How to modernise hold baggage screening systems

So, you’re dreading modernising your baggage screening systems to meet the current aviation safety rules? On one view, aviation safety regulations can be seen as a costly obligation. On another view, however, they provide airports with a great opportunity to transform their baggage handling system (BHS) and screening infrastructure for higher performance and efficiency.

By Christoph Oftring


Let’s check out the positive impacts the regulations could have on existing baggage handling systems and how to best implement the necessary hold baggage screening modifications.

By loading the video, you agree to Vimeo’s privacy policy.
Learn more

Advantages to modernising baggage screening

There may be additional costs involved in conforming to new regulations because it requires redesigning and reconfiguring your BHS, but there are plenty of opportunities to offset these set-up costs. There is the general increase in security standards that comes with compliance. Then there’s the system availability and throughput that comes with compliance simply because the new technology can clear more bags without having to send them for manual inspection. This is due to a simpler process with better machines and with less inspection levels: where there were five levels before, now there are three levels and no requirements for level-three machines.

Increase in security standards

Most updates to baggage screening processes are driven by a need to comply with international standards such as the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) or the US TSA. Compliance with the latest ECAC Standard 3, which is very close to the TSA standards for baggage handling systems, increases the security levels provided by an airport.

Screen baggage faster and more cost effectively

The modern CT screening machine can produce a higher handling rate. It’s able to process up to 1,500 bags per hour, much the same as the traditional dual-energy x-ray machine. But while the traditional machine could clear about 70 percent of all bags, the CT technology can clear around 80 percent – that’s an extra 150 bags per hour!

Fewer machines required

Modern system design requires fewer screening machines and routes due to a new, simpler and more optimised BHS design. The combination of system design and handling rate means that fewer bags are sent for manual inspection. It also means that a smaller number of very costly machines are required. This not only helps the airport to keep the investment level at a reasonable level but also results in less maintenance and use of spare parts.

Getting the design right

What’s key when modernising the security screening for ECAC Standard 3, TSA or other legislative compliance, is the system design. If done well, BHS designs can be made simpler, as illustrated below.

In San Francisco Airport’s Terminal 1, for example, a recent redevelopment program involved the consolidation of five independent baggage handling systems and 15 CTX checked baggage screening machines into one centralised screening matrix. A consolidated system allows the airlines to share the cost of using a single system, and also provides more efficient and flexible operations for the airport, airlines and screening. As in any common-use terminal, flexibility is critical.

What a well-designed baggage screening system entails:

  • It will be able to cope with the maximum throughput capacity of the BHS. Achieving the right system design will offer a fast and easy baggage flow management.
  • It will balance loads between redundant routes, ensuring use of available Explosive Detection System (EDS) resources, keeping the number of screening machines to a necessary minimum and leading to an opportunity for reduced CAPEX.
  • It will provide an opportunity to reduce the OPEX, by optimising the complete baggage handling maintenance, for example. Costs may also be lower when the airport includes scheduled HBS maintenance as part of the overall preventive baggage handling system maintenance.
  • ICS-based technology (where each bag is handled on an individual carrier, such as a tote, cart or tilt-tray) also adds to the capacity as it doesn’t produce tracking failures or jams which normally slow down capacity. In addition, if you add a CrisBag solution to the equation, 100 percent tracking will be added to the BHS itself.

Read more: “5 ways to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency in baggage handling”.

Security upgrades and renovations are difficult to do in a live environment. For some airports, COVID-19 shutdowns and lower capacities may be the perfect time to integrate the new technology required by ECAC Standard 3 or by TSA for use in US airports and for US pre-border clearance.

BEUMER Group’s tote-based CrisBag®, its cart-based autover® and its tilt-tray loop system for baggage handling are all technologies approved for use with screening processes by both the ECAC and the US TSA.

Combining it with a tote-based BHS system

Tote-based BHS systems are great companions to the legislative frameworks. They provide unique traceability of bags, in fulfilment of the regulations, which demand complete tracking of all bags. Tote-based BHS are able to instantly trace where a bag is.

Tote-based systems are likely to add a higher capacity to the screening process as a whole. With no bag jams, the system offers uninterrupted spacing of bags and generally calls for less manual inspection due to no tracking failures.

Better load sharing to fewer machines is highly important in the new security screening systems and tote systems work well here. Balancing the load from the check-in area equally to all machines available optimises the screening equipment. Additionally, the transport loops around the screening area allow for simple distribution and recirculation of bags requiring a second security screening.


Airports can really take advantage of the requirements set out in aviation safety regulations. Far from being burdensome, the obligation to upgrade or modernise existing systems to meet the new ECAC Standard 3 or TSA in the US can actually be a golden opportunity for airports to transform their BHS – especially in these times, when less traffic makes it easier and faster to upgrade the system without any disruption to operations.



Subscribe to our newsletter