DIA Automated Baggage Handling System - Furman University
DIA Automated Baggage Handling System MSNBC on Denver's Automated Bag gage System Background November 1989: Airport construction begins Estimated Date of completion: October 1993 Estimated cost: 2 billion dollars
One of the largest and most technologically advanced airports in the world 2X the size of Manhattan 53 square miles Selection of baggage handling system was initially the responsibility of each airline Background United Airlines contracts with BAE to create an automated baggage handling system for their terminal In 1991 2 years after construction began, airport officials realize that only United has begun the process of incorporating a baggage handling system Officials approach BAE in order to discuss feasibility
of an airport-wide automated baggage handling system Background BAE contracts with airport officials to design and build an airport-wide baggage handling system for 193 million dollars to be completed within 21 months Goals of the system Deliver each bag individually including transfers automatically from check-in or the unloading of the aircraft to the outward bound aircraft or baggage claim Maximum delivery times: Wide body aircraft 30 minutes Narrow body aircraft 20 minutes
Designed to allow transport of baggage anywhere within the airport to or from the main terminal within 10 minutes Must move the baggage at a rate => the rate at which travelers move Deliver over 1000 bags per minute 3 Methods of Moving Bags Tug & Cart Labor intensive Manual Method Telecars
Multiple luggage pieces in one cart Not automatically sorted Typically used in automated systems DCV Destination Coded Vehicles Each cart contains a single piece of luggage Automatically sorted Not typically used or well tested
Little or no human interaction required Selected for the Automated Baggage System at DIA System Components
300 486-class computers distributed in eight control rooms Raima Corp. database running on a Netframe systems fault-tolerant NF250 server High speed fiber-optic Ethernet network 14 million feet of wiring 56 laser arrays 400 frequency readers 10,000 motors 92 PLCs to control motors and track switches 3,100 standard baggage carts (DCVs)
450 over-sized baggage carts (DCVs) 2,700 photocells Over 17 miles of track Over 6 miles of conveyors Functionality of original design Check-in Bar code labels Bags owner Flight number Final destination Intermediate connections and airlines Automated bar code scanner Array of bar-code scanners arranged 360 degrees scan
baggage Typically able to scan 90% of luggage Luggage unable to be scanned is routed to another conveyor to be manually scanned Theoretically after reading the bar-code, the system will know where that bag is at all times Baggage Handling Process Conveyors Hundreds of conveyors with junctions connecting all of them Sort all of the bags from all of the different airlines and send them to DCVs that are headed to the proper terminal and gate
Conveyor can only advance when there is an empty cart onto which the leading bag can be placed Conveyor speed depends on the rate of delivery of empty carts Baggage Handling Process DCVs Metal cart with wheels on the bottom and a plastic tub on top (mounted on a pivot) that tilts into three positions for automatically loading, carrying and unloading baggage Ride on a metal track like a roller coaster Travel up to 24 mph
Slow to 4.5 mph for loading and 8.5 mph for unloading Photo-electric sensors trigger laser scanner when DCV is present and associate the bag with the DCV Located every 150 to 200 feet of track Data from scanners is transmitted to a computer that translates it by using a look up table to match the flight number with the appropriate gate Baggage Handling Process DCVs Tracking computer guides the DCV to its destination by communicating with
the radio transponders mounted on the side of each DCV DCVs move via linear induction motors mounted approximately every 50 feet of track Tracked by computers Control PLCs Handle DCV merges into traffic
Control track switches Monitor each of he systems radio transponders Track gate assignments for potential re-routing Track obstructions or failures Automatically detour around a stalled vehicle or jammed track Baggage Handling Process Two counter-circulating closed-loop tracks with multiple routing connections provide for future expansion and add redundancy to guard against unanticipated problems Baggage Handling Process Decentralized computing allows the baggage
system to operate independently of the airport's information systems department Only dependence within the systems involves coordination with the airlines flight reservation and information systems Performance Tests
Bags fell out of the DCVs causing the system to jam Even with a system jam, bags continued to be unloaded because the photo eye at that location could not detect the pile of bags on the belt and could not signal the system to stop DCVs crashed into one another especially at intersections DCV didnt appear when summoned Baggage incorrectly loaded and misrouted Bags were loaded into DCVs that were already full so some bags fell on the tracks causing the carts to jam because the system lost track of which DCVs were loaded or unloaded during a previous jam and when the system came back on-line, it failed to show the DCVs were loaded Timing between the conveyor belts and the moving DCVs was not properly
synchronized causing bags to fall between the conveyor and the DCVs. Bags became wedged under the DCVs which were bumping into each other near the load point. Result Inadequate performance caused several delays in the airports opening totaling 16 months Automated system was designed with no backup system in place An additional 5 months was required to build a traditional tug and cart system at a cost of 51 million dollars Debts came due prior to the airports opening costing the airport 1.1 million dollars day in interest and opportunity cost
Cost overrun totaled over 253 million dollars Total Airport cost amounted to more than 4 billion dollars What went wrong? Despite its importance, the baggage handling system was an afterthought The airport was 2 years into construction before the baggage system was considered The system would have to be retrofit into the airport as it was designed initially including narrow tunnels and tunnels with sharp turns making it extremely difficult to navigate the DCVs What went wrong?
The time constraint was impossible to overcome The 21 month schedule precluded extensive physical testing or simulation of the full system design More significant problems Reliable Delivery System consists of over a hundred waiting lines that feed into each other Belt will only advance when there is an empty cart Empty carts will only arrive after they have deposited their loads Cascade of queues
Pattern of loads on the system are highly variable Depend on the season, time of day, type of aircraft The number of possible scenarios is enormous More significant problems Misreads Compounded by the fact that not only are the scanners required to read data from the tags attached to the baggage, but the information must also be transmitted by radio to devices on each of the DCVs. This duality compounds the errors. More significant problems
Complexity System of this size providing time sensitive delivery of materials on such a large scale had never been done before 12x as many carts traveling 10x the speed of carts typically used at that time Not just an increase in complexity relative to current systems, but a leap in complexity System must track tens of thousands of bags going to hundreds of destinations all in real time Distributed computer system In addition to regular error checking, software must guard against electrical
disturbances in the communications, have multiple levels of redundancy and be able to recover from errors very rapidly More significant problems Line-Balancing problem All lines of flow should have balanced service Need to have sufficient empty carts to accommodate the bags coming off the conveyor belt In a postmortem simulation, the inability of the system to provide adequate empty carts was the primary cause of its failure. A simulation was also completed prior to the start of the project, but due to a lack of communication, BAE was not notified by airport officials of the results; The results stated, in essence, that the
system would not work as it was initially designed Solutions Short Term Backup system Unfortunately didnt exist in this case Reduce complexity (automate only outgoing bags) Long Term Is it so complex that a reduction in complexity will mean unacceptable performance or costeffectiveness Where is DIAs automated baggage system today?
After 10 years and $600 million, the Denver airport goes back to reliable tugs and carts in 2005 Was the project feasible? Video
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