Vanderlande and Avinor have formed an innovation partnership (IP) to explore ways of fully automating the last mile of the baggage handling process.

Dutch firm Vanderlande will supply two solutions – BAGLOAD for integrated robot loading and FLEET Batch for the transportation of ULDs – for trials at Norway’s Oslo Gardermoen Airport. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to enhance the efficiency and reliability of baggage handling, benefiting the airport industry as a whole, the companies said.

Avinor received funding of around NOK 15m (€1.3m) after Innovation Norway (a state-owned company and national development bank) selected its project proposal. The airport operator chose Vanderlande as its technology partner through a tender process, and the newly formed IP runs from August 2023 to November 2024. The two organisations have a long history of partnership, dating back to 1994 when Vanderlande supplied Oslo Gardermoen Airport’s first baggage handling system (BHS).

The goal of the IP is to automate a part of the baggage handling process that has remained unaltered for more than 50 years. The unloading of luggage from the BHS on to containers bound for the aircraft is currently a labour intensive and costly operation. According to Avinor, about 50% of costs related to baggage handling are incurred through these last-mile activities.


The innovation partnership

The first phase of the IP will take place at Vanderlande’s testing facilities in Veghel, The Netherlands, and involves further developing and prototyping the technologies according to the project brief. From September 2024, the two products will be subject to a three-month trial at Oslo Airport, where Avinor has built a dedicated project test centre. This facility is connected to the BHS, so assessments will be undertaken in a live environment.

“The main objective of our IP is to increase the efficiency of the baggage handling process while removing repetitive heavy lifting duties currently undertaken by baggage handlers,” said Ole Petter Storstad, director of technology and infrastructure at Avinor. “We’re excited to work with Vanderlande, whose current level of technology provides us with confidence that a viable solution can be developed and rolled out across the entire industry.”

Vanderlande board member and executive vice-president airport and parcel solutions Andrew Manship added: “The collaboration will supercharge our development work, and a successful outcome will benefit the airlines, handling companies and all individuals currently engaged in difficult manual work.”

Image: Vanderlande