Part one: keeping up with increasing passenger traffic
Airports are facing multiple challenges worldwide. From increasing passenger volume to changing regulations they must optimise their operations to maintain passenger satisfaction and improve their competitiveness in the market. This series of blogs identifies eight major challenges faced by many airports at the security checkpoint – a critical step in a passenger’s journey. Along the way, we will discuss the use of automated screening lanes (ASLs) and remote screening software to address them.
Growing air travel
Global passenger traffic is increasing at such a pace that airports are struggling to keep up. According to the growth forecast published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “passenger numbers are expected to reach seven billion by 2034 with a 3.8% average annual growth in demand”. The fastest-growing markets are China, the USA and India. This unprecedented increase is leading airports to find new and creative ways to quickly increase passenger throughput at the checkpoint in the most economical way.
To cope with the increasing demand, some airports choose to acquire and install additional screening lanes at the checkpoint or build new security checkpoints altogether. When this isn’t possible or when a short-term solution is required, airport operators and managers often turn to more temporary solutions such as adding more screening employees.
While this may temporarily help increase throughput, it doesn’t address one of the most common challenges: passengers. Some travellers take more time to go through the screening process, because they have more items to divest or simply have a lack of experience. On an existing conventional checkpoint lane, this often results in the underuse of resources and a reduction of the overall throughput, as well as leaving agents idle.
Automating the screening process by deploying ASLs can help to address these issues. The addition of multiple parallel divest stations would allow more than one passenger to simultaneously divest their items, regardless of their pace.
Likewise, providing more space for passengers to gather belongings in the revest area can make up for passengers who are slow to revest. By using an automated lane, the throughput is not limited by the passengers’ rapidity but instead by the screening agent’s capacity.
To reach optimal efficiency, the image analysis tasks need to be centralised to allow more than one operator to screen the images coming from one lane. Remote screening – or centralised image processing (CIP) – allows this by removing the one-to-one relationship between the image analyst and the X-ray scanner. This enables operators to share the workload during peak times.
CIP facilitates screening operations and helps airports to use ASLs to their full capacity. Vanderlande’s remote screening solution can be configured to let airports proceed to screening operations at any lane, in any location on the airport premises, or in any location connected to the airport through a private network.
Also part of the Vanderlande solution is the Advanced screening lane. While most ASLs on the market provide some throughput increase at the checkpoint, Vanderlande’s solution has evolved to offer unique, cutting-edge functionalities that bring the automated process to a higher level. From the beginning to the end of the lane, all its modules have been designed to optimise the screening process.
For example, the divest modules located at the start of the lane have been created to prevent any ‘tray starvation’. This is a situation often experienced with other basic automated lanes where passengers using the last divest station wait for available trays. Thanks to a transfer mechanism and sensors, Vanderlande’s solution ensures a proper distribution of the trays to passengers when they need them, easing the screening process and making it faster.
Another unique functionality can be added at the end of the lane, where empty trays usually pile up and create a bottleneck at the reclaim station. To solve this common issue, we have developed an empty tray recognition system (ETRS). The ETRS automatically recognises empty trays at the end of the reclaim area and automatically allows them to proceed to the tray collector.
Vanderlande’s passenger checkpoint solutions have allowed airports to see significant results, with throughput increases up to 40% when combined with effective conops (concept of operations).
Read the next article in the airport security series to find out how process automation and centralisation can help improve customer satisfaction and boost an airport’s competitive advantage in the market. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.