Vero Solutions has successfully completed a three-month pilot project to track the movements of luggage trolleys at Heathrow Airport to improve trolley management and demand forecasting.

At the heart of the project was the monitoring of trolley movements into and out of the baggage reclaim area at the airport’s terminal 4. Having established that the solution provides the desired data, Heathrow is now looking at how to roll out the solution across its terminals.

For the pilot project, each of the approximately 2,000 trolleys at terminal 4 was fitted with a passive RFID label, placed so that it was protected from trolley contents and users remained unaware of it. RFID readers were installed at all entrances and exits to the baggage reclaim area to detect if any trolleys are entering the area or leaving it.

Ben Wagenaar, Innovation Technologist at Heathrow, who headed up the pilot project, was delighted with the overall outcome. He commented:

“Providing trolleys in the right place at the right time can significantly enhance passenger experience. The data collected by the system will enable our forecasting teams to improve modelling tools, so the replenishment process can be planned more effectively. In addition, live data of stock levels will warn the trolley management teams if trolley numbers in key areas are getting low.”

Useful insights were gained during the trial including which type of tag should be used and where they should best be placed on the trolley to minimise wear and tear on the tag whilst maximising readability.

Trolleys at Heathrow do not currently carry asset labels, and during the trial it was recognised that being able to uniquely identify trolleys and record their movements will have many additional benefits. Ben explains:

“Tagging trolleys with RFID will give us an overview of how many are actually in operation and enable us to monitor the performance of our trolley service contractors. It will also allow us to build a maintenance history for each trolley, which over time will support decision making processes, such as whether a particular asset is beyond economic repair.”

Accurate data about trolley movements is expected help optimise the utilisation of trolleys and enable Heathrow to determine whether there are too many trolleys and if the pool size can be reduced.

Declan Begley, Business Development Manager at Vero Solutions, comments:

“We are proud to be working with the innovations team at Heathrow on this pioneering project. Since launching our trolley tracking solution in February, we have already had a lot of interest from other airports as well as supermarkets.”