Baggage Upgrade For Manchester Airport
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Baggage Upgrade For Manchester Airport

Baggage Upgrade For Manchester Airport

:: 04 July, 2008

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Geo. Robson is completing a £6.5 million contract to improve baggage handling and security facilities at Manchester Airport. The project will increase baggage handling capacity in Terminal 2 by some 35%. 

When the new equipment is installed, Manchester will be the only airport in the UK to operate a fully flexible baggage handling and screening system. The turnkey project involves reconfiguration and expansion of the current baggage screening and conveyor system with a more efficient design. Also entailed are the supply and installation of new sorters, additional X-ray equipment and a sophisticated management control system. The design of the new system was a collaborative effort between Geo Robson and Manchester Airport. Robson is responsible for supply and installation including electrical, electronic, mechanical, civil engineering and structural work.

Robson was chosen for its flexible and innovative approach and its ability to meet the performance requirements set by the airport. The contract is scheduled for completion by 31st May 2003, phased to avoid disruption during the peak summer period.

Manchester is one of the world’s busiest airports. Throughput at the UK’s no. 3 gateway is predicted to reach 40 million passengers a year by 2015 – 21 million more than it handles at present.

The 68 check-in desks in Terminal 2 are located on four islands – one with 16 desks, two with 14 and the fourth with 21 desks. The system has been designed to give the airport the flexibility to use any check-in desk for any carrier. This will allow faster and more efficient passenger processing. It will also ensure the airport maintains its reputation as a world leader in security screening.

Once baggage has been checked, weighed and labelled, the all-new, ‘security first’ system routes it via conveyor to one of two carousels for detailed security checks by four level one X-ray machines.

The carousels will spread the load to the X-ray units more evenly than the old linear conveyors they replace, feeding items to check stations as and when they become vacant. The intelligent distribution prevents peak time bottlenecks.

After security checks, the cleared items will be directed to pre-sorting ahead of the main sorting process. Items that fail to clear security will be taken by a separate conveyor for further checks by Invision 5500 CTX level two X-ray units. The system ensures baggage flow is not hindered by any items requiring further attention.

A new tilt tray sorter, that works alongside two existing push sorters, directs baggage to one of the 25 chutes for transporting to waiting aircraft.

As with any complex, fully integrated system, the ability to monitor and manage flow is vital. Robson - and controls partner MacDonald Humfrey - designed and are installing a full management information and control system. The monitoring system uses PC displays to provide real-time status for the whole installation. It also tracks all bags and packages.

The way both parties managed the contract planning and negotiations, as well as the main contract itself, provides valuable lessons in how to establish a productive business partnership. In the first of three pre-contract stages, Robson was invited to carry out a fixed fee global design study to produce proposals capable of meeting performance specifications laid down by the airport.

On approval, the Robson team progressed to the next fixed fee stage – the development of a more detailed, fully-costed and scheduled proposal. This was followed by a detailed implementation plan.

Phase 1 of the installation - which involved around half the project - was completed on programme on 31st May 2002, ready for the summer season. The second phase - comprising non-disruptive works - was carried out successfully during the summer. The final phase – which has been worked on over the winter – is scheduled for completion in May 2003.

During negotiations Robson also agreed to an innovative cost structure based on monthly budgets. Each part of the project has a fixed, maximum cost that Robson cannot exceed. At each month end Robson submits a list of costs that includes hours worked and materials purchased. Any under spend is shared by the partners. The novel process encourages effective planning and co-operation.

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