Understanding all sub-processes and interdependencies of an airport process like a security control can be a complex task. Within this study ARC used simulation to better understand and optimize the throughput at a new security layout.
At the time of the study, Cologne Bonn Airport was planning to renew the security checkpoints. In order to be future-proof, the airport considered the planned change of EU liquid regulations where liquids can be taken on the plane again but require to be screened by means of suitable technology and equipment. In this scope the airport wanted to better understand the throughput rates per lane if the set-up and the screening process change and also identify measures of process and layout optimization to improve the overall throughput.
After comprehensive on-site observations, measurements and video analysis of the security checkpoints, Airport Research Center set-up and calibrate a detailed 3D simulation model. The security control model considered the several sub-processes, such as preparing trays, bag screening, person screening, secondary search of bags and persons, etc. All of these sub-processes highly influence the throughput, but also the interaction between them has a strong impact. Thus, the simulation model considered all relevant interdependencies between the various sub-processes of the passenger and bag flows, which can hardly be addressed with analytical calculation methods. With the help of the simulation model ARC identified those sub-processes, which defined the critical path and are the factors which limit the throughput. By simulating different layouts and changing parameters ARC recommended different actions to the airport to improve the throughput. In addition, the impact of staff was investigated: A high throughput achieved by a high number of staff might be more expensive than a lower throughput with less staff. With the simulation study ARC identified the configuration where the throughput per staff would be the highest.
Having identified the weakest element in the process chain of a security control, ARC could propose optimization measures to increase the possible throughput. These actions considered what can be done on short and long term. The implementation of these recommendations showed the desired effects in real life later on, which proves that a simulation model is a reliable tool for this kind of study.