London Stansted completes major baggage handling upgrade

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London Stansted Airport has completed a revamp of its baggage handling system, which it says is the largest upgrade to its baggage network since the current terminal opened in 1991. The work involved replacing the ageing set-up of conveyor belts and chutes with 2.4km of track and 180 automated carts.

Designed by Beumer Group, the new low-energy, fully automated system is said to be both faster and more efficient than the one it replaces and the longest system of its type in the world – at speeds of up to 5m/sec, bags will take around six minutes to travel from check-in to being ready to load onto an aircraft.

Steve Radford, hold baggage system program lead, who oversaw the project, commented, “We’re delighted to reach this very important milestone in the hold baggage system project. While passengers simply hand their baggage in at check-in for their journey, below the terminal is a highly automated and complex system that seamlessly and safely ensures the right bag reaches the right flight. The Beumer autover system uses the latest digital technology, which will future-proof London Stansted’s baggage operation for years to come, improving performance for both our passengers and airlines.”

The upgrade work was initially carried out in stages to minimize disruption. However, the drop in traffic because of the coronavirus pandemic meant the airport could speed up the project and complete it ahead of schedule.

“We would have much rather have welcomed the numbers of passengers we were expecting, but under the circumstances, the team took advantage of the situation and did a brilliant job. Despite the challenges that we’ve all faced in the last 12 months, it’s been encouraging to work on a project that’s going to have such a positive impact on passengers when they return to the airport,” added Radford.

The work also included linking the new system with a new check-in area that opened in 2019 and the installation of ‘Standard 3’ baggage scanners which are required under new EU regulations.

Klaus Schäfer, CEO, Beumer Group UK, remarked, “We commend Stansted Airport in following their strategy and identifying the perfect window of opportunity for remodeling their baggage handling system setup. This now means the airport has a future-proof system and a great deal of built-in flexibility for years to come. The integration of an end-to-end baggage handling system not only allows Stansted Airport to grow and service their airline customers and passengers, but it also places Stansted in the league of modern airports known for operating with a very efficient baggage handling design to increase baggage traceability and security at every stage of the handling process.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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