The importance of maximising resources to minimise queues
With the upcoming Changi Airport Terminal 4 it’s important to note there will be a change in the way security will be handled. Firstly there will be a change in the way the security is handled, namely from a gate by gate model to a pre-immigration centralised security check. From observation the greatest bottlenecks are from the initial placement of items for scanning, pickup of items after security checks and body scanning/metal detector machines.
I have always believed that this has always been a large security risk in most large airports, due to the size of the queue in which there can be over 100 people in close proximity. In the event a terrorist is detected, it would already be an issue if there is a detonation. And i believe the answer to minimising the impact is by looking at supermarket checkout counters. Namely the difference between well-planned checkouts vs traditional checkouts and the efficiency gains associated.
The case study i would like to bring up is Aldi Supermarket in Germany and it’s use of extremely long checkout conveyor belt before the actual scanning of the item. Even with only the use of 2 manned checkout counters on average in their stores, they are able to process a far greater number of customers than rival supermarket chains. This is due to the customer being better able to arrange items on the conveyor belt and the checkout staff being able to gauge where the barcode is as the goods come towards them.
I believe that a multi-conveyor belt with longer lead up and pick up areas which scan items through a single scanner, would be the airport security version of an Aldi supermarket checkout counter. The way it would work is that passengers would go through multiple lanes, where there would be a conveyor belt at each lane that leads to a single machine, this helps to split up passengers so that there is a less of a security risk. Then about 3-4 of these conveyors would head towards a single operational x-ray scanner (with a backup scanner always ready to take over in case of breakdown), whilst the passenger themselves would head towards the other side. Multiple lines would proceed through a single body scanning machine to pickup their items which will come out of a single longer conveyor belt. However in the event of additional check for specific items, there can be a paddle that re-directs suspect baggage to an alternate line. This would always keep the x-ray operator focused on scanning as items will always be coming through, whilst the body scanning machine is always scanning passengers.
This will keep the actual bottlenecks constantly able to take passengers without waiting, whilst reducing the clumping of people together and speeding up security checks for better passenger experience.
This together with other measures including pre-screened passengers who are pre-screened according to their risk level (determined by countries travelled to, occupation, nationality, etc.) and more monitoring devices strategically positioned around the airport would greatly reduce the high risk associated with security checks.