Market Trends

Aug. 1, 2003
Belt drives and other conveying equipment.

Demand Increases for Conveyor Belt Drives in Airport Security

Belt drives and rollers have been used in the airport industry for more than 20 years. Today, demand for the technology is steadily rising as airport security becomes more crucial.

According to Interroll Corp., a manufacturer of AC-powered conveyor belt drives, the most dramatic request occurred immediately after September 11, 2001. The request was not for product enhancements but for a huge increase in delivery of AC motorized pulleys. Interroll experienced a 62 percent increase in annual demand for belt drives from the airport sector, primarily airport security. These requirements included 4.5" diameter Model 113S units for carry-on baggage screening as well as 5.5" diameter Model 138E units for checked bag scanning.

Most belt drives in airport security in public areas run on a 115 volt, one-phase, 60 Hz power supply. Faced with the limitations of single-phase electrical power, many airport security scanner OEMs have requested more belt start-up torque. Interroll believes that it’s likely that within the next few years, OEMs of these systems will begin using variable frequency drives (VFD) to take advantage of the benefits of three- phase belt drive motors while running on a single-phase power supply.

Typically, three-phase electrical power is available to drive luggage handling belts and "checked bag" security scanning belts. Three-phase motors offer 150 percent of running torque at start-up, while single-phase motors only provide 70 percent of running torque at start-up.

Most manufacturers of carry-on bag scanning systems use Interroll’s Model 113S AC belt drive. Most often, one of these 0.2 HP units drives the intermittently running scanning tunnel belt and one drives the faster continuously running take-away belt.

For heavier scanning requirements, two of the 0.2 HP units (head and tail) are used to drive these belts. In general, tunnel scan belt speed is 44 fpm and take-away belt speed is 128 fpm. A starting capacitor is used to start the motor.

Since checked bag and other large bomb scanning systems have three-phase electrical power available, manufacturers normally use three-phase belt drive motors.

And since these systems carry heavier loads, they often employ the 5.5" diameter Model 138E motorized pulley. This unit is available at a variety of speeds, up to 1 HP. No capacitor is required to start a three-phase motor.

The motorized pulley’s compact design enables designers to construct safe scanning systems with no pinch points or exposed rotating parts. This feature is essential in systems which interface with the general public.

The advantages of using three phase electrical motors are:

-- More HP;

-- More start-up torque;

-- Runs cooler;

--Requires less amperage.

Interroll’s Model 113S is available up to 0.2 HP in single- phase and 0.3 HP in three-phase. The single-phase unit provides 45 lb of pull when driving the belt at 128 fpm and 32 lb at start-up. The three-phase unit provides 67 lb of pull when driving the belt at 128 fpm and 100 lb of pull at start-up.

The popularity and decreasing price of good quality VFDs has opened new doors for conveyor designers. It is now technically and commercially feasible to convert single-phase, 115-volt electrical power to 230-volt three-phase power and take advantage of the inherent characteristics of three-phase electrical motors.

Airport security remains a major market in the material handling industry and manufacturers will likely be developing new products and enhancing technology to meet new demand. Interroll, www.

RFID in Airport Baggage Handling

Crisplant, a vendor of airport material handling solutions, has chosen Escort Memory Systems’ (a Datalogic Group Company) complete radio frequency identification system for tracking luggage in several airport applications.

Soren Kappelgaard, project manager for R&D at Crisplant, and responsible for airport baggage handling solutions, has decided on EMS’ FastTrack LRP-Series passive reader/writers and low-cost labels to track and identify thousands of plastic luggage pallets in European airports. Said Soren, "We have in the past used bar code scanners to identify the plastic pallets, but there are numerous advantages in now using RFID to track these luggage pallets. No line of sight is required; there is easy antenna mounting, zero maintenance costs and competitive pricing. These are some of the major reasons in choosing RFID over bar code scanners, for future airport applications."

Stephen Crocker, EMS regional sales engineer for Europe/Middle East/Africa, adds, "We have been working with Crisplant very closely for the past two years, both directly, and though our Danish master distributor, BetaTechnic. We decided that our low-cost, LRP75 passive reader/writer would be the best solution for this critical application. We recommended our LRP-Series, since this product line is based on the world’s first open RFID protocol of 13.56Mhz - ISO15693. Airport applications represent a natural migration of our complete supply chain RFID solutions, stemming from our previous RFID applications in the postal and courier industries."

Similar to most airport baggage handling processes throughout the world, the luggage is placed on a plastic pallet, which has been outfitted with an EMS RFID label. In order to have the correct luggage arrive at the right destination, the pallets zip by the antennas at the rapid rate of about six feet per second. The LRP75 can read the tagged pallet and provide 100 percent traceability throughout the airports baggage-handling route.

EMS’ reader/writers are being installed in Sweden’s largest airport, Arlanda in Stockholm. The next project involves more than one hundred read stations at a large European airport in Northern Europe.

Escort Memory Systems,

FKI Logistex Crisplant, e-mail to [email protected].