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Improving maintenance quality in airport baggage handling operations

Koenig, Frank, Found, Pauline ORCID: and Kumar, Maneesh ORCID: 2019. Improving maintenance quality in airport baggage handling operations. Total Quality Management and Business Excellence 30 , S35-S52. 10.1080/14783363.2019.1665772

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Purpose: The findings of a recent study at Heathrow are presented. The objective of the study was an operational quality issue with the baggage reclaim process and addressed the problem of unexpected downtime of baggage carousels during operational hours. For airlines and airports, the reclaim carousel is a key element in the process whereby passengers decide about the quality of their journey. Failure that leads to longer waiting times or even the relocation of baggage to another carousel results in passenger dissatisfaction and therefore needs to be avoided. The current regime of ‘time-based’ or ‘preventative’ maintenance can be classified as ‘run-to-break’ or ‘reactive’, causing frequent and costly downtime. A novel condition-based monitoring method to improve the reliability of the time-critical baggage reclaim process is described. Reclaim carousel maintenance quality was improved by the development of innovative condition-based maintenance systems designed to meet the requirements of twenty-first century airport systems and Industry 4.0 in cooperation with Siemens DF (digital factory) and their internet of things (IoT) platform Mindsphere. Methodology: A technical action research approach was undertaken at one of the biggest capital airport baggage handling systems in Europe. From June 2016 a condition monitoring pilot system on one operational carousel was established using engineering cycle theory. A solution was designed, installed, continually monitored and the results discussed with practitioners from the operation and maintenance (O&M) department. Root cause analysis was used to identify reasons for abrasive wear, followed by failure simulations during operation. Technical vibration data was collected so that an adequate condition monitoring system could be developed and optimised that improved the maintenance quality of reclaim carousels and reduced the costs associated with unexpected failure of the baggage handling system. Findings: Run-to-break maintenance is never conducive to quality maintenance and control and results in great uncertainty and unreliability. Meeting the objective of improving quality was difficult because the assets are hidden and baggage carousels are in constant use; however using wireless beacon technology it was possible to identify what problems might occur and when. Using the cloud-based IoT and Airport 4.0 also necessitated many sophisticated checks and measures, which are now in development. This study highlights the value of changing from the antiquated ‘run to break’ maintenance of hidden assets in airport baggage handling carousels to high-quality maintenance through the use of condition monitoring using wireless vibration sensors linked to a cloud-based IoT ecosystem. Originality/Value: With this solution in operation, maintenance quality has been approved and heavy damage can be avoided. The solution addresses problems caused by a variety of hidden equipment needing the highest possible maintenance quality. It can instantly secure the best quality of service for critical assets in an operation that cannot afford any unplanned downtime.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1478-3363
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 July 2019
Date of Acceptance: 16 May 2019
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 18:59

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