2022 was a year that travel resumed across most parts of the world, with Changi Airport also seeing a strong recovery with more passengers and flights. Although the return of travellers is good news for the economy, a number of airports around the world continue to struggle as many airport workers worldwide moved on to other opportunities over the last two years, with a good number not returning even with travel recovering.
Changi Airport faces similar manpower shortage trends, particularly for roles in the airside, which impacts operations and passenger experience. If left unaddressed, this will pose a huge constraint for the future of Terminal 5’s operations. As working in the airside requires staff to be in outdoor conditions, it is not easy to attract talents for these jobs, given that there is also the added element of shift work. To address this manpower gap, Changi Airport Group (CAG) has been investing its resources to trial autonomy solutions.
Since February 2022, the Terminal 5 Specialised Systems (T5SS) team embarked on a trial to automate the driving of baggage tractors, as this function requires the highest number of drivers in the airside. Autonomous solutions also offer opportunities to improve baggage delivery efficiency, which in turn, enhances passenger service levels. The learnings from the trials will shape the concept of operations for baggage transportation and potentially catalyse autonomy for other airside vehicles. The trial is partially funded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) through its Aviation Development Fund (ADF), which supports initiatives to improve productivity in Singapore’s aviation sector through the use of innovative solutions.
Working with Aurrigo, a leading international provider of airport transport technology, the T5SS team explored the use of the Auto-Dolly, an autonomous individual baggage trailer, as well as the Auto-DollyTug, a tug variant which is designed to tow three additional trailers. Such individual trailer units can be deployed in different ways to help increase operational efficiency.
In addition, the Auto-Dolly also has the ability to be electronically tagged with one or more units so they can work together as a group, giving this piece of equipment an added advantage. The T5SS team is currently assessing the viability and impact of this new way of operations, to see how it can facilitate future airport processes.