Improved the check-in process by reducing wait times
Reduced ripple effect of disruptions that could affect passengers
Assisted communication among staff by giving a visualization of processes
Simulation, where real life events are mirrored using computer software is something that airports have been familiar with for decades.
These systems have traditionally put in place to ensure aircrafts are safely navigated, to spot potential problems and determine the most efficient flight paths.
Gatwick has utilized SIMUL8 simulation software to apply this same approach to also manage and improve passenger services.
SIMUL8 has been used to take into account historical data, passenger behaviors and service capacity in order to accurately replicate the performance of airport facilities across different scenarios, such as the impact of increased seasonal throughput, flight delays, new terminal layouts and contingency planning.
Through this approach, Gatwick's six sigma team improved the check-in process, queue times and airline efficiency without the need for increased investment.
"Using simulation has reduced the ripple effect of disruptions that could possibly affect passengers in other areas of the airport. We understand that all areas of the airport connect, and it’s important to manage the flow of activities."
Mike Goacher, Gatwick Airport
London Gatwick operates the world’s most efficient single runway and is the second largest airport in the UK, with 53 airlines taking 44 million passengers to 228 destinations in 74 countries around the world every year.
With large volumes of customers and passengers, the airport faces particular challenges when improving processes:
With the air travel industry being affected by a huge range of factors like increased security measures and busier flight schedules, it can be very difficult for airports to please everyone.
Every part of the customer experience is connected. For example, making changes to security lanes could affect the amount of time passengers spend in the lounge. As such, every area has to be considered when trying to improve the passenger experience.
Using SIMUL8 has changed how Gatwick work by offering an increased flexibility of testing scenarios within a safe, risk-free environment before implementing changes in real life.
By using SIMUL8, Gatwick gained significant and meaningful results with simulations of the check-in process and lounge areas, including real flight schedules and airline information. The ease of use and accessibility of SIMUL8 ensured Gatwick utilized all capabilities, helped minimize queue times while maximizing throughput and ensuring a better customer experience.
At any airport no two days are ever the same, passenger numbers fluctuate, flights can be delayed and many other influences such as seasonal variation will come into play. If the team want to test multiple check-ins with multiple different airlines – each with its own imported passenger profile – they have the flexibility to do this with SIMUL8.
Simulation is a great tool for assisting communication among staff, providing a common visualization of newly implemented processes. For example, if SIMUL8 has shown that only a certain number of security personnel are needed at a given time, this can be communicated to head of security to help implement changes and reduce wait times for passengers.
Gatwick simulates layouts and passenger flows to prevent disruption to customer services. If passenger numbers increase, or if new timely security measures are introduced, testing these types of scenarios and communicating solutions in a highly visual and interactive manner helps Gatwick to avoid critical failures.
Using SIMUL8 has enabled Gatwick to be able to advise airlines on how to make operations more efficient without increased investments.
For example, Gatwick’s redeveloped security area in the south terminal has 19 lanes allowing passengers to be processed quickly by simply scanning their ticket. Using SIMUL8 along with new security technology has changed factors such as wait times and staff numbers, helping to determine how many staff members are needed at any given time.