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Automating Material Handling Systems for Airports with AS-Interface

Thousands of pieces of baggage are handled at international airports every day. Despite the high volume of suitcases and luggage, all of which need to be reunited with their owner after the flight, misplaced bags are an exception. Automated material handling systems ensure that every piece of luggage goes where it needs to be. AS-Interface solutions from Pepperl+Fuchs are an effective part of these baggage handling systems.

The application

Baggage handling systems in international airports can span up to 30 km or more in length. Hundreds of actuators and thousands of sensors are installed along the route to detect, identify, check, and guide luggage from the check-in desk to the departure gate. System expansions often need to be made during the airport's normal operations. Additionally, the specific control systems and fieldbus systems used for such large-scale installations differ from continent to continent. In these kinds of applications, AS-Interface excels as an installation technology. The connection technology itself is relatively simple; there are no restrictions in terms of topology or network cable length. Safety and standard (nonsecure) signals, as well as power, are transmitted along the same flat cable. Moreover, there is no need to route redundant lines – a fact that results in significant cost savings potential for large-scale installations.

The goal

The goal here is to link the sensors and actuators installed along material handling systems and on baggage chutes using a flexible and cost-effective solution. The solution also has to include the ability to easily integrate new modules. The systems can be accessed to some extent during active operation. For this reason, safety components such as emergency stop buttons must be available. The ultimate goal is for safety signals of this type, as well as power and non-secure signals, to be transmitted in a network without the need for discrete wiring. 

The solution

The G11 module for AS-Interface offers a high level of flexibility.
The G11 module for AS-Interface offers a high level of flexibility.

Double gateways from Pepperl+Fuchs are used as the solution, with an integrated safety monitor depending on the function and installation in question. The AS-Interface flat cable runs in the mounting rail on the material handling system. Modules are connected either directly on the flat cable or using AS-Interface junction blocks. At the specific request of an equipment manufacturer, Pepperl+Fuchs developed the G11 sensor/actuator module for AS-Interface. This module can be connected via flat cable or by using an M12 connector plug to AS-Interface, offering a high level of flexibility and reducing the number of AS-Interface components required within a single installation. A standardized process is in place for mounting the solution; this process is the same for a 4I input module as it is for a 4I/4O input/output module. The G10 terminator with multiple impedance effectively extends the AS-Interface segment to 200 m, offering a cost-effective solution.

The benefits

The G10 module extends the AS-Interface segment.
The G10 module extends the AS-Interface segment.

Just a few components are required to easily produce a wide range of conveyor systems and adapt them on site. The mechanism for transmitting signals from safety components forms an integral part of the system. In most cases, the safety signals are simply transmitted via AS-Interface and evaluated in a central safety control system. In this way, AS-Interface significantly speeds up the process for setting up extensive material handling systems and complex system structures. This increases the productivity of the baggage handling systems, while at the same time driving significant savings in terms of wiring.

At a glance

  • Efficient wiring with integration of secure signals
  • Decentralized, flexible solution for large networks
  • Open system solution can be connected to all common fieldbus systems in use worldwide
  • Simple to install due to free topology
  • Cost-effective installation


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