Why is it beneficial to have a system that automatically allocates passengers to lanes? Dieter Punzengruber: Like most travellers, I have suffered through an overcrowded waiting maze in front of a security screening many times. The clock is ticking and my departure time is edging closer. The last decision before the actual screening starts is the most important: I must choose my lane.
The super-stressed employees at the exit of the queue, with badges labelled 'ambassador', push me in one direction of the overcrowded holding area yelling lane and gate numbers. They are trying to help, but they are unfortunately as lost in the chaos as I am. The process is far from being under control, efficient and fair. If I make the wrong choice, I might miss my plane.
Operators must balance the queues to avoid idling and, as a result, avoid losing throughput capacity. Unbalanced queues are less efficient and more expensive. The pain of a missed flight due to delays in security screening is not only measured in cost alone, but also results in the airport gaining a permanent bad reputation.
Qmetrix has identified the factors influencing the decision and optimisation process. It has concluded that the issues stem from how many lanes are open, how full said lanes are and how many people are waiting in the holding areas in front of the fast, priority, passengers with restricted mobility (PRM) and economy subsections.
To be able to automatically correct deviations, a few more measures must be taken, such as whether the next person in line being called has moved and followed the recommendation, and whether there are people in the way, blocking the traversal walkway areas.
To find an optimal solution for the security system filter, the distance to the lane must be considered, in addition to controlling how many lanes are allocated to fast, priority and PRM sections. If there is more demand than supply, it should be considered what service level should be provided for the service categories.
The Qmetrix NXT system measures these factors to calculate the optimal way to guide every person on their way through the security filter.
Lanes are allocated dynamically, depending on demand and available resources. If there are no people waiting in the fast lane, there is no fast lane and all lanes are used for economy passengers instead. This is a simple concept, opening a wide field for optimisation. The same applies for priority and PRM.
The NXT system permanently assesses the situation at the filter and makes sure that all the lanes are used equally by design. That means higher throughput, equalised load and improved efficiency. It provides an optimal personal recommendation for every traveller, considering the current situation and the overall objective of the infrastructure provider.
The system uses a closed-loop algorithm to assess all mentioned measures and calculates the next move for every exiting passenger. Experience garnered from installations shows that travellers are happy to follow forwarding screens, if they feel that the system works well and to their benefit.
For the operator, the system provides an actual, animated view of what is happening at security on a dashboard. Controls make it possible to influence the passenger flow by manually overriding lane status. All historic information can be visualised in charts and tables to learn from the past.
The Qmetrix NXT system is a combination of software and hardware. Very often, 3D sensors are already installed and can be easily integrated in the NXT system. If there are no sensors, they have to be installed at the exits of the waiting queues in front of every security lane and in strategic points of the waiting lines.
Monitors at the exit of the waiting queues guide passengers to their lane, and clearly marked dynamic lane numbering with RGB colours and blinking helps travellers find the lane the allocation monitor has directed them to. Each lane has contacts on doors or switches that tell the NXT system if a lane is open or closed. A server is required to run the NXT system and a database to record movements for data analytics.
Qmetrix integrates and supplies all these components. After several installations, the NXT's components have become highly standardised, meaning the deployment of a new installation can be achieved in a short time.