Master Thesis

Technical System Specification to RFID-enable the Central Baggage Sorting Facility at Zurich Airport


The planning & engineering department of Unique Zurich Airport Ltd. is amongst other things responsible for infrastructure planning (terminal engineering) and the planning of logistics flows (passengers, aircraft, etc.). Logistics flows are modelled and simulated using Rockwell Arena, which is a discrete event simulation system. Such a system allows precise forecasting of logistics flows as well as logistics bottlenecks, but a simulation tool is only as good as its calibration: this is the reason why certain passenger process measurements must be executed, some of them being complex and using very large samples.

An important task of the planning & engineering department lies in optimising various passenger and logistics processes. One of these processes to be optimised is the process of central baggage sorting. Some large international airports (so far Amsterdam, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Las Vegas) have started trials in RFID-labelling checked baggage to improve their read rates and thus reduce their baggage irregularity rate. The long-term idea of RFID baggage labelling is to replace the existing barcode labels. RFID baggage labels promise higher read rates plus the option to track individual pieces of luggage over the whole airport.

Zurich Airport would like to conduct a trial in RFID-labelling checked baggage and thus will need to equip its baggage sorting facilities with RFID readers as well as all baggage labels with RFID tags. Such a project needs to be investigated from many perspectives like e.g. technical view, ICT view, operational view, and business view.

The aim of this master thesis is to develop a system specification stating precisely which equipment should be used at what places, thus treating the technical aspects of this project. The system specification, resulting from this master thesis, should serve as an implementation guide for the practical RFID trial. Setting up and conducting the pilot test is not in the scope of this master thesis.

Type Master Thesis
Subject area RFID Systems
Type of work 30% Theory, 70% Software (Java)
Student Thomas Vogel
Supervisor Dr. Carlo Mutti
Professor Prof. Dr. Armin Wittneben