Schiphol and baggage handlers submit joint plan to lighten workload

Schiphol and the six baggage handlers at the airport – KLM, Aviapartner, dnata, Menzies, Swissport and Viggo – are joining forces to make the work in the baggage halls lighter. The parties have submitted a joint action plan to the Labour Inspectorate (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie). The point of the plan is to reduce the physical workload for employees as much as possible. In the short term, that means a lifting aid at every work location, used by every employee. Later on, that means full automation. 

There is currently a lifting aid at around half of the work locations in the baggage halls. This number will be increased until every single work location has a lifting aid by April 2024. The parties are also working together to encourage the use of these aids by employees.  

Equipment for the work locations currently lacking a lifting aid, or where an existing aid is insufficient, has been selected and ordered. As previously announced, Schiphol purchased 30 transfer belts and 19 baggage robots after positive reactions from employees during testing. Of the three types of lifting aid recently tested in the baggage halls, Schiphol has already placed an first order for 80 pieces of equipment to ensure a rapid rollout. Employees will be involved in the implementation. 

There are various kinds of work location in the baggage halls at Schiphol depending on whether the baggage belongs to arriving or departing passengers or if the departing baggage is handled using a straight belt or round carousel, for example. The use of lifting aids will eliminate the load lifting of arriving items in the baggage halls. The same applies to more than half of the work locations where departing baggage is handled (using a belt). At the carousel, the lifting aids will reduce the load to such an extent that the risk of health problems is greatly reduced. 

Full automation 

At the same time, the parties are working on making work in the baggage halls fully automated. Employees also have an important role to play in an automated baggage hall. Over the next year and a half, Schiphol and the handling companies will be testing the latest technology, including automatic unloading equipment and baggage robots. These are enhanced versions of technology that can already be found at Schiphol. Automatic lifting aids and autonomous baggage transport are also being investigated.  

Independent research carried out by The Next Web and ErGos, which was enlisted by the Labour Inspectorate, has confirmed that the technology for these solutions is still in its infancy. Because of this uncertainty, it is not yet possible to say when exactly the baggage halls at Schiphol will be fully automated. Schiphol will be able to determine this at the end of 2024. 

The joint action plan can be downloaded on the right side of this page (in Dutch).