In 2014, Manchester Airport implemented the BlipTrack solution, which since has dramatically improved the airport’s real-time operational decision-making, post-performance analysis, and capacity planning data analysis capabilities.

Growth – it’s inevitable. Without it, business stagnates and withers, but with it, business thrives and flourishes. However, what happens when significant growth gives rise to serious questions about safety and customer satisfaction?

They’re the kind of growth numbers that most companies can only ever dream about - like-for-like, year-on-year growth of an impressive 7.45%. At Manchester Airport, that means processing close to 28 million passengers in just one year, as of January 2018.

The impact of growth

As the UK’s third-largest international airport, Manchester has a mammoth task to fulfil. Not only does it need to process the hundreds of thousands of people that pass through its terminals each day quickly, safely and efficiently, it also needs to manage staff, security and future growth forecasting, all while handling the multiple day-to-day tasks that go into running the airport.

When old-fashioned solutions can’t solve modern problems

Technology has come a long way, yet many airports and other transport hubs still rely on CCTV monitoring and manual measurement to track the numbers and movement of passengers as they arrive, wait out their transits, and depart.

Unfortunately, these types of systems tend not only to be expensive, time-consuming and inaccurate, but also highly reactive – once you have identified a bottleneck, for example, it’s already too late to prevent it, and even if you can solve the problem, passengers are already frustrated. Manual systems also don’t do much for working out how people use the airport facilities and concessions.

Fortunately for travellers hoping to avoid lengthy queues and potential missed connections, Manchester Airport has, for four years, been using an innovative passenger flow technology to help keep people moving.

Leading the way with a revolutionary solution

In 2014, Manchester Airport became the first UK airport to implement a solution that would open new vistas of passenger measurement, and give the airport the opportunity to improve wait times, as well as security and customs processing. The airport adopted the BlipTrack solution, comprising a combination of WiFi sensors and data processing software, that together offer real-time passenger queue and flow information.

“We previously used CCTV to check queues at peak times. However, this was time-consuming and didn’t have the highest degree of accuracy. With BlipTrack, we have 24/7/365 consistent visibility of queue performance, which is a tremendous aid when looking at post-performance analysis,” says Paul Shaw, Customer Services Planning Analyst at Manchester Airport.

“The solution is implemented in each of our four security areas and three immigration halls. We can see how each area is performing in real time, which has helped to proactively reduce queues, establish a new Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the airport and the airlines for security queues, and accurately report the existing SLA between the airport and UK Border Force, which was not previously possible for Immigration. It has also benefited our relationships with the airlines as they appreciate the consistent transparency of our performance – both positive and negative!”

Results that speak for themselves

Since implementation, the airport has improved passenger handling times and processing efficiency. The knock-on effect of this is passengers who spend less time getting frustrated by slow-moving queues, spend more time in concession areas and, ultimately, have a much more pleasant airport experience.

For the airport, it means more effective on-the-go planning. It allows for better predictability, as they can analyse data for patterns over the months and weeks of the year, days of the week, specific times of day, holidays, and various other measures. This, in turn, leads to improved resource planning and even improved staff morale, as airport-based employees feel more comfortable with their workload.

“The solution has dramatically improved Manchester Airport’s real-time operational decision-making, post-performance analysis, and capacity planning data analysis capabilities. But, perhaps, more importantly, it has helped us give our passengers a more positive airport experience,” concludes Shaw.

UK airports are following suit

Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh airports have also implemented BlipTrack in their optimisation efforts. The city of Portsmouth, Port of Dover and Clapham Junction Railway Station are also reaping the benefits of the solution. Internationally, the solution helps streamline passenger flow at Dublin, Amsterdam Schiphol and JFK in New York. In recent years, it has been rolled out at ski resorts, amusement parks and at events all over the world.

“BlipTrack has proven quite successful. It has enabled CVG to continue our close collaboration with TSA to ensure that the passenger experience is one that enhances the journey experience not detracts from it.”

Candace McGraw

CEO at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

“BlipTrack gives us a clear picture of passenger movements, allowing us to provide the best customer service and proactively manage service levels before any issues arise.”

Giorgio Medici

Head of Customer Care at Milano Malpensa Airport

“BlipTrack helps us manage and eliminate potential problem spots within the facility. Sharing the processing time with our travelers provides them with peace of mind, so they may continue to expect a pleasant travel experience.” Read more

Gert-Jan de Graaff

President and CEO of JFKIAT

“BlipTrack provides valuable information that helps everyone manage expectations, especially when lines get long. The solution alerts airport employees about developing bottlenecks which allows them to react to the situation more quickly.” Read more

Daryl Jameson

Vice President at JFKIAT

“BlipTrack enables us to monitor the quality of the terminal processes to improve resource planning, and to perform consistent reporting to internal and external stakeholders.”Read more

Ward Decaluwé

Director Passenger Experience at Brussels Airport

“BlipTrack has given us a dynamic and valid tool to document our performance against service level agreements, and also to ensure that the right numbers of staff are in the right place, at the right time, for our passengers.” Read more

Rick Mernock

ATM Policy and Planning Manager at Manchester Airport

“With the automatic BlipTrack measurings, we now know precisely how many passengers to expect at the passport control at specific hours, and based on that we can reduce tailbacks.”

Kaj Lykke Majlund

Commanding Police Officer at Copenhagen Airport

“BlipTrack provides us with immediate visibility to the customer experience and resource effectiveness with throughput planning. The solution allows us to put the customer at ease at a critical stress point and reinforces our expectations around superior customer experience.” Read more

Brian Cobb

Chief Innovation Officer at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

“BlipTrack provides us with valuable insights into passenger processes. The insights are used to continuously improve our performance together with our stakeholders.

Martijn Van Boxtel

Operational Manager Terminal Logistics at Schiphol Group

“BlipTrack has helped us to resource our operations on-the-day and to identify pinch points and potential build ups. The very accurate data has enabled us to provide an optimum passenger experience by displaying accurate queue wait times.”

John Seely

Technology Projects Manager at Dublin Airport

“BlipTrack provides us with valuable real-time insights about passenger queue time dynamics. It helps our managers to secure low queue times at minimum cost, and also provides our Analysis Department with direct feedback on their forecasting performance.” Read more.

Esben Kolind

Head of Operational and Business Analysis at Copenhagen Airports

“BlipTrack has allowed us to gain a good understanding of the security check-point dynamics, and most importantly, our customers benefit directly by getting a better service.”

Anita Filli

Project Manager Landside Operations at Genève Aéroport

“As the most reliable, and one of the only solutions on the market capable of measuring passenger flow through multiple stages of the journey, it provides us with continuous, airport-wide visibility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” 

Guðmundur Karl Gautason

Manager - Operation research at Isavia

“BlipTrack has greatly helped improve the customer experience by providing us with the ability to schedule taxis to be available when needed.”

David J. Boenitz

Director of Ground Transportation at San Diego International Airport.

“We are able to keep our passenger fully informed 24/7 about what to expect at security. Our aim is to make the experience as smooth as possible – BlipTrack help us do that.”

Adrian Witherow

Chief Operating Officer at Edinburgh Airport

“We had very high expectations prior to the introduction of the system, and I am very happy to say that the outcome has proved very successful. The system has capabilities of further enhancements which will provide other long-term solutions in the future.”

Paul Davies

Operations Director at Bristol Airport

“Vital to our Master Plan programme is a deep understanding of airport capacity, bottlenecks and constraints, and BlipTrack is key to this.”

Chris Wilson

Head of Capacity & Performance at Birmingham International Airport

“We value the long-term cooperation and their professional approach in providing us with technology and data to ensure efficient operations and passenger satisfaction.”

Lars Erik Flatner

Head of ICT Portfolio at Avinor.

”BlipTrack helps us identify how passengers move through and use the airport, from the time they park, when they leave, and everywhere in between. It enables us to look for patterns through the day/week, to see the impact of the various actions we implement, to reduce bottlenecks and wait time for our passengers.”

Jan Hessellund

CEO at Billund Airport.

“BlipTrack has allowed us, together with our airport partners and stakeholders, to better manage operations, as well as improve the passenger experience by communicating expected wait times to passengers at processing points.”

Michael Side

Operations Technology Asset Manager at Auckland International Airport

With BlipTrack we have coverage at our fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week, enabling us to use service level agreements more fairly—not just over selected periods. This rapid information allows us to take fast, proactive measures before the situation escalates.”

Phil Holder

Head of Operations Support at Bristol Airport

“BlipTrack helps ensure that passengers experience a quick and easy passage through this stage of the journey, and significantly increase the opportunity for a positive experience throughout the airport.”

Øystein Skaar

Airport Director at Bergen Airport

“BlipTrack was our first “innovative” push for our organization. This has subsequently paid off in operational efficiency, customer goodwill, effective supporting deployment strategies, positive organizational momentum as well as positive global press and organizational credibility.”

Brian Cobb

Chief Innovation Officer at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

“With BlipTrack, we can proactively manage passenger flow, and respond promptly and efficiently to irregular operations and disruptions.”

Olivia Pierre

General Manager of Commercial and Customer Experience, Queenstown Airport