Aug 02, 2019 • 4 min read

IABSC Young Professionals Award Winner

The International Association of Baggage Handling System Companies (IABSC) strives to be the leading voice for the baggage handling industry. Each month, the IABCS hosts a meeting in Dallas, Texas where leaders across the industry come together to discuss innovation, collaboration and industry trends. At their most recent meeting, a highlight was the announcement of the winner of the Young Professionals Challenge, a contest sponsored by the IABSC.

IABSC Young Professionals Award Winner

The challenged posed to the Young Professionals group was to create a strategy to accommodate the anticipated growth in airline traveler and baggage volume, forecast to double in the next 20 years, while recognizing the limitations of airport space, aging infrastructure, customer service, time, and budgetary restrictions. The winner of the contest received $5,000 for his winning solution, which was presented at the meeting.

His solution presented creative ways to further monetize the baggage handling process and use customer choice to balance demand. Drawing upon Uber as an example, the winner discussed the advantages of surge pricing, flexible capacity, and regional capability, taking into account that not all cities will experience 100% growth in the next twenty years.

The presentation points out that the capacity of baggage handling systems is sized for peak periods, which represent a small percentage of use time but dictate the entire cost of the system. Therefore, systems, as currently designed, have significant available capacity outside of peak periods and are growth-constrained by peak periods. Doubling the number of passengers necessitates doubling the peak capacity, a very expensive proposition. By incentivizing passengers to travel during non-peak periods or forego check bags during peak periods, airlines and airports can increase system utilization, meaning more bags and less cost.  He also suggested that charging for baggage system utilization will result in new revenue streams for airports, airlines, and suppliers, increasing competition and encouraging innovation.

Many of the attendees were expecting a technical solution to the IABSC challenge. It was expected that the winner would do a presentation about RFID, AS/RS, or independent carrier systems; not an economic solution. Many individuals were pleasantly surprised by the winner’s approach and appreciated his willingness to take a step back, away from the technical details, to analyze the way the industry functions.

The presentation and innovative solution exhibits the importance of groups like the IABSC and the Young Professionals Committee. Providing a forum outside of our day-to-day work demands – for brainstorming, experimenting, and discussing new ideas – is essential for the evolution of the baggage handling industry.

The 2008 recession in the United States and subsequent slowing of infrastructure development created an environment where young leaders are few and far between in this industry. There was simply a time when companies were not hiring, and talented young people were shifting to more stable industries. The result is that now, in a market seeing unprecedented growth in the aviation industry, there is a lack of young leadership when a need for fresh approaches to new challenges is greater than ever.

How will airports respond to growth projections? Will big data change the way airports function? What will be the effect of virtual reality on the travel industry? While we work on our day-to-day concerns like making it a profitable quarter, attracting talent, or locking in the next order, we must also find ways to conquer new challenges. Companies in the baggage handling industry need to take these changes seriously and prepare for the evolution of our business.

What was witnessed at this month’s IABSC meeting is an example of how the industry can cooperate to build a stronger future for all of us.

The IABSC Young Professionals Group was established to provide networking and professional development opportunities to young people in the baggage handling industry, as well as to attract new talent into the industry. The group also supports a yearly contest for its participants meant to generate new ideas and to energize the industry.

For information on the IABSC and the Young Professionals Group, visit IABSC.org

About the Author: Andrew Grusnick

Andrew Grusnick joined Daifuku Airport Technologies in 2013 where he has quickly worked his way up to the Director of Project Management for Daifuku Airport Technologies in North America.  A key attribute often bestowed on Andrew is his ability to empower his team, to strive to be their best.  With the ability to look at each experience, both positive and negative, as an opportunity to learn and grow.  Andrew is currently enrolled in the MBA program at Michigan State University.

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