25 SEP 2015

Enabling Standard 3 Scanning at Heathrow Terminal 3

Integration of new Standard 3 Screening into Heathrow's Existing Baggage Hall

Rob Billingham, director for aviation at BakerHicks, formerly Morgan Sindall Professional Services, discusses the new baggage handling system at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and how the multidisciplinary project team was able to integrate new Standard 3 Screening into the Existing Baggage Hall (EBH). The design team included Baggage Integrator (Vanderlande), Civil and Structural and Building Services Designer (Baker-Hicks) and Architect (GTA).

Key to Heathrow Airport Limited’s (HAL) investment in their new state-of-the-art Terminal 3 Integrated Baggage handling system (T3IB) was its connection to the check-in desks and existing infrastructure. Also important was that the new system utilises the latest Standard 3 baggage screening technology and it is one of the first facilities in the country to use this technology, giving a more in-depth analysis of the baggage contents using an X-ray technology also used by medical Computer Tomography (CT) Scanners. The project responds to the Department for Transport/EU requirement to deploy European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) compliant Standard 3 Hold Baggage Screening (HBS) equipment by 2018, bringing enhanced security for air travel from the UK.

By connecting the existing check-in area in T3 to the new T3IB baggage handling system, the terminal will be able to process and screen all baggage from the existing departures building, as well as the intra- and inter-transfer baggage between terminals, supported by an early baggage storage facility.

25 09 2015 Screening Ventilation

Baggage screening area ventilation system

Initial works

The buildings that make up the EBH at T3 have been subject to alterations and regular development since the early 1960s. As with many buildings from this period they include the presence of asbestos in the building systems and fabric. Added to this, there is a complex structural system following numerous modifications, including a new baggage mezzanine and the primary support to the International Departure Lounge overhead. The floor level also has been through significant variations as it was formed from an area previously used as an airport apron.

The enabling works project required the need to redevelop the EBH, including removing the existing baggage systems and asbestos, as well as replacing the below ground Fire Main and modifying the main structure. New baggage systems and building services were integrated into the EBH to link all T3 check-in desks to the new T3IB facility via a multi-conveyor link bridge.

The approach

In parallel with baggage system functional design, feasibility works started in 2012, concentrating on impact assessments within the EBH. To capture the details of the existing installations a full 3D laser survey of the complete baggage hall was completed - an area measuring 50m wide by 190m long and 7m high. This produced over 100GB of information that needed to be analysed and incorporated into a 3D building model so that the team could understand how the new baggage systems could be designed and integrated into the existing space. The team then used Navisworks output from the model to check co-ordination issues and run clash detection on the new designs.

Once the information was processed the AutoCad 3D model enabled the team to assess the impact on the existing structure and services. The new baggage systems were designed around the existing constraints to minimise the cost and the programme impact. This required the team to design around the network of existing primary columns supporting the structure overhead.

Six new link conveyors entering the new link bridge whilst avoiding all of the existing primary building columns enabled the design to be completed without the need for any costly and disruptive primary steelwork modifications.

Maintaining a live environment

Passenger experience is of the utmost importance for HAL and so work had to be carried out whilst passengers continued to check in their baggage, without impeding or inconveniencing their journey.

This ‘live environment’ was required during the removal of all the existing Standard 2 screening, sortation and make-up baggage systems serving the existing check-in zones, and replacement of new feed conveyor loops. In addition, the EBH was required to house four of the terminal’s 12 new Standard 3 HBS machines, involving fundamental changes to the electrical infrastructure to support the new equipment.

The scale of the task was considerable: Terminal 3 processes circa 25,000 bags per day from various airlines and is spread across seven different passenger zones, feeding four individual baggage systems. It is not surprising, therefore, that maintaining a live environment during the strip-out and new build was a considerable challenge. An additional complication to the relocation process was the closure of Terminal 1 in July 2015. This brought additional volume and pressure on Terminal 3 phased planning.

The solution involves moving airlines between zones and migrating to new terminals in order to clear check-in zones over five separate construction phases, a process which is currently in progress and set to take place over a period of 18 months.

This process has currently reached phase three and has taken months of complex planning to ensure airlines, associated handlers and infrastructure are in place prior to the phased shut down and removal of the existing technology.

25 09 2015 Enabling Standard 3 Scanning Approach

Standard 3 Scanning Approach

Innovation and improvement

During the design process the team embraced the opportunity for innovation, and a good example of this is the new screening machine ventilation. In order to improve the environmental conditions within the EBH, teams at BakerHicks designed a network of extraction ducts to capture the warm air emitted from the new screening machines. This is discharged externally during summer time to keep operating temperatures down and the machines cool. During winter months the warm air is recirculated and used to provide beneficial heat to the loading docks of the baggage hall. 

Another notable improvement was to replace the existing lighting systems with LEDs and centrally controlled luminaires, saving HAL over 30 percent in lighting-related energy costs. This was supplemented by self-illuminated LED emergency signage throughout.

Benefits to Heathrow and passengers

Rob Billingham, director for aviation at BakerHicks and design manager for the T3 EBH project, comments that the project was designed to enable the integration of Standard 3 scanning machines:

"This was crucial in order that Heathrow can continue to lead its field in supporting the latest security regulations and most advanced technology. As each phase has been completed, the T3IB facility has offered numerous additional benefits to passengers and airlines."

This article has described the works required within the EBH, which has been a critical enabling project for the new T3IB facility. The overall system provides the following benefits for baggage operations at T3:

  • New high-speed conveyors to reduce baggage processing times

  • Early scan facilities in the system, to route the bag efficiently and provide continuous identification

  • Automated bag store providing an early check-in facility for passengers

  • Bi-directional conveyor loops from check-in providing greater system resilience

  • First UK use of robotic build cells to load Unit Loading Devices (ULD’s), reducing ergonomic issues previously encountered loading heavy bags

  • Assisted loading facilities at laterals to improve work conditions for airline handlers;

  • Connectivity with T5 via an underground baggage tunnel, improving flight connect times for transferring passengers

  • Improved baggage offload and reclaim systems for large aircraft, for example the Airbus A380

Darren Colderwood, Delivery Director for T3, T5 and T3IB Projects for HAL comments on the project:

"By continually developing and upgrading its assets, Heathrow is able to ensure it remains the number one choice for International and UK passengers."

The article also featured in Airport World (online).