Though passenger numbers and luggage volume at Victoria Airport in British Columbia, Canada, are nowhere near the numbers at large international hubs, it was exactly for this reason that the baggage handling system (BHS) posed major challenges to the handling system OEM. This airport did not have a lot of room to accommodate all the usual modules – from check-in through security screening to sorting. 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 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 drive systems achieve excellent efficiencies even in the partial load range and at low speeds. They therefore pay for their initial cost within a few years or even only months, and total expenses over the product lifespan are significantly reduced. The frequency inverters are configured exactly to Glidepath’s specifications – with plug-in connectors for power, communications, encoders, and sensors. They feature an internal EtherNet/IP interface and are designed for easy feed-through installation.
The pluggable drives saved Glidepath a lot of time during installation and commissioning. The coded connectors enable speedy, error-free networking. “Thanks to 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,” adds Williams. Featuring Industrial Ethernet communications, the drives 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 accurate height adjustment when conveying diagonally. Glidepath only came to realize the full potential of the integrated positioning function of NORDAC FLEX inverters once the drives were commissioned. As they gathered parameters for various applications, NORD engineers soon found that the positioning function was the optimal solution for the luggage sorters.
Williams is more than satisfied with the professional service. A NORD specialist for their industrial sector provided significant support to Glidepath through efficient standardization. “On this project, we have just five different gear ratios for a job that has 90-odd motors in total and three different motor sizes”, Williams says. “That is a huge advantage. As a consequence, we need only one spare drive per gear type and engine size.”