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Determining the optimal length of a security lane; short or long lanes?

Security lanes are continuously evolving as new technologies such as computed tomography, remote screening, advanced imaging technology, shoe scanners, tray return systems, and parallel loading have all changed the dynamic of the security lane. A direct result is that security lanes have become longer over time, which poses the question: what is the optimal length of a security lane?

There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to determining the optimal length of a security lane. The first argues for a shorter security lane that provides a personal passenger experience and customer service. The second argues for a longer security lane that provides increased productivity and throughput efficiency.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both operating models. Typically, a short security lane produces a lower throughput per hour, but requires less space and is typically operated by a small team. A checkpoint with short lanes can also provide flexibility in staff planning. Additional lanes can be opened throughout the day increasing capacity in smaller increments than a longer security lane can and at a lower operating cost.

A long security lane, on the other hand, typically produces a higher throughput per hour but also requires more space and typically more staff to operate. However, it also means that a fewer total number of lanes are required in the peak hour.

In some cases, a hybrid model combining short lane and long lane operating models is a viable solution. Long lanes provide a stable base capacity that is required throughout the day and the short lanes provide additional capacity at smaller increments during busier periods. This does, however, require the checkpoint to operate under two variations of a single operating model as the nuances of operating a short lane may be different to operating a long lane.

Defining the optimal length of a lane that fits the strategic goals of the airport.

Defining the optimal length of a security lane at any airport is highly dependent on the strategic goals of the security checkpoint and the expected level of service from passengers. Where efficiency and throughput are deemed important, we are likely to see long lanes. Where passenger experience is important, we are likely to see short lanes. It is important to define the strategic objectives of the checkpoint at the outset so that the appropriate operating model is adopted.

Once the strategic objectives are defined, the optimal length of the security lane can be evaluated using the unique input parameters of the airport by means of simulation modelling. Simulation modelling can help determine the optimal length of the lane, for example, the optimal number of divestment stations for parallel loading. Various scenarios and equipment layouts can be compared in simulation scenarios indicating the differences in throughput, congestion, space utilization etc.

Using this information, security checkpoint management can make accurate data driven decisions to ensure the optimal length of the security lane fits the airport objectives.

Read more about our approach to checkpoint design here

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