Baggage screening: the importance of Totes

By Jimmy Dickerson

As a security detection specialist, why am I so passionate about totes? For twenty-five years I worked at Southwest airlines in the Security field and was Manager of the Airport Security Technology group prior to my departure. I have first-hand experience on the impact of dealing with inefficient systems or lost bags. In my current role, I’m working side-by-side with different BHS companies integrating our CT EDS solutions for hold baggage screening. In doing this, I’ve seen the impact a well-designed tote system has on operations.

Go to the airports in Frankfurt, Paris, London, Munich, Beijing, Singapore, and Dubai and you’ll see totes in action. At these airports, individual carrier systems or tote-based baggage handling systems (BHS) take bags at check-in and put them in an individual-controlled tray (or tote or bin) that carries that bag throughout the entire baggage handling process. Alarmed baggage is transported to the Baggage Reconciliation Area (in the tote) while cleared baggage is conveyed to the sortation system.

Seeing a tote-based BHS in action is a beautiful thing. Its modularity means sections run only when the tote is approaching and stops once the tote leaves that section. Think about what happens with conventional conveyors—they have to run for a length and half to make sure they’re empty before shutting down.

Why is this such a growing trend? Anything that helps decrease energy consumption and offers more reliable bag handling is seen as a big win. Add in the benefit from higher speeds (up to 7 m/s), near 100% tracking of baggage data (with a RFID tracking system in each tote for sortation), early bag storage options and overall lower maintenance costs. Great benefits that airports in the United States will soon realize as recently our CTX 9800 was certified by the TSA for the BEUMER Group’s CrisBag® totes. This marks the first of what we hope are more certifications for totes manufactured by other leading BHS companies.

But how do you know if totes are right for you? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are bag jams an issue?
  • Are you looking to decrease headcount in your checked baggage reconciliation area?
  • Do you have long distances to travel between terminals, to make up areas or to remote facilities?
  • Are you considering an early bag storage system?
  • Is available power and energy consumption a critical issue

If you answer “yes” to two or more of these questions you should look into what this technology can do for you. You’ll find they’re cost competitive, proven, reliable and fast.


Jimmy Dickerson joined Morpho Detection in April 2014 as EDS Product Application Manager after twenty-five years at Southwest Airlines. In his role at Southwest Airlines as Manager, Airport Security Technology Group, Jimmy worked closely with TSA on a number of key issues important to Southwest Airlines and the broader airline community, such as Risk-Based Security (RBS), Recapitalization/Optimization, AIT deployment, STIP, and the Planning Guidelines and Design Standards (PGDS).

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