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American Airlines, Los Angeles International Airport – 40% energy saved in baggage handling

  • Multi-level baggage handling system

Approx. 450 MOVIGEAR® and DRC.. units in Terminal 4 show the way forward in the baggage handling system sector.

Highly energy-efficient, quick to install, slim-line mounting, easy to operate, low noise level, low heat dissipation and extremely reliable – the operators and workers using our drive technology for baggage handling in Terminal 4 of Los Angeles International Airport all appreciate the long list of advantages.

The project at a glance

American Airlines logo
  • End customer: American Airlines, Fort Worth, Texas, United States
  • OEM: Daifuku Webb, Novi, Michigan, United States
  • Consulting: CAGE Inc., Irving, Texas, United States
  • Town/city: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Industry: Airport baggage handling
  • Application: Baggage handling systems and baggage security checks

Further information about American Airlines:

  • One of the world's biggest airlines
  • Originally a closed union of American regional airlines, founded in 1930
  • Company headquarters: Fort Worth, Texas, United States
  • Sole user of Terminal 4 at Los International Angeles (LAX)
  • Destinations in German-speaking region: Frankfurt am Main, Munich and Zurich
  • Fleet consists of 948 aircraft (as at September 2018)
  • Employees worldwide: 126 600 (2017)


Further information about Los Angeles International Airport:

  • Three-letter international airport code: LAX ("LA" for Los Angeles plus third filler letter "X")
  • Biggest international commercial airport in the greater Los Angeles area
  • Second-largest airport in the United States
  • Fourth-largest airport in the world
  • 84.6 million passengers in 2017
  • 9 terminals
  • Terminal 4 – built in 1961, fully upgraded in 2001, 14 gates, sole user American Airlines


Further information about Cage Inc.:

  • Founded in 1997
  • Company headquarters in Irving, Texas, United States
  • Consultancy and management company for the aviation industry
  • Focus: Planning, project planning, design, procurement, installation and maintenance of
    • Complex automatic baggage handling systems
    • Baggage security screening systems
    • Aircraft park and taxi planning
    • Gate support systems
    • Passenger boarding bridges
    • Drinking water systems for aircraft
Electricity meter display
Boosting efficiency and reducing the CO2 footprint

The project covers five machines in baggage check-in with electronic security screening (CBIS – checked baggage inspection system) and the entire area for the additional screening of any baggage identified as warranting further investigation (CBRA – checked baggage resolution area):

  • Replacing the previous asynchronous drive technology, which was oversized due to the high start-up torques (breakaway torques) required
  • Fulfilling the strict "California Title 24 energy standards" and corresponding reduction in energy consumption
  • Reducing operating costs
  • Reducing the noise level to protect employees
  • Reducing dissipated heat
  • Providing flexibility for future expansions
4 red mechatronic systems against a light-gray concrete backdrop
MOVIGEAR® drives and DRC.. electronic motors

Fully upgrading the drive technology with approx. 450 MOVIGEAR® mechatronic drives and DRC..:

  • Efficiency class IE4 attained using permanent magnet motors (PMM)
  • DBC – direct binary communication
  • High overload capacity – breakaway torque can exceed 300% of the nominal torque for 5 seconds
  • Compact, space-saving design in a single housing: DRC.. combines motor and electronics, while the gear box is also integrated alongside the motor and electronics in MOVIGEAR®
  • Completely enclosed, smooth overall drive design
  • Motors without fans mean quiet operation and no swirling of air, dirt or particles
Baggage conveyor system with belt conveyors and yellow steel construction with mechatronic drives to the side
Up to 40% lower energy costs thanks to MOVIGEAR®
  • Extremely reliable drive technology
  • System is easier to plan and simpler to assemble
  • Energy consumption reduced by up to 40 percent thanks to reduced current consumption, lower heat dissipation and removed need for addition cooling
  • Fast and more cost-effective installation thanks to decentralized technology
  • Improved working conditions for staff at Terminal 4
    • resulting from low noise level
    • resulting from low heat dissipation
  • Reduced storage costs for spare parts by cutting variants and components
  • New drive technology pays for itself quickly – within one year – thanks to lower energy and operating costs

Quote from Michael Stewart, Industry Manager BHS, SEW‑EURODRIVE Inc., Lyman, SC (USA)

The BHS sector in the U.S. has realized that its future lies in MOVIGEAR® permanent magnet motor technology.

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The project in detail

Review: Hordes of devices guzzling electricity hamper operations.

Baggage handling systems at airports such as that in Los Angeles operate almost 24/7, but they do not run continuously. Time and again, they are brought to a halt and then need to be started up again. Sometimes a lot of baggage, and thus a heavier load, needs transporting on the conveyor belt; other times it's less – presenting a major challenge for the drive technology involved.

To cope with the high breakaway torque required, the asynchronous motors used till then for operation and the far lower nominal torque after start-up were completely disproportionate and inefficient. The resulting accumulation of heat left the operators no choice but to fit expensive external cooling alongside the drive technology. This measure also increased the noise level, which caused both a predicament for staff at the Los Angeles airport and spiraling costs for American Airlines.

However, once SEW‑EURODRIVE conquered the market with its mechatronic drive technology, easy and efficient solutions became available to overcome these kinds of difficult conditions. Another ground-breaking development occurred in 2013, when our subsidiary in Lyman, South Carolina, entered into a partnership with CAGE Inc., a leading U.S. consultancy firm for baggage handling systems, headquartered in Irving, Texas.

Realization: Full upgrade

Baggage conveyor system with belt conveyors and yellow steel construction with mechatronic drives
Upgraded baggage handling at Los Angeles International Airport

American Airlines arranged for a total of five CTX‑9800 machines in the checked baggage inspection system (CBIS) zone and the entire checked baggage resolution area (CBRA) to be completely upgraded in Terminal 4 of Los Angeles International Airport. In the CBIS zone, the checked baggage travels through an electronic security screening system, while baggage identified as requiring further inspection is examined in the CBRA prior to being cleared through customs and then transported to the sorting system for departing baggage.

The project to upgrade the systems in Los Angeles presented some tough challenges. The asynchronous motors used till then needed replacing with highly efficient permanent magnet motors. The previous drive technology lagged way behind the high performance and overload capacity of our MOVIGEAR® product family. Specially optimized configuration algorithms were devised in close collaboration with SEW‑EURODRIVE to maximize the benefits of this new technology.

Nearly 450 cutting-edge, decentralized mechatronic systems are now installed in the upgraded systems and duly performing their task – extremely reliably and with maximum efficiency. The DRC.. electronic motors combine an IE4 permanent magnet motor with powerful electronics. The MOVIGEAR® drive system also features space-saving parallel-shaft helical gear unit technology in the shared housing.

This delivers high efficiency, low noise levels, pleasant temperatures, and a feel of the future.

The 450 or so MOVIGEAR® decentralized mechatronic and DRC.. electronic motors from SEW‑EURODRIVE are the linchpins in this future-proofing investment to upgrade Terminal 4 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The main benefit: The highly efficient MOVIGEAR® product family can reduce energy consumption by up to 40%. Moreover, the new drives boast a very high breakaway torque in excess of 300% of the nominal torque. The quick installation process, simplified maintenance and lower need for spare parts also reduce operating costs, meaning the investment will pay for itself within one year.

The employees working with the system particularly appreciate the dramatic reduction in the noise and heat given off compared to the previous equipment.

The operators at Los Angeles International Airport have been impressed by the unique characteristics of our mechatronic systems. Our innovative drive technology has also impressed one of the world's largest airlines in American Airlines, which now intends to use MOVIGEAR® to upgrade more automated baggage handling systems in the United States in the future. Construction work is already underway for a new conveyor system for handling baggage in arrivals at the same Terminal 4 in Los Angeles.

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