Between Desert and Ocean: Dubai DXB, defeats the ravages of sand and salt with Transnorm XXL Curves

... their ability to cater for the latest and largest aircraft. The kilometres of ‘invisible’ baggage handling system however, are far less spectacular. As an integral part of those systems, the Transnorm Curve has always met the high demands required of it. Running trouble free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in hostile environments. At Dubai International airport, situated between a desert and an ocean, subject to wind borne sand and salt and temperatures in excess of 40°C, the requirements of the baggage handling system had to be completely redefined.

These specific demands set a different standard and a challenge that Transnorm took on to develop their proven product to a new level. As the camel has evolved for the trials of the desert, so the Transnorm curve has had to adapt to the climate and the duty to become ‘The Desert Curve’.

The requirements placed on baggage handling systems at airports which are also major hubs are harsh: Precise time slots, high passenger volume and limited transfer times allow no concessions on performance and reliability. Downtimes are measured in minutes.
Breaching any one of these criteria can frustrate flight plans and loose baggage, neither of which will endear you to the air traveller. Belt curve conveyors allow baggage handling systems to work in more confined spaces by turning the line to suit the contours of the building.
Baggage can be conveyed around curves with angles from 30° to 180°.
A spiralled curve can solve two problems, by both turning and lifting.
Non standard loads must be able to be handled ensuring that clasps and buckles do not snag or damage the belt.
All of these requirements have been met by Transnorm for over thirty years on airport systems all over the world, so what is so special about Dubai?

In the year 2000, a new baggage handling system was installed at Dubai’s terminal 1 that used belt curves from another manufacturer. At that time, experience of conditions in Dubai was minimal and, after just three years of operation the curves were showing signs of extreme wear, leading to a big increase in the need for major maintenance and spare parts.

In the Quick Cargo area of Terminal 2, more non Transnorm belt curves were installed, which, once again failed after a very short operational period. The Dubai Aviation Authority (DCA) carefully analysed the curve situation and their conclusions formed the basis for the technical requirements of the terminal 3 baggage handling system, started in 2000:

The new terminal 3 would need to be big, not only in terms of physical space, but also in terms of the performance of the key baggage system modules, particularly belt curve conveyors At the end of 2002, the DCA posted the most stringent curve specifications that bidders had ever had to match. Their top priority was durability in the harsh climate conditions.

Jumbo-baggage Dubai style...

InDubai the focus is to ensure the highest level of customer care. Guest workers from India & Pakistan ‘export’ a large amount of household appliances, so, considerable tolerance is shown with regard to the amount of baggage allowed per customer. Whilst most airports have a limit of 30 kilograms, passengers in Dubai can check in up to 50 kilograms per person. To accommodate these weights, the global standard 600mm wide check-in belt has to be increased to 1000mm. Rules for baggage dimensions are similarly generous – almost anything is accepted that can physically be placed on the check-in belt. As a consequence, the belt curve width was enlarged from the standard 1000mm to 1200mm and its load capacity increased.
The last and most stringent demand made on the Desert Curve by the DCA was an availability as close to 100% as possible. This is an important point knowing that the reputation of Dubai’s flag carrying airline ‘Emirates’ is for a 100% flight plan reliability, with no delays in departure due to missing baggage and the shortest baggage transfer times between connecting flights.
The breakdown of a belt curve during peak hours would cause turbulence at ground level!

The Test-Loop

Once the theoretical demands on Terminal 3 had been specified, the DCA made a further decision: A Test-Loop would be set up, under desert conditions, incorporating belt curves from Transnorm, the market leader!

In 2004, many miles from the Dubai airport terminals, a simple corrugated iron warehouse was built to house the Test-Loop. Five Transnorm curves, matching the tender specifications, were to be tested in continuous operation for around 12 months under extreme conditions. The test situation was realistic: baggage weighing 55-70 kilograms was conveyed for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, stopping and starting the system whilst fully loaded. From south and west, the ‘Schemel’ desert wind brought in sand and dust. From north and east a salt laden onshore wind blew in from the Persian Gulf eight kilometres away. Over many days the midday temperature reached 50° Celsius, and, during the night dropped to almost zero degrees causing condensation to form.

When Transnorm sales manager Sidy Diop visited the test loop in September 2004 he saw the wind carrying in this fine-grained sand through doors that were constantly open and felt the 50°Celsius heat. On his way back to the airport terminal, even a tyre on his car melted in the heat! Diop despaired and thought: ‘this isn’t going to work; even Transnorm Curves can’t bear these conditions! “

So, despite 10 years experience of curves being installed in the region; e.g. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi and more than 30 years of Transnorm expertise in the design of this new desert curve, local conditions were causing a lot of concern.

However, when the test was successfully completed, Transnorm had fulfilled all that they had been asked to do and even more. The completed Dubai Terminal 3 baggage handling system now includes around 650 belt curve conveyors and, after an incident free two year test and start-up phase, the DCA decided to exchange the curves in Terminals 1 and 2 for Transnorm curves!


To turn customer requirements into reliable products that perform beyond their specification needs experience.
This installation copes with the harshest requirements in the world and reality is the determining factor for satisfaction. Transnorm has probably mastered the biggest challenge ever in belt curve technology and we at Transnorm are proud to be a proven top OEM partner in the development of baggage handling systems.
Our belt curve program, supplying advanced belt turn solutions to airports around the world for over 30 years is now supported with a valuable new model: ‘The desert curve’.

Sidy Diop, Director Conveyor Modules Division at Transnorm: “Our Desert-Curve fulfills the harshest requirements worldwide.“

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