6 Things to Consider when Ordering Test Baggage

30 June 2017

Whether you’re upgrading your system with next generation Hold Baggage Screening systems/ Explosive Detection Systems or simply making improvements to your Hold Baggage Handling System it makes sense to check the functionality and performance of the modifications ahead of ‘go live day’.

It should be easy enough, right? Just send 4 or 5 empty bags down the line and expect the selection of circa 200,000 baggage items you’re expecting from your customers on Monday to follow suit, right?

Wrong…

If you’re not using the correct type, size, weight, quantity of test pieces, the chances of running an effective test are pretty slim. For example; you shouldn’t just use a standard suitcase – you should use a durable, re-usable product that properly represents the baggage types that are processed on a day-to-day basis.

But it doesn’t just end there! – so to help we have compiled the tips below to make sure, when you're ordering Test Baggage, you’re equipped with test pieces that sustain the technical and physical demands of your baggage systems and intensive baggage security test programs.

6 Things to Consider when Ordering Test Baggage

1 – Generally, Test Bags come in 6 types;

Reject – Test bags are designed to force the X-Ray screening system to detect a threat and to segregate the baggage that presents the threat. These test bags are normally coloured red. “Reject” bags can feature lead numbers fastened to an internal backing board. These numbers are arranged as three or four digits in an agreed sequence. Each bag should carry red warning labels front and rear with a unique reference number for tracking and identification.

Clear – Test bags are coloured green to signify that they are guaranteed to contain no threats to the HBS system. Each bag should carry green warning labels front and rear with a unique reference number for tracking and identification.

IATA Standard Volume – Test bags are designed to simulate the diversity of in-gauge bags that can be anticipated at airport check-in desks; a mix of hard and soft construction cases, backpacks, holdalls and hat boxes, with a range of sizes and weights.

Low Cost Volume –  These test pieces are made up of rugged cardboard boxes designed to simulate standard volume bags, but at a lower cost.

Out of Gauge Items – (OOG) Items represent the smaller percentage of items that are checked into the hold of an aircraft but must be separated from conventional luggage and managed under a different baggage protocol. OOG items are typically over length or likely to lead to ‘bag jams’ if loaded onto the normal baggage conveyor system. Items in this category includes standard baggage which are outside the weight or size limits of the system (i.e. greater 32kg, or greater than 1000mm in length), surfing and ski equipment as well as children’s buggies and car seats. On baggage systems with certain design or equipment constraints, rucksacks can also be included in OOG baggage.

Level 4 - Test bags are 100% guaranteed to trigger a reject decision from the new Standard 3 machines. They’re smaller and super-rugged for everyday testing. 

2 - What type of test are you doing?

It is important to know what you want to test before ordering test baggage. There are a number of basic tests;

  • HBS (Hold Baggage Screening)/ EDS (Explosive Detection Screening) testing, to prove that the x-ray machine/s display all threats and segregate threat bags as appropriate.
  • Matrix Testing, to prove images from any x-ray machine display on any workstation.
  • Volume Testing, to prove the system can handle a large number of bags all at once.
  • Stress Testing, to ensure the system can process the maximum number of bags it is built to handle.
  • Out of Gauge Testing, to prove the dedicated OOG system can process OOG items correctly.

3 - What type of Test Bags do you need?

Does your airport transport a lot of skis or buggies? Then your test items should include those types of Out of Gauge (OOG) items. Do you run mostly long or short haul flights? Then remember to choose bag types that best reflect your passenger profile.

4 - Quantity

For best results, airports typically use the following quantities:

  • For HBS/ EDS Testing each X-Ray system being tested requires a minimum of 50 Clear and 50 Reject HBS Test Bags 
  • For Matrix Testing each X-Ray system being tested requires a minimum of 50 Clear and 50 Reject HBS Test Bags
  • Volume (throughput) Testing depends on the number of check-in desks being used at once. Typically, at least 50 Volume Bags are required for each check-in desk
  • Stress Testing depends on the number of bags the system is built to handle, and the duration of the test. Volume (IATA or Low Cost) are used for this test. The rule of thumb is for a 15 minute test = 300 bags, 30 minute test = 600 bags, 60 minute test = 1200 bags. For example, to test a 4 x-ray machine system for 60 minutes would require 4 x 1200 = 4,800 Test Bags.
  • Out of Gauge (OOG) Testing normally only calls for one or two items of each type typically encountered at the airport. Don’t forget to include items that are too-small as well as too-large for the normal in-gauge lines.

5 - Reliability

When you are engaged in running a test, you should be free to focus on the system rather than the test bags. Source reliable test bags that perform as you expect them to. Don’t compromise on quality and check your supplier is using the best available materials. 

6 - Finally, Identification

Lead numbers are used in Reject Test Baggage to make items easily identifiable when screened, and specialist inert simulant mirrors the atomic density of known threats, and doesn’t carry a sell-by date. You can also add other options for identification including:

  • 2 x customisable labels with a unique item Identification Number
  • 2D Barcode 
  • RFiD Tags
  • Security Tag with Serial Number

Not sure what you need? Speak to one of our experts on +44 (0)1245 496281.

Find out more about CHS Test Baggage, including Low Cost Volume baggage using rigid 2-ply cardboard boxes, specially designed to reliably test logistics handling systems as well as airport baggage systems.