Improving Airport Luggage Processing with Advanced Barcode Recognition and OCR Technologies

Jun 01, 2023

Airports handle millions of bags each year, with major airlines moving over 100 million bags each. With 25 million bags mishandled annually, proper handling is crucial. Using the best technology is key, starting with correct transfers from airport to airplane.

Luggage Sorting

A Dynamsoft customer is a solutions provider for airport luggage sorting. The airline software provider is continually evolving its solutions to improve speed, efficiencies, conveniences and more.

The company has an airport baggage sorting deployment where more than 20 cameras are in use. The cameras are embedded throughout the baggage scanning area. They are typically used to capture barcode information from barcodes placed on baggage for processing.

Baggage Tag Scanning via a Live Video Stream

As one can imagine, selecting a highly reliable and fast barcode recognition solution is essential to this application. After thorough research and testing, The company selected Dynamsoft Barcode Reader. One scanning challenge in this case is that the barcodes are tiny compared to the luggage size. The barcode reader SDK had to perform strongly for this scenario.

The embedded cameras are strategically placed around the baggage for the best scan opportunities. Essentially, the barcodes to be scanned are part of the baggage tag. The tag has the barcode and other information in it, like flight information. So, capturing the tag information and barcode is done via a live video stream.

Baggage Tag Information Retrieval with OCR Technology

Another challenge the technical team wanted to overcome involved removing the requirement to link to a database to scan tags. The information on the luggage tag includes the barcode, flight number, transfer station or destination, the airport identifier, and so on.

The information encoded on the barcode is fixed, which is equivalent to an index number. Because of this there is a need to connect to the airport’s database to get the complete information. But this query is charged to the airline. But the developers plan to use Dynamsoft’s OCR technology to capture the tag information. As a result, they will not need to connect to the airport’s database. In this way, they can save airlines from the expense of database queries.

Challenges in Utilizing Barcode Recognition and OCR Technologies

In the end, the three main technologies in use included RFID, barcode recognition, and OCR. With these technologies, yet another challenge can be overcome.

For the luggage tag, its position is not fixed. It can be placed almost anywhere. Also, the physical condition of the barcode can vary. It might be deformed, blocked, torn, poorly printed, or have some other condition making it extremely difficult to read.

Furthermore, the same challenge applies to OCR. The content that OCR needs to recognize includes numbers and English language. However, in this case the format and content are fixed.

Still, remember that barcode recognition and OCR are being applied while luggage is being moved along in less than perfect conditions. Employing both complementary technologies greatly reduces the scanning error.

Coming Full Circle with the Boarding Process

Before a flight, airport staff place a small barcode sticker on the luggage. The same barcode sticker is also placed on white board to create a “bingo sheet” for recording all luggage on the flight. Airport staff would look at all the bingo sheets and know immediately which container each bag is in. The bingo sheets come to handy in cases where a passenger can’t or decides not to board the flight and their bag has to be off loaded.

When all the luggage is fully loaded onto the plane, the airport staff summarizes and confirms that all the luggage has been correctly loaded onto the plane. Scanning each luggage barcode on the sheets is time-consuming and prone to errors. The airline software provider plans to develop a high-speed camera based on Dynamsoft’s Barcode Reader SDK to scan all barcodes on the white board at once, which saves time and reduces human error.

Getting Started

Try the Dynamsoft Barcode Reader SDK risk-free to ensure reliable processing of luggage tags with barcode technology. The Dynamsoft Label Recognizer adds further value to luggage processing via OCR. And, for technical support, Dynamsoft’s award-winning team is available via multiple channels.

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