Case Study on D.I.a Baggage Handling System

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  • Topic: Project management, Denver International Airport, Project planning
  • Pages : 7 (2172 words )
  • Download(s) : 568
  • Published : February 15, 2013
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Case Study on D.I.A Baggage Handling System

a. Stakeholders

b. Project Management Leader

c. Project Development

d. Outsourcing and decisions behind it

3. Issues and Problems

a. Three Key Project Management Mistakes

i. Project reaction to mistakes

4. Resolution

a. Steps to right the wrong

5. Conclusion

a. Lessons Learned

According to the initial plan, the project was to span from 1989 to 1993 and cost $1.7 billion. The opening of the airport was delayed four times due to problems with the baggage handling system. Overall 16 long months and a final cost of $4.5 billion. Several factors contributed to this fiasco, ranging from deficient scheduling, simple and untested technology, complexity of the systems and requirements that changed throughout the project itself. Let us take a look back at why Denver International Airport would take on such a project. The vision was to implement the largest automated baggage handling system the world had seen and allows Denver International Airport to be hailed as the air transportation hub, the largest in the United States with a capacity to handle more than 50 million passengers annually. The airport was to replace the Stapleton International Airport, a facility that had experienced serious congestion issues. Of course in order to handle that kind of capacity part of this plan involved implementing an automated baggage handling system, this was the critical piece of the plan. This report discusses the difficulties encountered as a direct result of a poor project plan, communication and implementation. Analyses have been done by many groups regarding this debacle and the failures itself are examples that are used to show the improper project management that was used.

First, let us briefly discuss what tried to be accomplished. The Denver International Airport wanted to introduce a baggage system that when operational would rely on a network of computers (approx. 300) to route the bags and then approximately 4000 auto-cars to drive the luggage on a 21-mile track, completely autonomous. There were to be laser scanners used to read bar codes on luggage with tags and that would route them to the correct terminal or location. Sounds simple enough however BAE was the company that would try to bring this all to reality and would be one of the largest airports built in the United States since 1974. United Airlines was one of the main drivers and reasons for the push for a high-speed automated baggage system ( This was all requested and scoped early in the planning phase. Now prior to deciding how to proceed the officials had thought each airline would develop its own systems, but this failed to occur so the Airport looked into purchasing a system to handle all terminals baggage. The scope of such a project would not find traditional methods as those were too investigated.

A man named Frank Kwapniewski, would be the site project manager “lucky” enough to call this project his “baby”. BAE had more than twenty some programmers working undistracted for two years to write software to handle all the automated needs of luggage, the engineers, which took just as long in their initial efforts of development. The initial design’s failures were inconsistency, so BAE sought to reduce such confusion and mishap, and wanted to understand the complex nature, however even a more scrutinous view would have foreshadowed the mishap of making such a large system functionally.

Richard de Neufville stated in an excerpt from his book that the theoretical studies, models and reports regarding the automated baggage system at Denver were avoidable and should never be repeated (Neufville). BAE’s design flaws of complexity and the effects...
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