Using automation to make happier travelers
Nobody says, “Yay, airports.”
Duty-free shopping. Yes!
Long queues and waiting. Yuck!
Airports are a brief stop on the way to somewhere else. Making that transition as smooth as possible is good for passengers and good for business.
When you make your way through an airport, you at least browse the duty-free.
But if you’re tired from waiting in lines and checking in baggage, you’re more likely to just want to sit back in one of those big, comfy chairs and just take a break.
So how do we reduce the amount of time waiting in line and get people to where they’re going faster?
This case study is about a self-service bag check-in machine that lets passengers check their bags in without needing to talk to a service agent.
Airports are not the most welcoming of places.
Many years ago, they were simply required to get somewhere.
That situation has improved, with airports having style and good design.
The boom in duty-free shopping has given people something much more enjoyable to do before flights.
Long queues are still one of the least enjoyable parts of a journey.
Online check-in has greatly reduced the time needed at the airport and airlines have encouraged this behavior by having priority lines for those who have checked in online.
This has helped reduce the lines for traditional check-in and greatly reduced waiting time for those frequent travellers who always check-in online.
But airlines still need to dedicate a check-in agent.
The BAGgate automates the bag check-in process. Passengers put their own bags on the scale and the machine checks the bag dimensions and weight. The barcoded bag sticker is then attached and the bag is sent off to where it needs to go.
Our client had already developed the scale and conveyor belt, so we were tasked with supplying the hardware for the system.
This was a closed system and didn’t need to integrate with too many other components.
Many industrial computing applications require a lot of backwards compatibility to connect with all the other pieces in the system.
In this case, the motherboard would become part of an attached computer.
Connections with the scale and conveyor belt could use standard technology between those devices and the control system.
The required external connections were:
A powerful computer was needed.
Low power computers with embedded processors are preferred for their reliability. That reliability comes at the cost of computing power.
The BAGgate would need to analyze bags and suitcases to determine if their size was within limits and then require the passengers to repack if necessary.
Making those computations is not a trivial process, so a recent, powerful computer was required.
Because it needed to connect to a screen, those connectors were needed. The option for an external VGA connection would also be useful if an extra monitor was needed.
The KINO-DH610 was chosen for this project.
It supports 9V – 24V external power.
Capable of supporting modern Intel processors (i3, i5, i7). The system would be able to process as many bags as possible, without the speed of the computer slowing down the process.
A screen could be attached so that passengers wouldn’t have to use a keyboard and mouse for anything. All they would have to do it follow onscreen instructions and push on-screen buttons when necessary.
The integrated network slot gave the necessary connections to the central systems.
PCI expansion slot and a single PCIe x1 connector.
This combination provides the necessary power to complete the system.
The KINO-DH610 was successfully used as the motherboard for this system.
It was combined with a 17” screen with touch input to provide easy to follow instructions and controls for passengers checking in bags.
The introduction of automated bag check-in saved time for passengers.
Passengers are less stressed from waiting in line so they have a more pleasant experience at the airport.
They also have more time to spend shopping in duty-free.
Airlines improve their quality of service. By cutting out one agent, they can save that cost.
But other than saving that cost, that agent can now be put to more efficient use.
Instead of dealing with mundane check-in procedures, they can simply be focused on helping passengers.
The products used for the BAGgate are shown below.