Optimize airport security with automation

3 minutes

Airport security has increased in recent years. The equipment and staff increase the cost of the passage of each traveller. Cost that airlines obviously pass on to their customers. They grumble about rising prices, so airports need to cut costs while maintaining or enhancing security. Automation of some tasks can help them, as I saw at Las Vegas or Auckland Airport.

Choose what to optimize

The first step is, of course, to observe the situation and identify the bottleneck in the process. By means of timing, field observation (Gemba), mapping, we can draw the sequence of the process.

There are two ways to optimize the airport security process.

  • From the point of view of the customer (ie the passenger), in order to reduce the time it takes to pass the security controls.
  • From the point of view of the security officer, therefore from the cost of operating and airport charges billed to the passenger.

Both come to serve the passenger: the first reduces his transit time, the second reduces his cost of travel. I let you guess the chosen approach.

Following observations, it turns out that it is often the customer who is the bottleneck at the security control: he must take out computer, tablet, liquid products, remove his shoes, his belt, empty his pockets, leave his jacket, present his boarding pass. The safety officer has plenty of time to visualize and analyze the contents of his bags … Software to assist in the detection of liquids or other substances has improved in recent years.

An example of security automation

Vanderlande offers equipment to remove this bottleneck. I was able to test  Scannojet from the Pax Optima solution. The first step, the preparation of the effects of the traveler to X-rays, is multiplied. There are now three stations for travellers to prepare. The bottleneck becomes the security officer who watches the bags on X-ray. That’s good, he is now active 100% of his paid time. Before, he probably spent 30 to 50% of his time waiting for luggage to enter the machine.

The new bins are also larger, which reduces by approximately 10% to 30% the volume of bins to be treated, since more bags are placed in the same bin, with the shoes next to the bag.

Finally, their system proposes to reduce anon-added value task, source of back pain: moving bins. The new system automatically returns the bins as soon as they are emptied. A camera placed at the end of the conveyor ensures that the tray is empty before triggering its return to the preparation station. This is a good use of machine vision and a reduction in manual handling.

Security officiers can thus concentrate on tasks with added value: guiding and controlling travellers and their luggage.

Video demo, Scannojet at Reyjavik airport, Iceland

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