Held in May 2021, the 7th International Best Practice Competition announced Dubai Police as one of the winners for the exceptional outcomes of their project Safe Bags – Accuracy and Efficiency of Airport Hold Baggage Screening (HBS) System. Dubai Airports, the world’s busiest international passenger airport, handled and secured 31,093,870 bags in 2018. By EXPO 202O (now rescheduled for 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022) these numbers were expected to increase by more than 40%. The project objective was to increase the percentage of bags that are passed as safe by the airport HBS system via enhancing overall process accuracy and efficiency, without compromising security and delays by summoning passengers.

Fig 1: The General Department of Airport Security, Dubai Police

The HBS system uses specialized equipment and processes to screen passenger checked-in baggage (or hold baggage) to prevent the boarding of prohibited items classified as either: 1) Illegal items or 2) Dangerous/Prohibited items. The HBS system consisted of multiple levels of security; at each level, bags could be passed as safe and then begin their journey to the aircraft. If a bag could not be confirmed as safe, it proceeded to the next security check with the final check being where a police inspector was required to summon the passenger and physically search the bag.

Some levels of security were a bottleneck as they required human operator assistance. In particular, the procedure for summoning passengers had many drawbacks such as 1) Difficulty in contacting the passenger as he/she might be anywhere in the terminal, the majority being transit passengers 2) Due to the long waiting time for inspection, bags were stacked in search rooms and vulnerable to loss and damage 3) Late arriving passengers missing their flights 4) Some bags not reaching the aircraft on time causing flight delays 5) Passenger dissatisfaction due to being escorted to the search room or when prohibited belongings were confiscated, affecting the reputation of Dubai airports. 6) Some bags were reaching summoning inspectors due to issues of shape/size/tags/baggage handling system errors rather than being a potential safety risk.

The Safe Bags project was strategically linked with the UAE national strategies and the United Nations Strategic Goals for sustained and inclusive economic growth to drive progress. Dubai Police utilized the TRADE Benchmarking Methodology (Terms of Reference, Review, Acquire, Deploy, Evaluate) to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the HBS system at Dubai International (DXB) Airport Terminals 1, 2, and 3 by EXPO 2020. Figure 2 provides an overview of the benchmarking undertaken by Dubai Police as part of the Acquire best practices stage of TRADE.

Fig 2: Overview of the benchmarking undertaken by Dubai Police

Over one year, Dubai Police altered the Baggage Screening Process and introduced a new level of inspection giving clarity as to when the passengers need to be summoned from the aircraft, also allowing legal confiscation of prohibited items from checked-in baggage without summoning of passengers (with baggage inspections videoed); resulting in a reduction in flight delays. The screeners’ performance is now reviewed through control charts, system logs and daily reports and a screeners recognition system was introduced and enhanced screener training. For the future, for further efficiency improvements, a restructuring and innovation of a centralized center for HBS covering all terminals is planned to replace the local centres at each airport.

Since the implementation of the project in April 2019, screener productivity increased by 4.5% and there has been an estimated financial saving of AED 66.8 million (with the majority of savings for the airline companies due to less flight delays, less aircraft parking charges, and less passenger compensations). In an annual audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the General Department of Airport Security attained first place globally by achieving 99.53% in Aviation Security Index.

For further information on this best practice including a presentation by the Dubai Police team, and to learn from 1000’s of other best practices, join the BPIR.com.

Posted by: Ahmed Abbas
Author: Dr. Almas Tazein
Source : -
BPIR Category : 14.2.4 Conduct best practice/ process benchmarking
14.3.5 Reengineer business processes & systems
15.2.4 Service performance e.g. quality/delivery/value
15.6.7 Production (produce service) processes
6.4.1 Improve process/service performance
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