Bermuda's L.F. Wade Int'l Leases New Baggage Reconciliation System

Robert Nordstrom
Published in: 


Staying current with technology is a bit like taking a roller coaster ride: Chugging up the rails with your new hardware and software, everything seems fine. Then you crest the apex and careen down wildly, terrified that the new technologies hiding around next bend will throw your system off the rails.

Facts & Figures

Project: Baggage Reconciliation System

Location: L.F. Wade International Airport (Bermuda)

Product Name: BagScan

Vendor: Quantum Aviation Solutions

Completed: April 2009

Key Benefits: Monthly lease payments vs. upfront capital expenditure; maintenance support

L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA) in Bermuda decided to skip the technology ride altogether for baggage reconciliation. Instead of purchasing a new system that could be obsolete in a few months, it leases BagScan from Quantum Aviation Solutions for a fixed monthly fee. Other BagScan users pay per bag or per flight departure.

"We do not own equipment that's depreciating and has to be amortized," explains BDA air operations manager Donald Clark. "We do not have to focus our attention on staying up to date with new hardware in order to maintain a quality baggage reconciliation system. The maintenance and upkeep of the system is assumed by Quantum, which provides us a current, state-of-the-art system at all times."

BDA's location, just 700 miles off the East Coast of the United States, makes the small island airport an important element of the Federal Aviation Administration's Western Atlantic Region - a role airport officials take very seriously.

"Because of our strategic location and the critical role we play within the region, we need to have current, state-of-the-art systems in place, whether we are talking about radar systems, landing systems or baggage systems," explains Clark. "We need to feel confident in these systems and know they are supported."

Confidence in its new baggage reconciliation system (BRS) is high.

High-Tech Tracking

BagScan is the BRS component of BagSuite, a larger system of baggage tracking and management products Quantum acquired from Lufthansa Systems in 2006. Quantum later evolved it into a centralized application service provider model, with servers in Atlanta that gather information from and distribute it to users worldwide.

BagScan uses wireless design and barcode technology to link with an airport's departure control system or airline's check-in system to provide the exact location of baggage throughout the airport facility and aircraft.

The system will not allow a bag to be loaded onto an aircraft unless the associated passenger is on the aircraft as well. Conversely, if a bag must be offloaded, BagScan tracks the exact location of the bag within the aircraft, which helps minimize costly delays while handlers try to locate a single bag on a fully loaded aircraft.

According to Clark, BagScan takes BDA's baggage reconciliation capabilities to the next level.

"Two of our current airlines are still using the old hand system for managing baggage," he notes. "With this new system, which creates a direct correlation between the passenger and the bag, we hope to make our baggage reconciliation system more attractive to them."

BagScan's sister component, BagTrail, is a baggage management system that provides baggage tracking from check-in at the departure airport to baggage claim at the final destination. Information can be retrieved at any point within a multi-terminal airport or across multiple airports.

BagTrack, Quantum's latest addition to the suite, is an interline baggage management system that gives both airlines and ground handlers the ability to track baggage throughout its entire journey from arrival at the terminal to its final destination.

Complete Suite or A La Carte

Robert Gonzalez, Quantum's director of Business Development, considers flexibility a key feature of BagSuite. Quantum will manage the total deployment process by bundling software, technical support, management consulting and system design. Or, users can acquire software only, software with hardware, and choose among consulting services.

"Baggage solutions can be deployed for a single airline or single flight station as well as across an airline's entire network," notes Gonzalez. "Or they can be deployed at large multi-airline/multi-terminal airports in a common-use environment."

Red, White & Bermuda

Tourists love Bermuda for its white sand beaches, rum swizzles and island culture. Flying into its only airport, they marvel at how the field juts into Castle Harbour. Most, however, are unaware of its American roots.

L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA) sits on 536 acres of land constructed in 1941 when engineers contracted by the U.S. Army Air Corps leveled several islands and filled in waterways between them. Originally built as Fort Bell, it also served as Kindley Air Force Base and later as a U.S. Naval air station. In 1995, ownership was transferred to the government of Bermuda and it was later renamed after a former Bermudan political party leader.

Currently, the airport operates as part of Bermuda's Ministry of Tourism & Transport. Seven airlines provide service to BDA from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States; two more are expected to begin service this summer.

BDA did not need to track baggage after it leaves the airport, so it opted for only the BagScan component.

"Bermuda was an interesting airport for us in that they had a competing BRS already in place," recalls Gonzalez. "We were able to service and support their current system while we installed our system. From the moment they contracted with us, they were up and running because we were able to supply them with hardware and technical support for their existing BRS while we installed our system."

Clark places a high premium on Quantum's "exceptional service" and its familiarity with the airport's existing system. "We had no downtime during the transition," he reports.

According to Gonzalez, the centralized application service provider model Quantum developed for BagSuite minimizes on-site hardware costs and maintenance headaches for customers. A Class A data center in Atlanta houses its dual-redundant servers.

"BagScan is much easier to work with because we do not have to maintain and support equipment that becomes obsolete in six to nine months," agrees Clark. "It makes everything a lot simpler."

It doesn't, specifies Gonzalez, slow down the baggage management process. He cites Quantum's recent BagSan installation at Kansai International Airport in Japan as an example. "They scan passenger luggage and automatically send the information to our Atlanta-based servers in real-time," he explains. "The data is displayed instantly in Tokyo. The response times are phenomenal and are equivalent to having hardware installed on site; you can't tell the difference."


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