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Baggage: a helping hand: Debbie Norton explains how the baggage handlers at the Faroe Island's Vagar Airport have received a 'helping hand' from modern technology.

VAGAR AIRPORT (IATA: FAE) is the only airport in the Faroe Islands, a self-governing territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. It was built by British Royal Engineers during World War Two on a site that was chosen mainly because it was hard to see from the surrounding ocean. The first aeroplane landed there in autumn 1942.

After the war the airfield was left unused until 1963, when the need and popular demand for civil aviation in the Faroe Islands led to it being reopened as a civilian airport with scheduled flights to Bergen, Copenhagen and Glasgow. Faroe Airways began operations in 1964. The runway was extended from 1,250m (4,100ft) to 1,799m (5,902ft) in 2011, enabling the likes of the Airbus A319, A320, B 737-700 and other bigger aircraft to be used for the first time, flying to more distant destinations. The airport is now the main operating base for Faroese national airline Atlantic Airways.

In 2013, following a 43% rise over the past ten years--coming from increased domestic outbound demand and inbound tourism, as well as offshore oil and gas activities

--passenger numbers reached over 236,000, all passing through a terminal that was built in 1978 to serve 100,000. To handle this traffic

--expected to top 250,000 in 2014

--a new terminal was constructed, going into service in June of that year. The airport operator's intention is that the new and improved facilities will lead to less expensive and better air travel for even greater numbers of passengers.

Along with more travellers come more bags and the need for an efficient, modern baggage handling system to deal with them. In autumn 2013 Crisplant--part of the BEUMER Group and a global supplier of automated baggage handling systems--was awarded the contract to design, manufacture and install its baggage handling system (BHS) in the new terminal.


The BHS is based on the Crisplant CrisBelt conveyor and features integrated baggage screening in addition to self-check-in, bag drop, oversize baggage handling and the new Baggage Unloader semiautomatic lifting aid.

Jakup Sverri Kass, CEO at Vagar Airport, commented: "As a modern airport, we constantly look at possibilities to increase productivity and efficiency. Automating the baggage handling was obvious and so was the choice to extend this efficiency from departure, using self-bag drop, and all the way through to handling of arrival baggage."

The Baggage Unloader was developed to assist handlers in transferring bags from a trolley onto a conveying line in the airport. Musculoskeletal disorders have long been recognised as a serious problem among baggage handlers, resulting from the repetitive manual handling of baggage and cargo. The Baggage Unloader is one of a range of products that has helped to reduce the level of injuries suffered by ground handlers by providing automated, semi-automated and even simple manually-operated lifting aids for baggage to all types of airports, from small regional facilities to the largest international hubs.

The integration of the Baggage Unloader to the inbound conveyor line minimises manual lifting of baggage from trolleys, providing an enhanced ergonomic working environment that will protect the operators and baggage from the risks associated with the manual handling of heavy items. The complete Baggage Unloader system can be easily integrated into existing systems to optimise the efficiency of the unloading process in the airport. Designed to operate within a very compact working area, the Baggage Unloader is highly space-efficient.

Mr Kass explained: "Our baggage arrival area is compact; however the design of the Baggage Unloader makes it easy to operate--even in space constrained areas."

Simply by moving the Baggage Unloader into position in front of the trolley and extending the ramp to each stack of bags in turn, the operator bridges the gap between the conveyor and the trolley. The system enables the operator to slide each item of baggage gently from a trolley onto the conveyor, reducing the risk of operator injury and damage to baggage, and ensuring that trolleys are unloaded faster, more efficiently and, as a fully manual handling aid, without consuming any energy.

Vagar's new terminal opened in May 2014 and its baggage handlers were delighted with the system, as Mr Kass noted: "Our handlers needed a bit of time to adjust to the baggage sliding technique, but once in place they were very satisfied with the reduction in effort and manual lifting. As a direct result of this system we expect to see fewer injuries and less absenteeism."

Klaus Schafer, Managing Director of Crisplant explained further: "Crisplant worked very closely with Vagar Airport throughout the baggage handling design stage and the modular design of CrisBelt has enabled us to provide a system that fits extremely well into the new terminal. By choosing to implement the Baggage Unloader and self bag drop, Vagar has shown that its focus is clearly on the future as passenger traffic increases for the Faroe Islands."

Mr Kass concluded: "By enabling Vagar Airport to ensure efficient baggage handling and an advanced ergonomic working environment for our employees, the Crisplant system will help us achieve and maintain a high level of passenger satisfaction and operator safety."



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Publication:Airports International
Geographic Code:4EUFA
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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