Research Projects

Development of Baggage Handling System decision making framework based on total cost of ownership In Reserve

Baggage Handling Systems (BHS) are critical pieces of infrastructure at every airport. They are large, complex, and costly to operate, and their lack of performance can have massive impacts on airport, airlines, and passengers. The research aims to provide airport stakeholders with a set of tools to make the best, transparent decisions regarding their BHS from a total cost of ownership perspective. Expanding on current evaluation metrics defined in the TSA's Planning Guidelines and Design Standards (PGDS), a total cost of ownership evaluation method including capital costs, operational and maintenance costs, performance costs, and indirect costs such as missed bags and gate turn time.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

There are a wide range of approaches to baggage handling decisions across the US. Systems are designed and built with the main focus of driving the capital cost of the system down, without much consideration to the impacts on future costs, such as operations and maintenance or performance. This research will provide a framework for those stakeholders on how to include those future and indirect costs as part of their planning and evaluation process, as well as a standard way of working to increase transparency on the cost implications of BHS decisions.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

There are three main steps to achieve the objective:

  1. Data gathering via surveys and interviews. Here we aggregate the various approaches to design, procurement, operations, maintenance, and monetization of the baggage handling systems.
  2. Development of BHS decision making handbook and total cost of ownership model and toolkit. Establishment of industry benchmarks and cost ranges.
  3. Review and comments from airports, airlines, other stakeholders.
Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

The cost estimate for this project is as follows:
Direct project staff (2) for 2 years: $220,000
Part-time project staff (2) for 2 years: $40,000
Travel over 2 years: $20,000
3rd party survey support: $20,000
Consultancy: $40,000

Total: $340,000

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

This problem statement was developed as an outcome of a TCO analysis of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport baggage handling system. The analysis was jointly completed by the airport, Southwest Airlines, Vanderlande - the operator, and VTC, the design consultant. Lead by the problem submitter, Martin Plazyk with Vanderlande.

- TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Research Report 172: Guidebook for Considering Life-Cycle Costs in Airport Asset Procurement


Several key gaps exist in the current research, specifically the ACRP Research Report 172. The goal of this proposal aims to close the following gaps::
- lack of details in the analysis of the baggage handling system. The cost splits presented in the TCO tool and report do not accurately represent the current way of designing, costing, procuring, operating, or maintaining a BHS.
- This approach looks at the operations and maintenance costs based on sub-systems, such as the mechanical or electrical, discretely. In actuality, the approach needs to be system based, and service level focused
- this approach neglects indirect costs of performance, such has cost to carriers due to mishandled bags
- this approach does not lend itself to comparison of alternatives, which is critical in the procurement phase
- this research does not address stakeholder management in the planning and procurement process
- the research and TCO tool does not tie the TCO to any operational metrics, such as cost per bag handled
- The research does not include any baggage related revenue (e.g. airport fee per bag handled)
- the research does not provide an overview of different procurement methods and impacts on TCO
- the research does not provide any industry benchmarks or cost data
- the research does not provide any examples of contracts, performance metrics, operating guidelines, or revenue generation methods

Idea No. 210