Project Management

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Project Management

Table of Contents


Discussion and Analysis2

Obvious Problems:2

Deeper Problem of Reliable Delivery:3

Causes of Reliable Delivery Problem:4

Enormous Increase in Complexity:4

Difficulties in "Line Balancing":6

Short Term Fixes:8

Complementary, Backup System:8

Reduction in Complexity and Loads:9

Long Term Solutions:10

Efficient solutions require time:11



Design of the Automated Baggage System:17

Project Management


This research concerns the automated baggage handling system which was built by BAE Automated Systems, Incorporated of Carrollton, Texas for the Denver International Airport. The analysis of this system provides an important topic of study. From the baggage system's failure, principles of computer systems were clarified and many lessons were learned or relearned by those involved in the BAE project. While there are a variety of issues to learn from the many operations in the construction of the Denver International Airport, focus is placed on the baggage system itself. Some less relevant chapters serve to inform the reader of the occurrences that were influencing the timing and financial properties of the baggage system work as it was built.

Discussion and Analysis

Obvious Problems:

Highly visible mechanical problems have plagued the automated baggage system at Denver. As shown by television and widely reported in the trade and popular press, the baggage carts have jammed in the tracks, misaligned with the conveyor belts feeding the bags, and mutilated and lost bags (Flynn, 1994; Henderson, 1994; Myerson, 1994).

To deal with these difficulties, the contractors are installing additional equipment. For example, more laser readers will reduce the probability of misreading the destination of each bag. More controllers will slow down the carts, reduce misalignments with the conveyors feeding bags, and minimize the momentum that tossed bags off the carts. Overall, solutions to the mechanical problems come at the price of increased costs, reduced performance, and lower cost-effectiveness of the system.

Deeper Problem of Reliable Delivery:

The blatant difficulties with the automated baggage system designed for the New Denver Airport are almost certainly only the tip of the iceberg. There is a deeper, fundamental problem associated with all complex systems of handling baggage, cargo or materials.

The more extensive and long-term difficulty is that of "reliable delivery times". The fully automated system may never be able to deliver bags consistently within the times and at the capacity originally promised. This difficulty is a consequence of the extreme complexity of its design combined with the variability of the loads.

The entire system consists of well over a hundred waiting lines that feed into each other. For example, bags can only be unloaded from the aircraft and put into the system when the unloading conveyor belt is moving, this belt will only advance when there are empty carts on which to place bags, empty carts will only arrive after they have deposited their previous loads and have proceeded through the system, and so on. In short it is a complicated "cascade of queues".

The patterns of loads on the system are highly variable. These depend on the season, the time of day, the type of aircraft at each gate, the number of passengers on these aircraft, the percentage traveling with skis, ...
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