Denver Airport Baggage Handling System Case Study
Dysfunctional decision making is the poison that kills technology projects and the Denver Airport Baggage System project in the 1990’s is a classic example. Although several case studies have been written about the Denver project, the following paper re-examines the case by looking at the key decisions that set the project on the path to disaster and the forces behind those decisions.
What was to be the world’s largest automated airport baggage handling system, became a classic story in how technology projects can go wrong. Faced with the need for greater airport capacity, the city of Denver elected to construct a new state of the art airport that would cement
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Solution requires installation of industrial filters into the electrical system. Ordering and installation of the filters takes several months Airport authorities arrange a demonstration for the system for the media (without first informing BAE). Demonstration is a disaster as clothes are disgorged from crushed bags Denver Mayor cancels 15 May target date and announces an indefinite delay in opening Logplan Consulting engaged to evaluate the project Fourth target for opening BAE Systems denies system is malfunctioning. Instead they say many of the issues reported to date had been caused by the airport staff using the system incorrectly System testing continues to flounder. Scope of work is radically trimmed back and based on Logplan’s recommendation airport builds a manual tug and trolley system instead City of Denver starts fining BAE $12K per day for further delays Actual opening In order to save costs the system is scrapped in favour of a fully manual system. Maintenance costs were running at $1M per month at the time.
Sep 1992 Oct 1992 Jan 1993 Feb 1993 Sep 1993 31 Oct 1993 19 Dec 1993 Jan 1994 9 Mar 1994 Mar 1994
Apr 1994 Apr 1994 May 1994 15 May 1994 May 1994 Aug 1994 Aug 1994 28 Feb 1995 Aug 2005
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Denver Airport Baggage Handling System