Dual View and Density
U.K. legislation will be phased-in for freight-handling companies
- By John Leach
- Oct 01, 2014
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
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
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
“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
“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
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.