Austin Straubel Ditches Swabbing for High-Tech CT Scanners

Jim Faber
Published in: 

Green BayThere's still a lot airport security officials can't talk about. But in Green Bay, WI, they're happy to discuss their baggage scanning equipment.

Five scanners - CT-80s, by Reveal Imaging Technologies - have made the experience at Austin Straubel International Airport better for flyers, airlines and security providers.

The airport added the scanners as part of a 2006 renovation that moved ticket counters to make room for checked-bag security behind them.

Before the scanners were installed, all passenger baggage was screened by hand, notes Timothy Decker, federal security director with the Department of Homeland Security for Austin Straubel, Outagamie County Regional Airport, Central Wisconsin Airport and Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport.

Decker requested the Reveal CT-80s for the state-of-the-art technology they would bring to Austin Straubel. He also prefers their lightweight and compact nature, as compared to other options on the market.

According to Reveal, each scanner weighs less than 4,000 pounds. Other equipment exceeding the lobby floor's approximate 5,500-pound weight limit would have required reconstructing the floor to provide the necessary support - adding time and cost to the project.

At almost 8 feet long and about 4½ feet wide, the machines are roughly a third of the size of previous generation machines, says James Buckley, vice president of sales for Reveal.

"It was very important to the airport that the equipment blend in with the aesthetics of the area and not restrict the flow of passengers in the ticket area," recalls Decker.

Overall, renovations actually netted more lobby space for passengers.

Significantly Faster

Before renovations and the arrival of the new scanning machines, passengers had to wait in line at the ticket counters and then carry their bags to a separate security station.

Now, it's a "one-stop check-in process," notes airport director Thomas Miller. "The passenger does not have to be delayed."

Miller estimates that the new equipment is three times faster than the airport's previous swabbing method, which took about three minutes per bag. Each new unit, he reports, easily scans 100 bags per hour. Reveal product literature says the CT-80 can handle up to 127 bags per hour.

The scanners allow security personnel to leave most bags closed - a plus for travelers and screeners alike.

The CT-80 uses proprietary, duel energy computed tomography to screen bags for a full spectrum of explosives. According to Reveal, it does so with the lowest possible rate of false alarms. Even when an alarm sounds, not every bag needs to be opened thanks to an alarm resolution feature.

Less Worker Strain

Size and speed were not the only advantages to Austin Straubel's new scanners.

"We noticed a marked decrease in work-related injuries because the officers no longer lift every piece of baggage onto a table for screening," Decker explains. "The Reveal imager allows the bags to be placed on the belt with little or no lifting."

Facts and Figures

Project:  Baggage Scanner Installation

Location: Austin Straubel International Airport - Green Bay, WI

Cost: $1.3 million (for five units)

Manufacturer: Reveal Imaging Technologies

Each Unit: 95.5" long, 55.3" wide and 58.3" tall

Construction Time: Less than a month

The Challenge: Find equipment that would fit into small available space and ease passenger flow

In all, moving the ticket counters and installing the five CT-80 scanners took a few weeks. Work was performed at night to avoid inconveniencing passengers.

The net result? TSA has state-of-the-art screening technology, passengers can drop off their checked bags at the ticket counter and the lobby area isn't cluttered with a security station.

"The biggest advantage for having the Reveal technology is not only the increased security, but also the speed and accuracy with which the officers can process the baggage," Decker concludes. "The CT-80 proved to be ideal for an airport the size of Green Bay, and the equipment has been very reliable, requiring very little maintenance."



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