Now arriving: Automation technology for airport entrance control

Automation is becoming more common at airports in an attempt to cut costs while maintaining appropriate levels of security, though the airport environment remains a challenge.


In a bid to cut costs while maintaining acceptable levels of customer service, airports are adopting automation for repetitive tasks involving security and access control.

Every day in airports across the world, countless employees are tasked with sitting at entry/exit doors, scanning boarding passes and other tasks. These duties can be easily and effectively automated through electronics, according to a new report entitled “The World Market for Pedestrian Entrance Control Equipment” from IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).

“Automation at airports represents a huge opportunity for suppliers of pedestrian entrance control equipment, particularly those that specialize in speed gates,” said Omar Talpur, security, fire and access control analyst at IHS. “The first process that everyone thinks about—and the area where there has probably been the most progress—is boarding control.

“In most airports around the world, employees are tasked with scanning individual boarding passes while passengers idly wait,” Talpur observed. “Automated boarding control provides airports with an opportunity to speed up the boarding process by deploying two to three speed gates in the boarding area to automate this process. In an industry where on-time departures are essential, any acceleration in boarding could potentially save millions of dollars each year.”

But if automation delivers so many advantages, why haven’t frequent flyers seen it deployed on a wider scale? A number of factors are inhibiting adoption.

“The airport environment is complex, and in most instances it takes years of planning and construction to roll out a solution that offers such radical changes,” Talpur said. “Automated boarding control won’t happen overnight. However, a snowball effect is inevitable as passengers and airport personnel become accustomed to working with the technology.”

To date, automated boarding control gates have been more prevalent in Europe than the United States.

“Many of Europe’s airports operate as for-profit businesses and are thus incentivized to cut costs and improve the traveler experience to keep passengers traveling and spending money in the airport,” Talpur noted. “Furthermore, in the United States, government agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection play a significant role in airport safety and security. New technologies are required to go through rigorous processes and approvals before deployment, which creates hurdles for suppliers looking to sell product into U.S. airports.”

Pedestrian entrance control manufacturers that are not prepared with products that can serve this industry will have a steep hill to climb should they look to pursue opportunities within airports in the future. Being first to market with an approved, reliable product will be critical to success.

- Edited by CFE Media. See more automation-related research.

No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Salary survey: How much are you worth?; Dedicated outdoor air systems; Energy models and lighting
Fire, life safety in schools; Fire protection codes; Detection, suppression, and notification; 2015 Commissioning Giants; Emergency and standby power in hospitals
HVAC and building envelope: Efficient, effective systems; Designing fire sprinkler systems; Wireless controls in buildings; 2015 Product of the Year winners
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Implementing microgrids: Controlling campus power generation; Understanding cogeneration systems; Evaluating UPS system efficiency; Driving data center PUE, efficiency
Optimizing genset sizing; How the Internet of Things affects the data center; Increasing transformer efficiency; Standby vs. emergency power in mission critical facilities
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.