Smiths Shrinks Cutting-Edge Screening Technology to Speed up Hand Luggage Security Process

Safety & Security

Fastest throughput with highest accuracy and lowest rate of false alarms


The Vision

A new-generation airport screening solution small enough for checkpoints, that minimises passenger hassle and increases throughput while meeting the latest security standards.

The Mission

We’ve all become resigned to the fact that, post-9/11, multi-process airport security checks are the price we must pay for safe air travel. But what was merely an irritating process is now in danger of becoming untenable.

No-one enjoys the palaver of extracting electronic devices and liquids from various protectors and pockets, let alone removing belts or shoes and displaying personal items in public. But, as passenger numbers have swollen and security measures intensified, the cumbersome process is increasingly creating checkpoint bottlenecks, causing longer queues and a rising rate of missed flights. Worse, checkpoint crowding could undermine the very security these areas are designed to protect, with overwhelmed security staff at higher risk of missing a potential threat.

The chief problem is that cabin bag screening systems haven’t fundamentally progressed from the x-ray machines first used in the 1970s.

This isn’t because more sophisticated technology isn’t available: since the early 1990s, the powerful, proprietary Computed Tomography (CT) technology from Smiths – originally developed for large-scale medical applications such as MRI scans – has also been used for screening hold baggage.

Unlike conventional x-ray scanners, which create a 2D view from fixed generators and detectors, the CT gantry rotates at a constant speed around the baggage as it progresses on a conveyor belt. As it spins, it takes hundreds of views at slightly different angles and then reconstructs the raw scan data into volumetric 3D images. These provide more precise measurements that facilitate very accurate judgements, for example, as to whether a substance is an explosive or other organic but benign item such as chocolate.

However, the apparatus for this system has been too bulky, heavy and intrusive for the checkpoint environment.

Until now.

The Innovation


The brains at Smiths Detection have shrunk CT technology down to the required scale without loss of precision – and achieved even greater performance and cost-benefits in the process.

The resulting Smiths HI-SCAN 6040 CTiX checkpoint scanner takes full advantage of CT capabilities to facilitate a higher detection rate and lower percentage of false alarms.

It already complies with the latest TSA and EU regulations and has ECAC European Explosives Detection Systems for Cabin Baggage (EDS CB) C1 and C2 standards approval. Its advanced 3D imaging capability also means it is likely to achieve the new C3 standard by the end of 2018.

With a C3-certified system, airports, subject to local authority approval, will be able to eliminate the requirement of removing electronics and liquids from bags for screening. Crucially, airport trials have demonstrated that this can reduce the number of images required per person by between 0.4 and 0.3 depending on the time of year, as well as trays.  In addition, the system has the fastest belt speed available, at 0.2m/s. Together, these factors will significantly improve checkpoint throughput and the passenger experience.

Further efficiencies can be gained through integration with an advanced screening and management platform, such as Smiths Detection’s Checkpoint.Evoplus. This streamlines operations through remote screening and directed search, and provides access to valuable management data.

At 3.3m (129.9”) long, and 1.67m (65.7”) wide and high, the CTiX is easily incorporated into existing checkpoint lanes, helping to reduce upgrade costs.

Supporting its innovations, Smiths Detection has also now drawn its globally-recognised expertise and unique modelling capabilities into a service that helps airlines optimise their existing checkpoint performance and design sophisticated new screening operations.

The Smiths Effect

By shrinking the CT technology for checkpoint application, and sharing its expertise, Smiths is enabling significant advantages for passengers, airlines and airport operators alike.

When combined with the remote screening system, HI SCAN 6040 CTiX can help airports achieve average pre-9/11 throughput figures of around 300/hr, compared with around 180/hr today.

This means that passengers will be faced with a far less onerous and stressful start to their journey, airlines will see on-time performance improve, and the combined effect will be far more conducive to higher retail, food and beverage spend at airports. All while optimising security measures as well as return on investment.

The solution is being continually advanced by Smiths Detection. The next version will offer even better performance, enable swifter responses to new threats, and automatically detect prohibited items such as guns and large knives.

The latter potentially means operators will no longer need to review every image and will make HI SCAN 6040 CTiX the first checkpoint solution able to meet the emerging European standard EDS CB C4. Trials are expected in 2019.

Smiths: a smarter way to fly.