Ultra Electronics has successfully upgraded its UltraTrak baggage management system at London Heathrow Airport to create what is probably the largest single-site baggage processing operation in the world.

The entire 82-airline Heathrow Airport community now benefits from having all of their bags processed by UltraTrak. The system is deployed across all five terminals and comprises more than 700 scanners and 200 workstations and printers. It is forecast to handle 100 million items of baggage every year.

Airline Operator’s Committee (AOC) shared systems board chairman Dave Wilding commented: "The airline community at Heathrow realised that there were significant benefits for our passengers in having Ultra implement an airport-wide baggage management system. We are delighted that UltraTrak has delivered just that and it now means that our ability to handle the bags of our customers as they transfer between the terminals at Heathrow is greatly improved."

Over the past 12 months, Ultra, Heathrow Airport Ltd and the AOC have worked closely together to deliver the Heathrow integrated baggage system (HIBS) project. All baggage management hardware has been upgraded and the original installation has doubled in size with the inclusion of Terminal 5 and the new Terminal 2.

Ultra simplified baggage systems integration using a service orientated architecture from Ultra’s Information Broker (UltraIB). This solution has enabled collaboration and information exchange between the baggage handling community, adding resilience to baggage operations and delivering very significant operational efficiency gains.

Heathrow Airport Ltd IT baggage programme leader David Elliott said: "As part of our vision for Heathrow to be Europe’s hub of choice by making every journey better, we are delighted that Ultra has helped deliver a better passenger baggage experience and improved resilience to baggage operations, whilst at the same time enabling Heathrow Airport to make significant efficiency improvements."

UltraTrak enjoys the largest market share of any baggage management system and is used at more than 50 airports across five continents, handling around 30% of global air passenger traffic. UltraTrak forms a crucial part of the baggage handling process of any airport or airline, providing class-leading segregation, reconciliation, tracking and security capabilities which improve passenger experience. Advanced reporting capabilities offer prediction and analysis of baggage performance and identify cost savings that can be generated from process optimisation.

Ultra’s baggage re-flighting capability eliminates almost all the effort in processing mishandled bags and has saved one airline customer more than £11m per year.