With countries starting to reopen their borders, maintaining health and safety is now paramount to supporting airlines and passengers.

To facilitate social distancing, self-service and automated solutions are the way forward. In partnership with Sihl, eezeetags has created an innovative self-adhesive baggage tagging technology that not only expedites the bag tagging process but enhances the passenger experience. We spoke with eezeetags founder Borry Vrieling to find out more about how this technology can help.

Meeting health and safety measures related to Covid-19

Vrieling comments: “We have become so used to keeping a certain type of physical distance to other human beings, that you can imagine if we just automatically bring in that physical distance, how a line can be much longer than it used to be.

“At manned desks, you still have to stand in line until it’s your turn to check-in and drop bags. This is predominantly the case at most airports worldwide. When taking into account the health and hygiene measures that need to be in place, currently and in the future, there will be a number of challenges for the airports, not only with passengers checking in and dropping bags, but also security, health and safety – all these things are coming into place.”

Incorporating Sihl’s PressureTAC material into eezeetags

It wasn’t until Vrieling experienced first-hand difficulties with tagging a bag that he decided to incorporate a patented technology from Sihl, a digital printable media firm that has been a partner of eezeetags for the last eight years.

Vrieling notes: “At one point, I was personally confronted with a self-service installation somewhere in the world and a bag tag was presented out of the kiosk to me and, despite being almost 40 years active in the label industry, I could not figure out how to tag a bag.”

It may sound like a common occurrence at airports, but with the aspect of customer-centric convenience becoming increasingly important in the digital age, it became clear there was a need to simplify the check-in process.

Although it has already been used in other applications, Sihl’s PressureTAC technology allowed eezeetags to address the potential future growth in capacity. Rather than compete with other bag tag companies, he decided to enable them to produce bag tags using Sihl’s certified material while eezeetags would license the technology and branding to designated bag tag producers.

The move has enabled collaborations within the industry and the faster adoption of automated processes at airports.

Benefits of an automated bag drop process

Vrieling establishes there was an existing trend towards self-service check-in and bag drop installations, but it was still a very small amount of operations at airports worldwide. However, this can be accelerated – if a passenger has already checked in at home, they have their boarding card on a phone. With this, they can go to a device to scan their boarding card, a bag check comes out and they can drop their bag.

He notes: “If the operation changes from desktop-operated manned staff operation to self-service, there will be a need to simplify things. If you put the important part of your process as an airport or airline in the hands of a very inexperienced staff member, namely the passenger, then you need to make it as easy as possible and that’s where eezeetags come in.”

Automated check-in and bag drop processes not only remove wait times at manned desks but allow faster check-ins and reduce the number of face-to-face interactions, which reinforces continued social distancing between airline staff and passengers.

Vrieling adds: “This is something not only eezeetags but the industry is aiming for – it has been accelerated by the challenges of the pandemic and the post-pandemic operations. The whole bag drop and remote check-in is the way of the future because it just facilitates the process, eliminates the waiting because traffic and transport issues can come about – it just makes it easier.”

Localised bag tag production capabilities

Especially in Europe, there are still a lot of different rules and regulations laid out by governments and authorities. However, there are markets that are getting back into a far more normal situation. One of them is the US, which has a large domestic market in aviation.

With investments in automated installations in the US being fast-tracked from four years to six months, it has driven extensive demand for self-service solutions, as well as eezeetag solutions.

Vrieling comments: “I’m very happy that we already have our US family members being George Schmitt & Co in Connecticut, together with our long-lasting agent Gateway Business Communications, taking care of the US market and therefore have local production. With them being close to market, they can serve the customers on a daily basis, much easier than we could do out of the Netherlands.”

Future expansion

With Sihl and eezeetags already part of an exclusive cooperation, it is now expanding operations via additional printing houses and various locations around the world, with one in Germany, the UAE, and the US.

Vrieling says: “We originally created a family that was only a family of two members and now it’s a family of six and this will grow. From an exclusive cooperation between the patent holder and the brand owner, we are licensing out our knowledge on production, our knowledge on depressor tech material, our knowledge on the market for self-service to the family members. We are creating consistency in quality and creating capacity to keep up with demand all over the world.”