Sunday, March 30, 2008

Heathrow T5 Killed by Queueing

The British might seem to be alone right now when it comes to airport system fiascos, but the good ole USA is just as good, if not better, at mangling baggage systems. So, what happened? Well, of all the lame excuses, finger pointing and spin-doctoring for the media, this item caught my attention from a performance analysis perspective:

"But the underground conveyor system became clogged because staff failed to remove luggage quickly enough at the final unloading stage. So the system shut down. It's like a shopper putting too many goods on the supermarket check-out belt."

Because the baggage transfer area is tightly secured (we hope), there are no clandestine videos available from passenger cellphones. However, the following queue-theoretic simulation reveals what likely happened.

Click on the image to start the simulation.

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