Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to fast-track the use of baggage robots after successful pilot project

‘Best lifting aid available’

After a two-week pilot project, Schiphol has decided to buy 19 baggage robots, which will go into use in the coming months. In the past six months, these robots have been developed in double-quick time, specially for Schiphol. The robots take over from humans the physically heavy element of baggage: lifting the suitcases. Staff in baggage reclaim Zuid, where KLM, Aviapartner and Viggo handle the baggage of departing passengers within Europe, will work with these robots. The introduction will be made more quickly following a successful pilot project in June.

“The focus at Schiphol must once again be on people, so it’s important that we improve the working conditions of baggage handlers. These robots do just that. They are the best available anywhere in the world and the tests we have done have shown that they really make things easier for the staff in the baggage basement. So we have decided to buy them straight away and put them into use. The purchase of these robots is a step towards complying with the requirements of the Labour Inspectorate and we will ensure that every workspace has a good lifting aid within one year,” says Ruud Sondag, CEO of Royal Schiphol Group.

He continues: “We expect to put more of these robots into use at Schiphol in the first half of 2024. And that’s not all: we are making more innovations in the time ahead. The pilot project with the lifting aid for transfer baggage was a success and we will soon have news about its rollout. In July we are also testing three other solutions. We are determined to make working in the baggage basement easier for everyone.”

Developed exclusively for Schiphol
The first baggage robot will be taken into use this autumn and the number of robots will be increased in stages to 19, by no later than the beginning of 2024. As staff members and robots work together, the airport expects that when the robots are in use on a large scale they will be able to lift at least 80% to 90% of all the items of baggage without any problem. The percentage was even higher during the pilot project in June. The robots, from the Danish company Cobot Lift, have been used for a long time in other sectors such as bakeries. In the past six months, the development of the robot has focused exclusively on lifting suitcases, for use at Schiphol.

Aviapartner: 'important step in improving working conditions'
Erik de Goeij, Managing Director of Aviapartner Netherlands: “The experiences of our employees in the pilot project with the COBOT are very positive. The tests showed that the robot can lift different types of suitcases from the baggage belt onto the baggage trolley. The employees involved already asked if these robots can be installed in more places. We see the purchase of these nineteen baggage robots as an important step in improving working conditions at Schiphol and are happy to cooperate in the further development and integration of the COBOT in the baggage basement. In the meantime, we will continue to guide our people with lifting instructions, job rotation and use currently available resources wherever possible.”