Speaker Interviews

Discover more about the topics and technologies to be discussed at this year's conference, via a series of exclusive interviews with a selection of our expert speakers.

The journey to 400 passengers per hour per security lane

Willem van Bavel, managing director, Bavel Consulting, advises on how best to reduce wait time and security operating costs

Describe your presentation.

Passenger volumes are continuing to grow at airports at unprecedented levels each year. IATA has forecasted that passenger volumes will double between 2016 and 2035. More and more passengers are being squeezed through confined security spaces and processes that are inherently inefficient. The impact this has on passenger and staff experience, as well as capacity, throughput and efficiency, is huge.

My presentation will shine a spotlight on the common security lane inefficiencies and introduce a framework to overcome them. Specifically, I will discuss what is required to achieve a 400 pax per hour security lane.

Can you give some examples of common security lane inefficiencies?

Security checkpoints, at first glance, look practically identical at every airport. They have similar technology, equipment and tools. Yet, how is it that some checkpoints are constantly outperforming others, while others are constantly lagging behind?

Part of the answer lies in security lane inefficiencies. There are two common categories of security lane inefficiencies: the individual components of the lane are operating out of sync; and variance in human behavior.

Security lanes that are constantly achieving a high, predictable throughput have one thing in common: the individual components of the security lane are all operating in sync and the whole process seems to work in harmony.

By truly understanding the performance of each component of the security lane (i.e. divestment, x-ray, walk-through metal detector, etc), we can map the value or inefficiency that is created for the whole performance of the lane. Ultimately it is about getting the balance of the lane right. It’s about creating and maintaining a sustainable operating rhythm of the lane. What this looks like varies for every airport, as we need to take airport demographics, operating model, equipment, legislation, etc into account.

Meanwhile, if security checkpoints were operated by machines rather than people, then performance would be predictable and similar across airports. When we add humans to the equation, however, we add variance to the process. Variance is the killer of lane efficiency. Security checkpoints need to deal with two sources of variance, both passengers and staff. But there are ways to directly and indirectly reduce the variance; for example, by creating well-defined processes and standards so that everyone is working the same way.

The importance of the human element is often overlooked. For example, we know that the loading role is one of the most important roles for successful operation of the security lane. The loader is responsible for preparing passengers for the walk-through metal detector, ensuring that the x-ray operator is set up for success with well-consolidated trays, and minimizing the reject rate by ensuring liquids and laptop compliance is adhered to. The loader, therefore, has a huge impact on the downstream processes at the security lane. Creating a standard for the loading role and providing the correct training and coaching can therefore make all the difference.

Have you worked with any airports to implement your ideas?

Bavel Consulting was only founded mid-2019, but it has already received good feedback from the industry, confirming the need for checkpoint operators to increase security lane throughput. This year, for example, we began our collaboration with Rhodes International Airport, managed by Fraport Greece, to redesign its checkpoint. The design will be fully implemented in readiness for summer 2020. By taking a collaborative approach through group workshops, the selected design is expected to increase throughput by 45%, despite the space constraints in the checkpoint area.

How important will new technology be in solving inefficiencies?

Technology is constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation in terms of what is possible at the security lane. However, airports tend to focus their improvement initiatives more on the technical solution than on the processes around the solution, including pain areas, broken processes, bottlenecks and delays, etc. We commonly see technology as an input rather than looking at the desired outcome. The key is to truly understand how a new technology will interact with the existing infrastructure and equipment.

CT scanning is a great example. CT scanning enables passengers to divest their items without removing liquids or laptops from their bags, thus greatly improving the passenger experience. It also improves compliance as the x-ray produces a 3D image, making it easier for the operator to identify security threats. CT scanning can also improve throughput.

However, in most cases it means that other parts of the security lane need to be upgraded as well. For example, additional divestment stations may need to be added to the lane so that the throughput benefits of CT scanning can be achieved.

‘Low tech’ can be just as effective if deployed correctly at airports. But the same rules apply. Technology is often capable of lifting the bar in terms of performance, but an outcome focus is needed to maximize the utilization of assets and technology.

Why 400 pax per hour – why not more?

The security x-ray is ultimately the limiting factor in terms of achieving a higher throughput. We know that centralized image processing (CIP) technology can reduce the decision time per lane to a sustainable five to six seconds per image, equivalent to about 400 passengers per hour. The key is to get the rest of the lane to work in harmony with the CIP technology so that each individual component of the security lane is capable of achieving 400 passengers per hour. It doesn’t make sense to install CIP technology, and get the benefits at the x-ray, only to have passengers queue up at the body scanner.

Don’t miss Willem van Bavel’s presentation, ‘The journey to 400 passengers per hour per security lane’, on Day 3 of the Passenger Terminal CONFERENCE, as part of the Increasing Airport Capacity stream. The full conference program can be found here.

Don’t miss Willem van Bavel’s presentation, ‘The journey to 400 passengers per hour per security lane’, on Day 3 of the Passenger Terminal CONFERENCE as part of the Increasing Airport Capacity stream. The full conference program can be found here.

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