A World-Unique, Automated System for the Processing of Air France Late Bags in Paris CDG airport

In order to improve the quality of services, AIR FRANCE invested in a world-unique, state-of-the-art centre for the automated processing of late bags ;

Because of certain problems of the airline industry, some bags may be mishandled, mainly during transfers, and cannot be redirected on a same-day flight. To be able to process these particular cases as quickly as possible, AIR FRANCE wished to optimize the whole process to significantly improve their performance and the quality of information provided to passengers, while limiting the operating costs.

Le Kube : A partnership of 3 experts to provide a turnkey installation to AIR France

In this project Alstef was in charge of the design, supply and maintenance of the automated process in partnership with 2 companies : Group 3S, a supplier of the logistics services at Paris CDG, and responsible for the operation of the system, and SNC LAVALIN, engineering and building company in charge of the HEQ building design and construction.

System operation :

The baggage handling system has been designed taking in consideration 2 major steps : the fast pre-sorting of late bags that can be redirected immediately onto another flight ; and the storage of remaining late bags in an automated storage area.

Thus all late bags on the platform are collected and conveyed in the fast pre-sorting area that can process up to 1,600 bags per hour. The bags are immediately identified in this same area. The computer system designed by Alstef communicates with the Air France IT system to find the most appropriate flight. Approximately 13% of late bags can be immediately re-routed towards their final destination.

Late bags for which no immediate flight is available are transported in dollies towards the automated delivery centre located approximately 3 km from the pre-sorting area. The automated delivery centre can receive during peak periods up to 1,400 “standard” or “oversize” bags.

This centre includes a computer controlled manual storage area used as buffer, which can store up to 200 dollies. It can absorb the occasional peak flows.

A second area is dedicated to automated storage. It has a capacity of approximately 1050 “standard” bags per hour.

The automated storage area includes :

  • A bag handling tote system with 6 stations to load bags in totes at input , and to identify bags with bar-code readers,
  • 3 manual identification stations for bags without a tag or with an unreadable tag
  • Each tote is tracked with an RFID tag
  • A storage system for totes (empty or full) with more than 5000 locations is served by 7 mini, fast running (4m/s) stacker-cranes.

Each stacker-crane is fitted with a specific picking device to be able to pick up to 2 totes simultaneously, and the storage is in double depth to allow access to any bag, even if a stacker-crane is stopped in the adjacent aisle.

  • 13 continuous or dis-continuous lifts are used to link the tote handling loops between them at the various levels of the system.
  • Several stations are located along the circuit :
  • 5 screening stations for bags without a tag,
  • 5 re-tagging stations for bags to be re-routed,
  • 6 programmable sorting positions allow the loading in dollies of bags re-routed to new flights : each position is equipped with an automatic tote tilting system to transfer the bag to the destination chute,

For bags which final destination is Paris, 1 sorting position is allocated to customs. Then bags go through X-Ray control and are dispatched either to an AF agency integrated to the delivery centre, for final delivery to the passengers, or to a loading platform for onward transport (taxis or forwarders).

Since the center started to operate in 2012 and for the next 6 years, ALSTEF has been responsible for the operation and maintenance of all the mechanical equipment and the IT management.

  • Autostore
  • Sortation systems
    Sortation systems
    Sortation systems
  • Robotized order preparation
    Robotized order preparation
    Robotized order preparation
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