Royal Schiphol Group hosted members of both the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub and the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group (BIWG) at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on 13 March 2023. The co-located events really highlighted the strong community aspect of both the FTE Hub and the BIWG, in which connections are made, and problems, learnings, visions and solutions shared to help advance everybody’s efforts faster. The sessions featured a range of keynotes, panel discussions and startup pitches, with speakers from the likes of KLM, Royal Schiphol Group, Schiphol Group Aviation Solutions, Vanderlande, Pangiam, AIrport Inspector, Abomis Innovations and Cobot Lift, as well as a strong global attendance. They provided an informal, welcoming environment with fantastic opportunities for networking, knowledge-sharing and business development, highlighting that the FTE Hub and BIWG really are the best platforms for those driving innovation efforts in our sector.
Keynote session: Royal Schiphol Group on an innovation strategy “aiming for the Moon and Mars”
The event began with a joint keynote session, bringing members of the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub and the FTE BIWG together for the first time. Attendees heard a fascinating presentation from Carolijn Schoofs, Head of Innovation, who shared how Royal Schiphol Group is “aiming for the Moon and Mars” with transformational, disruptive change and business models. Schoofs explained the Schiphol innovation ecosystem in 2023, as well as how autonomous airside operations are “a very promising answer to our most pressing challenges” and the innovations that will shape the future of baggage handling.
FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub Session
The FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub Session began with a joint presentation by Mieke Struik, Head, Schiphol Group Aviation Solutions, and Sjoerd Blum, Tech & Data Evangelist, Schiphol Group Aviation Solutions. They focused on the importance of collaboration in the industry to accelerate innovation. Struik and Blum highlighted how Schiphol Group Aviation Solutions is achieving this in three ways through Schiphol Products: “Unique and proven airport solutions, developed by and at Schiphol”; Schiphol Partnership: “Joint innovation partnerships addressing the industry’s current priority areas”; and Schiphol Ventures: “Financial investments in startups that focus on specific aviation challenges.”
Arlette van der Veer, Senior Manager Radical Innovation, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, followed with a passionate presentation on the airline’s innovation ecosystem. She shared key insights into how to overcome the difficulties of innovating in the aviation industry and looked ahead to digitisation of the KLM ecosystem. The airline’s Radical Innovation has three focus areas: Enable – building innovation capabilities, Connect – boosting collaboration and sharing, and Strategize – guiding strategic innovation.
The themes explored in the presentations were then expanded on in a panel discussion moderated by Ryan Ghee, Chief Operating Officer, Future Travel Experience, and featuring Mieke Struik, Head, Schiphol Group Aviation Solutions; Carolijn Schoofs, Head of Innovation, Royal Schiphol Group; and Arlette van der Veer, Senior Manager Radical Innovation, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
The FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub Session concluded with a series of three startup pitches. Alexis Long, Founder of Project DARTMOUTH, explained how Pangiam and Royal Schiphol Group are innovating with technology powered by Artificial Intelligence to develop a new way to screen hand baggage quickly and safely. Schiphol is the first major European airport to support Project DARTMOUTH, a collaboration between Pangiam and Google. Schiphol is testing the new technology in practice, in order for the system to be developed further.
Theodor Preststulen, Founder & CEO, AIrport Inspector, highlighted how the AI-powered AIrport Inspector solution has been developed to comprehensively inspect concrete and asphalt assets in airports with 100% coverage. It tracks damages over time, measuring the rate of degradation, and pinpointing high risk damages at the earliest possible stage.
Grant Phillips, CEO, ABOMIS Innovations Inc, presented what he described as a simpler and cheaper option to provide self-service in all airports. The ABOMIS Innovations Inc solution enables boarding pass printing and self-tagging without a kiosk, using check-in counter printers.
FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group Session
Darin Juby, Director Baggage Services, Greater Toronto Airports Authority and Head of Baggage Transformation, Future Travel Experience, led the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group Session, delivering the opening remarks and moderating the discussions. The discussions, which generated significant interaction among the members present, focused on ‘Sustainability in baggage’ and ‘Automation and shaping the future of baggage work – humans working with machines’.
Juby also launched the new FTE BIWG Community App – a unique platform designed to enable day-to-day engagement and collaboration between members, taking the BIWG to the next level. Juby explained how the online community will help to champion the incredible progress being made by BIWG partners and members, supporting collective industry advancement efforts.
Christopher Roos, Innovation Lead Future Baggage, Royal Schiphol Group and Henrik Elm Gulløv, CEO, Cobot Lift, delivered a joint presentation on reducing physical strain with the Cobot Lift baggage load solution. “By adding automation or robotic assistance to our baggage handling, we aim to decrease the physical strain, our dependency on human labour, while increasing the overall handling capacity,” Roos explained. The collaborative robotics solution will be the subject of a Proof of Concept at Schiphol in May/June 2023. Gulløv highlighted how the system can automatically handle 85% of baggage, provide a 300% operator productivity increase, and needs only one operator to supervise multiple robots.
The joint presentation stimulated a strong level of interaction, with members of the audience pointing out potential challenges and strengths, becoming a fantastic co-creation discussion on how robotics could be advanced in the baggage realm. Schiphol will continue to update the BIWG on the progress and learnings made.
Peter Hoefkens, System Concepting Director, delivered a fascinating presentation on how Vanderlande is aiming to revolutionise the baggage journey and move towards “Lights Out Operations”. This will mean every single component is interconnected into a data-driven, smart ecosystem; it will be highly automated, adaptive and predictable; and will involve advanced technologies, such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and prescriptive operations.