The biggest step forward in baggage handling in more than 15 years

A ground-breaking Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Video Coding (VCS) Solution developed by a partnership of Prime Vision and SICK has been installed at a major international airport to solve the challenges of baggage identification rejects. Prime Vision hit such a problem in the logistics industry many years ago and developed systems to increase read rates. Now it has applied this knowledge to baggage handling, saving the airport significant costs while boosting customer satisfaction.

While significant improvements have been made to laser-based barcode scanning technology, the very best systems’ read-rates have maxed-out at 90- 94%. As a result, 6–10% of baggage is routed to the reject chute or manual handling station. This requires extensive staff resources to man fixed manual handling stations.

The process is inefficient, costly and time-consuming and there is a greater chance that baggage is missorted and the customer doesn’t get their baggage in time or even at all! Despite the fact that only a low percentage of airborne baggage is mishandled, the penalties for missorted baggage still cost the airlines dearly. Imagine how much money can be saved with higher read rates.

The Prime Vision/SICK solution reduces the 6-10% rejects. It enables the highest reading performance even when bar codes are damaged and dirty, by integrating a 360 degree tag identification system, that allows images to be used for OCR and remote VCS.

By integrating Prime Vision/SICK technology to the baggage handling system (BHS), bags are identified while they remain on the baggage handling sorter. Further manual handling is all but eliminated as identification results are reliably improved. The result? Time and cost savings as baggage flow is uninterrupted and valuable manpower is freed from fixed manual encoding stations.

How it Works
Primary identification is done via the SICK Airport Luggage Identification System (ALIS) using camera technology. The bag source message (BSM), which includes the date, flight number, destination, registration number and a unique barcode (IATA Licence plate), is read by the ALIS system. Baggage routing is determined by the bagging handling system (BHS) and in the case of a no-read or no-BSM, the baggage tag is processed by OCR and/or remote video coding. Only obscured or unreadable baggage tags are routed to manual handling.

The benefits are clear, reduced volumes for manual handling (1-2%) resulting in reduced operational costs and increased flexibility as valuable operations’ staff are freed from manning fixed manual encoding stations but can launch a web-based VCS from a remote location. Web-based VCS delivers scalability and flexibility as VCS can be deployed to match volume demands and the system provides improved process robustness as other label information may be used for items with missing bag source message (BSM) information.

Significantly reduced baggage mishandling incidents are assured thanks to improved quality and accuracy of VCS and OCR. And not only do users enjoy efficiency gains but also greater customer satisfaction resulting from shorter process times and shorter mean connection times.