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10/8/2007
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Baggage Bots, RFID Will Track And Transfer Airline Luggage

IBM will provide a baggage management system to control and track each bag using robot handling software and RFID.

An airport in the Netherlands hopes that baggage-handling robots and RFID will cut down on the amount of baggage lost as it is being transferred between connecting flights.

IBM and Vanderlande Industries have signed a contract with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to increase baggage capacity for a new baggage hall.

IBM will provide a baggage management system to control and track each bag using robot handling software. IBM also will provide consulting services, hardware, software, and application development for the project, which will rely on RFID to track checked baggage.

"Airports and airlines see improved baggage handling as a major step towards increasing passenger satisfaction," Charles Vincent, director of IBM Travel and Transport Europe, said in a statement. "The efficiencies of the new system will cut down operating costs and improve transfer connection times for passengers at Schiphol."

IBM is involved in several other projects with Schiphol Airport and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines through its Baggage Center of Excellence in Amsterdam, which manages baggage globally. Vanderlande Industries and IBM work together at several airports around the world. KLM/Air France will be the biggest user of the new baggage hall, "Nieuw Zuid," which is scheduled to open in 2011.

Six robots will manage the baggage, handling 60% of loading, for more efficient connections. Peter Gerretse, president and CEO of Vanderlande Industries, said the robots would also "contribute to the ergonomic handling of bags, improving the working conditions of the people."

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol wants to become capable of transferring 70 million pieces of baggage a year by 2018.

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