conventional conveyor system because it uses individual tubs or carts to transfer baggage, instead of conveyor belts. Though there are hurdles for utilization in the United States, a strong argument can be made for ICS and we believe that it deserves a closer look.

We found that the ICS delivers improved baggage delivery both to and from aircraft. In addition to reduced travel time and reliable delivery energy usage, there are fewer tug train incursions on the apron, there is a smaller carbon footprint, and operating costs overall are reduced significantly.

In the ICS model, the travel time from aircraft to baggage claim, as well as check-in to makeup, is more direct and has the potential of minimizing ramp traffic. On inbound, tug trains travel a much shorter distance from aircraft to load pier which can be located near the aircraft rather than back at the terminal. Bags are loaded on containers and transported via ICS back to baggage claim, thus avoiding the drive back to the main terminal in the traditional approach. Tug traffic in the vicinity of active gates is minimized and the risk of fallen and damaged bags is reduced.

The advantages of ICS can be further increased if a common-use business model is employed for baggage handling. ICS requires fewer tugs and carts, thus the number of bag handlers can also be reduced. Costs can be substantially less where resources and related expenses can be shared.

Another benefit of ICS is the convenient application of Early Bag Storage. Since ICS uses RFID labeling on all tubs, vertical storage is practical, and Just-In-Time Delivery to outbound sort carousels can be accomplished. Makeup is easier and less risky since only bags for the particular flight need to be delivered to the makeup carousel or pier; there are fewer lost bags by virtue of limited manual intervention for sortation. Early bag storage can also improve efficiency of baggage screening operations when applied as a load leveling facility upstream of the baggage screening matrix.

For the full article: download the PDF version

Date: 02/18/2015

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