Dual View and Density

U.K. legislation will be phased-in for freight-handling companies

Dual view legislation for cargo screening in the United Kingdom will fall into place in January 2015. This has been a phased-in approach to allow freight-handling companies to make the necessary equipment and procedural changes.

Freight handlers currently use single view X-ray equipment to screen their cargo, but, if the freight is larger than 4.26 feet, they must complete two passes of the cargo at different 90 degree angles. Effectively, they must do the work of a dual view screening device manually, a time consuming process for any handler that processes a lot of freight.

The next stage, therefore, will demand that a dual view screening device must be used to screen freight, and will mean that single view can no longer be used for screening objects that are in excess of 4.26 feet.

The Perspective of the European Union (EU)

The rules of compliance for dual view are more stringent in the U.K. For the rest of the EU, the dates for compliance are later, giving EU counterparts until July 2014 to start completing dual view screening by using a single view machine. Further, the rest of the EU hasn’t been given a deadline at all for the mandatory use of dual view machinery. However, as the time and costs associated with using a single view to carry out dual view screening are so large, it is thought that the changeover to dual view machinery will occur naturally.

There have been further concessions for the EU based on the fact that some countries have widely been using smaller tunnel dimensions, making it impossible for them to do the full 90-degree manual double screening. These cases have been allowed the concession of a smaller rotation up until Dec. 31, 2015.

Dual view is important legislation because ultimately, it makes air travel safer. Freight is often carried on passenger flights, and dual view enables freight handlers to see much more of the contents of freight, down to minute detail. Two views of the cargo give the screener a clearer picture of what is inside the freight and enables them to be able to identify hidden threats much more easily.

X-ray Screening Density

The next challenge is to improve the level of density that X-ray screening technology can screen to. Larger or more dense cargo, such as metal liquid containers or metal items like machinery, are difficult to screen adequately via standard X-ray screening because the machines cannot screen to the full depth of the items. This means the costly and time-consuming process of secondary screening is required, and that the item being screened has to be opened up and manually interrogated. Undertaking this process requires permission from the sender and often from the person receiving the item, as well, so there can be a lengthy delay before the secondary screening can even begin. There is software within X-ray screening devices for measuring the dense area recognition capability (DARC) alarm. It has been rumored that the next piece of legislation to come in for the UK, following dual view, will be around DARC alarm as this software is currently being trialed with the purpose of eventually introducing a standard around it. The DARC alarm will automatically advise when a consignment has not been sufficiently penetrated by the X-ray machine. If the machine cannot screen to a high enough density for the particular object, an alarm will alert the screener that a secondary screening is required.

For example, a standard 200kV-powered machine can screen to a depth of around 35mm to 45mm of steel whereas Astrophysics Inc. 320kV-powered devices can typically screen to a depth of about 80mm of steel. Benefits of 320kV-powered Devices Although there are other high-powered X-ray screening devices on the market, the difference with Astrophysics’ models is that in addition to the 320kV of power, these machines provide 7ma of current, compared to the industry standard of 1ma. It is this combination of high power and high current that provides 2,247 watts of total power, enabling clearer imagery to a greater depth.

For example, objects like engines can be seen clearly, compared to lower powered screening devices that otherwise would not provide imagery to the whole depth of the engine. This would mean that when using lower powered X-ray, in order to ensure that the object was safe, secondary manual screening would be required. Secondary screening is time consuming as permissions have to be acquired from the sender of the object before the further screening process can begin.

The First U.K. 320kV Machine installation

Freightnet Handling installed the first 320kV X-ray security screening device in the U.K., enabling efficient detection via screening previously none-detectable threats within large and dense cargo. Previously, such cargo was impenetrable to full depth.

This X-ray security screener was supplied by Totalpost Services Plc and manufactured by Astrophysics Inc. It is one of the only few supplied worldwide at this level of power output for a security screening machine. This 320kV device enables the operator to see more deeply and clearly into a screened object, making it efficient in screening items such as liquid drums and metals.

Typically screened cargo for Freightnet includes: chemical drums, powders, oil field equipment, motorbikes, generator and pumps. Whereas this type of freight screening operation would previously have been delayed because additional screening would have been required, it is now able to accurately screen whole tractors and trailers. Lower penetration screening devices simply cannot handle the density of such items.

“Our priority is passenger safety, and this machine helps us to improve this because our security screening operatives can see so much more using this machine,” said Daz Salmon, an aviation security consultant at Frieghtnet.

“The nearest power output level available commercially in the U.K. market is a 200kV X-ray security screening device. We have historically used this level of machine, but increasingly, we were aware that we needed to invest in a higher powered machine in order to be able to deal with demand for screening high density cargo.

“This machine has enhanced our capacity. On the busiest day we’ve had so far, this machine screened half a million tons of freight in a single day.”

Machine’s Ability Dictates Long-term Contract

Astrophysics Inc.’s 320kV X-ray device is a large-scale machine specifically designed for use in the cargo industry. It has an internal tunnel size of 180 x 180 cm and a low conveyor for easy loading. The length of the machine is the same as a standard bus, and theoretically, three smart cars could fit end- to-end inside the machine, although cars are screened differently. Despite this, the actual footprint of the device is relatively compact making it ideal for freight forwarding applications where space is at a premium.

Because of this, Totalpost was awarded a significant U.K. contract to be the exclusive supplier of X-ray security screening machines to the Home Office/ Border Force late last year. Therefore, Totalpost will supply all required baggage, mail and parcel, and freight pallet X-ray security screening machines for the next four years.

“We are delighted to have been selected to supply X-ray security screening equipment and services to the Border Force,” said David Hymers, the managing director of totalpost. “The equipment we supply is state-of-the-art, and the X-ray team we have is perhaps the most experienced, dedicated and knowledgeable in the market.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Security Today.

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