Edited by Mike Santora
Passenger numbers and luggage volume at Victoria Airport in British Columbia, Canada, are nowhere near the numbers at large international hubs. Yet there are still plenty of challenges for the OEM that provides the airport’s baggage handling system (BHS). The airport did not have the room to accommodate all the usual modules – from check-in through security screening to sorting. To fix the problem, the airport company commissioned Glidepath, a manufacturer specializing in baggage conveying, parcel sorting, and freight logistics technology.
The new handling system has a capacity of 750 pieces of luggage per hour. “The baggage handling system is made up of 85 conveyors with a total length of some 250 m,” says Jason Williams, project engineer at Glidepath. “It comprises two in-line screening CT machines. It has two decision points for sortation, and it has two separate infeed lines. It has four-way sorters, spiral power curves, bag alignment devices, a luffing conveyor, and Glidepath’s proprietary ploughs and power curves.”
All drive tasks are carried out by IE4 AC vector drives from Nord Drivesystems. Each drive unit consists of an IE4 permanent-magnet synchronous motor, a motor-mounted NORDAC FLEX frequency inverter, and a two-stage gearbox. The hollow shaft gearboxes are secured on the drive axis with a Gripmaxx bushing. This attachment ensures safe, easy-maintenance fitting without keys. The frequency inverters are configured exactly to Glidepath’s specifications— with plug-in connectors for power, communications, encoders, and sensors. They also have an internal EtherNet/IP interface with easy feed-through installation.
The pluggable drives saved Glidepath time during installation and commissioning. The coded connectors enable quick and accurate networking. “With the field I/O capability of the NORD drives, we were able to connect the majority of our field devices directly to the frequency inverters,” said Williams. Additionally, industrial ethernet communications enable not only remote monitoring and control of all drive axes, but also seamless monitoring of connected sensors and actuators. For Williams, this was a crucial factor: “The real advantage here is, the drives support high-speed Ethernet, which allows for reliable bag tracking on our system.”
The drive systems take on various tasks at the conveyor modules. They move luggage at different speeds from one belt to the next. They ensure height adjustment when conveying diagonally. Glidepath only came to realize the full potential of the integrated positioning function of the inverters once the drives were commissioned. As they gathered parameters for various applications, NORD engineers soon found that the positioning function was the solution for the luggage sorters.