Case Studies

General Mitchell International Airport: Checks in Baggage Handling System

Olivia Martin


Milwaukee County's General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) is the only airport in Wisconsin or Illinois with service from all the major domestic airlines. The airport serves approximately 6.5 million passengers per year on a property that spans over 2,300 acres. The baggage handling equipment-for both incoming and outgoing luggage-required replacement and modernization.

The modernization project began in 2013 and included the addition of new inbound and outbound baggage handling systems (BHS). Sumitomo Machinery Corporation of America's (SMA) Hyponic was selected as the preferred drives supplier for these systems. The outbound system was designed to accept baggage from airline check-in counters and route them to the Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) in the Checked Baggage Inspection System (CBIS) room. If necessary, suspect baggage is filtered via vertical sort units (VSU) to the Checked Baggage Reconciliation Area (CBRA) for additional screening. Cleared baggage is then sorted for manual loading to planes.

The inbound system needed to quickly transfer the baggage from incoming aircraft to baggage claim carousels for passenger retrieval.


Sumitomo Machinery Corporation of America added 350 Hyponic drives on the inbound and outbound baggage handling systems. The inbound system includes feed and sort to four new Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) in the (CBIS) area. Conveyors, including: 45 degree merge, vertical sort unit (VSU), queues, inclines, and turns were used to transport baggage throughout the airport. The outbound-in-line baggage screening project was completed project early 2014, while the new baggage claim facility was completed in mid-2015.

The new BHS at MKE includes some of the most advanced motor and speed reducer technologies available to handle the high baggage throughput requirements. The Hyponic integral gearmotors utilize an all steel hypoid gearing technology which delivers high output efficiency with very little noise. Each unit is grease filled and maintenance free eliminating the need for regular oil changes by airport personnel. The Hyponic housing is constructed of aluminum making it compact and lightweight.


The new BHS is not only more precise, but it works at much higher speeds. Each of the four EDS machines is able to handle thousands of bags per hour. The conveyor system allows baggage to be sent more efficiently throughout the airport to accommodate the hundreds of flights per day.
The renovations enable MKE to operate more efficiently, meeting the needs of passengers.

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