How airports can prepare for the effects of EDS Standard 3

6 december 2017

Safety and security remains an important topic for airports. Ensuring the safety of passengers during flights or while spending pastime in the airport itself, comes down to the application of international safety rules and regulations set by global organizations and councils.

EU Regulation
One of these measures is EU Regulation 1087/2011. This regulation indicates that all airports within the European Union should screen all of their Hold Baggage with Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) Standard 3 approved. This is a framework designed by the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and sets a minimum required level of detection. Standard 3 detects extremely small explosive quantities and provides the ability to view different parts of the baggage in a 3D image. The deadline for applying this regulation is set by 1 September 2020. In the United Kingdom, the regulation should even be applied before the end of September 2018.

By many in the airport industry, transferring to Standard 3 is seen as one of the most difficult and costly undertakings in recent years. The large investment does not allow any failure from project management side. Changing equipment from Standard 2 to Standard 3 requires a fairly long implementation time, which derives from various project phases that need to be considered. For example, processes and technological requirements need to be defined, capabilities and capacity of the current Baggage Handling System needs to be reviewed, the appropriate EDS supplier needs to be selected, design specifications of the BHS need to be determined, installation, pre-testing phases and final testing. All before going live.

Challenges for Baggage Handling Systems
So, what does applying EU Regulation 1087/2011 actually mean for all the airports involved? Where do challenges arise? What will the impact be and why are many airports hesitant to start?
The hesitance in upgrading to EDS Standard 3 might have to do with many airports only recently transferring to Standard 2. Several airports had to deal with a growing amount of flights and therefore more baggage to screen. Standard 2 machines have been used as a solution to meet these growing demands. The obligation of transferring to Standard 3 now influences available budgets. As indicated previously, other concerns arise in areas like logistics, integration in the BHS and operational issues.

First of all, Standard 3 machines are significantly more expensive to buy and maintain than the traditional X-ray units. So how many EDS Standard 3 machines should be purchased? What is sufficient to ensure a suitable throughput of baggage? After all, airports want to avoid having more spare parts than necessary. In addition, stakeholders emphasize that the investment should last for the coming 15 years.

Secondly, from a logistical point of view, the new EDS Standard 3 machines should be integrated into the current baggage handling system at the airport. Standard 3 machines are significantly larger than Standard 1 or 2 machines. This adds extra stress on the capacity of the airport and therefore a (re)design of the baggage handling system might be necessary.

Thirdly, Standard 3 has a big impact on the screening process. According to a whitepaper by BEUMER Group, the new EDS Standard 3 machines initially process the same amount of bags per hour (1500) as the traditional X-ray machines, but the main advantage can be seen in a clearing rate of about 80 percent versus 70 percent for the traditional X-ray technology. Even though the clearing rate of Standard 3 machines is much higher, the further processing of rejected bags in the rest of the BHS should be measured and calculated. The aim is that the BHS altogether has a constant flow and congestion is avoided.

How simulation can help with upgrading to EDS Standard 3
Simulation software provides the possibility to create a digital model of the entire Baggage Handling System and can be used to measure the effects of new regulations, like EU Regulation 1087/2011. To ensure a smooth upgrade to EDS Standard 3, simulation software can help by assessing all options to:

  • Minimize the effect on the current screening process;
  • Integrate Standard 3 machines into the available capacity;
  • Meet not only EU Regulation 1087/2011 requirements, but also future growth needs of the airport;
  • Validate the amount of needed EDS Standard 3 machines and minimize the investment

With simulation the most efficient layout of the Baggage Handling System can be determined. Simulation models can be built in such detail that each conveyor and screening machine is included. In this way, travel times for each bag can be calculated and congestion can be easily spotted. Simulation software provides the ability to test various scenarios backed by data.

EDS Standard 3 Validation
In conclusion, transferring to EDS Standard 3 is mandatory and certainly challenging. New screening equipment is expensive and airports want to avoid having more machines than necessary. Furthermore, the objective of every airport is to prevent lost or delayed baggage because the screening process has taken too long or has been inefficient. Simulating the Baggage Handling System with regards to transferring to Standard 3, provides one of the most validated ways to analyze each option or change in design before making any physical changes.

About the author
Simon van der Weij is involved in and responsible for improvements in airport capacity utilization for over 20 years. He has contributed to new construction and improvement projects at airports for baggage handling systems, security systems and passenger handling facilities. Simon holds an MSc in Mechanical Engineering and has a natural interest in the improvement of processes, systems and control rules. In his position as senior simulation engineer at INCONTROL Simulation Solutions he has managed projects at airports and several industrial and transport companies.

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