Machine Design – Ground Support Equipment

User testing ~6 months after project start

Client – Ramper Innovations – a startup

“What I found valuable about working with SGW was their approach to development. In initial brain storming sessions, the team came together with me so that they could understand my goals and constraints. Then in a couple of weeks the team presented various options for development. As the project progressed, design review sessions were very helpful as a way to assure me that things were on track, and that the SGW team was there to help mitigate my anxiety as well as the risks of developing a new product.”


Expertise Applied


According to industry research, 75 percent of baggage handlers will be injured on the job. Ramper Innovations approached SGW Designworks to help develop their flagship product, TISABAS™, which serves to eliminate the most common cause of baggage handler injury: moving and manipulating heavy luggage in a confined space. The goal of the TISABAS™ development effort was to design a product that provides a portable, expendable conveyor system. It would need to be lightweight enough to be moved into and out of a Bombardier Q400 or a similar-sized aircraft by one person.

It would also need to allow users to extend or collapse the unit as free space if the cargo hold is used up. The unit would need to be ultra rugged, simple to use, and designed so that Ramper Innovations’ existing manufacturing capacity could be used for production, as opposed to outsourced manufacturing.

Ramper Innovations defined functional goals and prototyped a sub-element of the system. However, a lot of work would still need to be done before a unit would be ready for field testing, and eventually, for production. This included concept development, early design options analysis, system engineering, safety considerations, manufacture-ability, durability, and cost control.


The SGW Designworks team applied their machine design expertise to evolve the design of TISABAS and developed a prototype ready for fiend and customer testing.

TISABAS prototype in the folded configuration

Results / Outcomes

  • Product prototype suitable for user testing in ~ 6 months
  • Product users report reduced stress on back, and faster loading / unloading


As with many product development projects, TISABAS™ presented multiple high-risk issues that required focus in the early stages of its development:

  • Weight management, balanced with the need for system rigidity
  • Reliability of a complex system in a harsh environment
  • Elimination of pinch-points and other safety risks
  • Maintain or improve baggage loading / unloading time

The SGW development team systematically approached each of the focus areas and successfully addressing each: Weight Management: Product engineers developed a unique aluminum frame, with multi-functional components providing significant structural rigidity. Specifically, the wear surface for the belt and the side channels con-tribute to the stiffness and overall function. This allowed the system to be light and handled by a single ramp agent.

Reliability: The environment that the TISABAS™ is used in requires the component count to be low and reliability to be high. All components and assemblies were specifically engineered to either be inherently resistant to weather or fully sealed. Temperatures can vary widely, and performance must be maintained in all conditions, which drove material choices. Aluminum and HDPE were selected for many critical system elements. Additionally, the system is battery operated and untethered from any other ramp equipment

Safety: The system folds/unfolds by a single ramp agent in a confined space. Each section was designed with a fold-assist that the operator engages via a handle. This ensures that the operator’s hands are in known locations during expanding and collapsing of the system. Specifically designed guards prevent the joints from catching loose bag tags, clothing, or the ramp agent.

Loading prototype unit into fuselage for testing
Prototype deployed in aircraft

The elimination of a power cord eliminates a tripping hazard, and decreases the ergonomic load when loading or unloading the unit. Baggage Load Time: TISABAS™ was designed to provide consistent flow of baggage with predictable load/unload time. Specific engineering effort focused on allowing the conveyors to run even during the process of expanding or collapsing the system, ensuring that bags are always moving. Folding the system during operation allows the ramp agent to continually fill the aircraft without stopping the flow of baggage.

Prototype testing with baggage handlers

Ramper Innovations launched the TISABAS™ product in late 2018. Demand is growing rapidly, and user response is overwhelmingly positive. In-house manufacturing is able to produce the product, thus minimizing the launch cost for Ramper Innovations.

Hardware Developed Technologies Leveraged
Aluminum FrameSolidworks Simulation
Folding MechanismsFinite Element Analysis
Electric Drive SystemSolidworks 3D Modeling
Roller / Belt SystemConventional Engineering Analysis
Wiring and ControlsIn-house Prototype Assembly Shop