Denver International Airport Baggage Handling System


DenverInternational Airport Baggage Handling System

Tableof Contents

Denver International Airport Baggage Handling System 3

Case Study 3

Project Objectives 3

Case Study Objectives 3

Introduction 3

Discussion and Project Summary 4

Project Analysis &amp Critical Assessment 6

Recommendations &amp Conclusions 8

References 9

DenverInternational Airport Baggage Handling SystemCaseStudyProject Objectives

  • To increase the airport freight capacity by constructing a new state of the art airport.

  • To establish Denver city as an air transport hub and a leader in the air transport in general.

Case Study Objectives

  • To obtain the necessary information required for the assessment of the failure of .

  • To recommend on the strategic plans and measures for projects’ success and avoiding projects’ failure.


Inthis project, I focused on the DenverInternational Airport Baggage Handling System- an illustration ofineffectual decision making.Originally,this project came about in an attempt to position Denver city as atransport hub and a focal point in the air transport package. Theairport was to be constructed on an area covering 140km2.It would be the largest in the United States with a capacity tohandle more than fifty million passengers per annum. Upon completionthe airport would include the following features 88 airport gates in3 concourse, 17 miles of tracks plus 3 miles of conveyor belt, 500electric motors, 14 million feet of wiring, 3100 standard carts and450 oversized carts, a network including more than 100 PC’s tocontrol the flow of carts, 27- photo cells, radio receiver, and 59laser arrays (Cal &amp Schloh, Feb 16- 1996). Truly this wasdestined to be a state of the art airport. But with all the ambitionsin the plan and objectives statement, all did not come to be(Kerzner,n.d.).

Discussion and Project Summary

Feasibilityof the project is solely the only important aspect that managementought to use in making any investment decision. Construction ofDenver airport commenced in 1989. In 1990, with the aid of BreederNeidle Patrone Associate, a feasibility study and analysis ofbuilding an integrated baggage system was undertaken. The company hadto issue a professional audit report concerning the matter.Unfortunately, the report advised that the project was not feasiblebecause the system was deemed very complex. The rationale decisionthat management had to take was to abandon the project or revise theproject specifications to suit its intended purpose. However, thecity of Denver management decided to proceed with the implementationdespite the advice suggesting the contrary. Failure of a projectstart at the planning stage and wrong decisions run all the way andaffect the performance of the whole project. I can suggest that theauthority of Denver failed in its responsibility by taking theadvisory report from the feasibility study lightly. It means puttingthe resources of the people of the city at a higher risk given thecomplexity had already been confirmed following the feasibilitystudy. As an organization, it is important to consider the advice ofthese independent advisory bodies to increase the quality ofdecisions made (Nicholasand Nicholas, 2004).

In19991, the airport project management team advertised for bid for theconstruction of the baggage handling solution. 16 companies submittedtheir bids for consideration, but only three were considered in thefinal procurement process. The three would later be rejectedfollowing a subsequent review of the bids that suggested that nonecould be able to deliver the system before the October 1993 deadline.The airport project team approached BAE directly requesting a bid forthe constructing of the system. A contract was finalized in threeintense sittings detailing the engagement in constructing all thethree concourses, airlines, and the baggage integrated system. Thesystem was supposed to handle all the flight, airlines and luggagefor departure and arrival at the same moment this is where thecomplexity of the project arises. The contact was finalized in 1992which means that it was already behind schedule and the hastenedcontract could omit some important aspect of the project. This ispanic on the projects team because it was behind schedule in itsimplementation. It is possible that the project failed to secure acheaper and more effective contractor than BAE due to its hastenedprocess to procure one. However, it is learned that delaying theproject implementation was one of the factors that contributed to thefailure of the project (Remenyi,1999).

Theinitial plan had intended to open the airport on 1993 October 31st.Nevertheless, delay in the procurement process for a contractorshifted that date more than two times. First the date was changed toDecember 19th1993and later to may 15th1994. To make matters worse, the project management team had put theplans in the media of the proposed state of the art airport atDenver. Customers were expecting the same and shifted the target dateof completion would be detrimental. Besides, the shifting of dateswould draw curiosity on the realistic nature of the project. Manychanges were suggested by the united airline, a key ally in theproject, which subsequently altered the initial plan. Changing theproject nature would shift the critical path for the project or evenmake it longer in some cases. The changes were regarding extendingthe baggage area for the oversized carts and the system to transportluggage across airlines. The altering plan has negative effects aswell. A project that is completed out of schedule can affect itsperformance even if it is done to completion. Customers may havelittle faith in the performance of the whole system. Projectmanagement team should set realistic dates and declare theappropriate margin for errors in accounting for the expected date ofcompletion. Declaring the latest date of completion and the earlieststart time can help project managers have a proper time managementand evolution (Williams,2011).

Project Analysis &ampCritical Assessment

Writinga project for strategic planning is a very critical role thatincludes the use of due diligent and outstanding decisions. The mainreason for preparing a project is to provide a guideline forimplementations and evaluation of a project. Specific decisions haveto be clearly stated with the strategy to accomplish those goalsdetailed. The responsibility of each participant in the project oughtto be stated to avoid confusions and hasten the process of projectimplementation. Management of a project and its success, thereto,highly depend on the quality of the project planning stages failureto which a project is doomed to fail. However, many a projects havebeen cited as failures. Why or what can lead a project to be termedas a failure? All projects are never a success, and it is importantto understand the qualities that qualify a project to be termed as asuccess or even a failure. The project under the case study, forinstance, has been concluded to be a failure. What made it bedeclared so? How could have things being done differently to see itas a success? What are the general characteristics that a projectshould possess to be referred a success. The essay would be seekingto answer these questions and project management incidences (Chen,2015).

TheDenver airport project management team failed to plan clearly for theclean electricity source, hence, continued power outages. Thefrequent outages affect the system testing and development yet itrequires installation of the filter into chemical reactors.Procurement of and final delivery, installation of the filter hadtaken more time before it was done. The completion date was shiftedto 9thMay 1994 and after that to an undefined date. Airport authorityplanned demonstration through the media was an ill-advised decisionbecause it brought the bad image of the airport as clothes weredisgorged with crushed bags. No party accepts that there is a problemwith the system as BAE claimed that the system was efficient, and itis the limited knowledge of use by the staff that was bringing theanomaly. The system, however, continues to fail and the airportmanagement resort to building a mechanical manual tug as opposed tothe initial plans of an electric in nature. The proposed system was afailure as from the begging. This is a result of poor decision makingby the management (Williams,2011).

Timeis critical especially for a state of art capital expenditureincluding millions of resources committed. The team was supposed touse due diligence and avoid haste decisions that came to affect theperformance of the project in general. The competitive advantage thecity of Denver aimed at positioning itself in terms of air transport,in fact, turned out to be a source of lost business. Denver projectmanagement team had a very good plan at its initial stage of placingthe city as the air transport hub in the United States of America.Despite the good intentions, some hiccups came into play and were notaddressed appropriately making it impossible for the project to meetits targets. Feasibility study proved the project was not feasiblewhile delays in the procurement and ordering places were some of theproblems. Management failure to closely work with contractor set thetwo at war, and none was ready to accept his fault. Al in all, theDenver airport construction was a failure, and another project shoulduse it as n example and learn from it (Young,Brady and Nagle, 2009).

Recommendations &ampConclusions

Aproject should have general and specific objectives, goals and adefinite directives upon which it justifies an organization to commitits resources. A successful project depends on the initial planningby the management. To achieve quality plans and make betterdecisions, the management team is supposed to have a vast knowledgeof the problem or the issue at hand. Data collection and a thoroughstudy of the phenomenon should precede decision-making. The decisionmade should be regarding the projects viability. Viability can becategorized into four broad categories namely technical, financial,legal and social viability through a comprehensive feasibility study.The findings of the study should prove that his project is viable inall these aspect before it is given a green light. Negligence ofthese factors can lead to a failed project. The projects plan shouldalso be all-inclusive, and this means decentralized decision-makingshould be encouraged. Decentralizing decision-making increases, thequality of the project and at the same time reduces its negativereception. Drawing a plan is good but the ultimate success or failureof the project would be realized during implementation. It alldepends on the implementers discipline as far as the intended goalsare concerned. Planning is the first and an important part of projectsuccess. Planning also legitimizes a course and makes it easier forproject implementation (Kendrick,2009).

Identificationof critical processes during implementation reduces delays.


Cal.P and M. Schloh (Feb 16, 1996). TheDenver International Airport automated baggage handling system

Chen,H. (2015). Performance measurement and the prediction of capitalproject failure. InternationalJournal of Project Management,33(6), pp.1393-1404.

Kendrick,T. (2009). Identifyingand managing project risk.New York: AMACON.

Kerzner,H. (n.d.). Projectrecovery.

Nicholas,J. and Nicholas, J. (2004). Projectmanagement for business and engineering.Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Remenyi,D. (1999). StopIT project failure through risk management.Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.

Williams,T. (2011). Rescuethe problem project.New York: American Management Association.

Williams,T. (2011). Rescuethe problem project.New York: American Management Association.

Young,R., Brady, S. and Nagle, D. (2009). Howto save a failing project.Vienna, VA: Management concepts.