Summary of the Article “Airport 95: Automated Baggage System"
The main research problem addressed in the article is to highlight the flaws in the automated baggage system at the Denver International Airport. The study aims to pilot a study to explore the effectiveness of programs of this nature in the software engineering community. In February 1985, the opening of the Denver International Airport was significant news simply because Denver International Airport was the biggest airport opened since Dallas/Fort Worth Airport was opened in 1975. The DIA project thus presented a classical example to study the maturity of Project Management skills because of its contemporary skills and the projects bounded scope. In addition, the project was realistic because of its large scale and the its over 1 billion dollar budget.
In his research, Swatz the author of the article “Airport 95: Automated Baggage System" employs the literature of Havilland who wrote in 1954. In his paper, Havilland argued, “the major focus of design is shifting from algorithms and interfaces to the integration of the system as whole” (pg. 1) He posits that there is a need to integrate databases that go beyond symbolic and numeric information but includes the formation about physical status of the systems. These systems demand real time control and interfaces that must have the ability of running complex control systems with little human intervention (pg. 1). Havilland argues for an automated system that can run efficiently without human aid. The research was aimed at pointing if the DIA project could match what Havilland had in mind.
Swatz also cites the report from a German Consulting Company called BAE. The German company manufactured a car-on- track system that could work for five or three years. However, the company later admitted in the report that it could not substantiate the capability of the of the control systems of the operating strategies because of the inefficiencies. In a word, the automated systems had failed.
The method of the research applied in the study included an investigative approach that included applications of historical designs, and comparing them with the proposals presented with the bidding companies. The empirical research includes a careful analysis of the design used that comprised drawings and other details presented. The other method used was testing the working of the automated baggage usability at the airport and reporting the inefficiencies that were realized.
In the article, Swatz had done a marvelous job of pointing the failure of project management at developing an efficient automated baggage claim at Denver International Airport. In the article, Swazt reinforces the role of contracting agencies in maintaining control in the process. He also argues that effective project management plays a key role in shaping out the success of mega projects like the case of Denver International Airport. In addition, the paper provides enough details to develop alternatives whole embracing the role of simulations before the implementation of real projects.
I think the research had done a admirable job at pointing out the differences between theory and real projects. The use of the Denver International Airport as an example of engineering program that failed due to lack of sound engineering development and ethics. However, the article is limited by using only example. I think it could be better if the article would have used several cases to highlight the issues addressed.
Swatz, John. Airport 95: Automated Baggage System. Software Engineering Notes, Vol, 2 No2, 1996.