Construction began on the Denver International Airport (DIA) in 1989. The airport promised a highly skilled baggage system that automates the process of moving luggage. It was projected to be the most advanced systems of its kind in the world. The underground, computer-driven system would solve many logistics problems within the entire airport. However, when the airport officially opened in 1995, the DIA faced luggage management disaster.
What Went Wrong?
The management team on the project severely underestimated the complexity of developing the baggage system. Despite advice from experts, the project was driven forward and failed to meet schedules, budgets, and system requirements.
Luggage Management Disaster
To understand the final disaster outcome of the DIA baggage project, the numerous failures throughout the project must be explained.
- Failure to Integrate Strategies: By 1991, 3 years after the start of the project, the management team realized no one was building an integration system for the baggage system. Poor communication and mismanagement of the teams led to the integration being started halfway through the project.
- Design Issues: The design of building started before the baggage system so designers had to accommodate quick turns and other features of the buildings structure. This created more complications slowing the project down even more.
- Maintaining the Project Deadline: The complex system was more than management teams had initially predicted. The rising barriers forced engineers to work 16 months after the airport was finished being built to get the baggage system to work.
- Demonstration and Opening Failures: The first system demonstration was a disaster and the airport’s opening dates kept being delayed due to the incomplete baggage system.
The continued delays of the project cost the airport an additional $560 million USD. The project was completed, but only delivered on a fraction of its promises. The system was only capable of supporting baggage on outbound flights in a single concourse. It was initially planned to be capable of connecting 3 concourses. The issues surrounding the system created terrible publicity for the new airport.
Had there been communication between all teams on the baggage systems project, the DIA may have been able to open on time with its fully advanced one of a kind system. Instead, teams were disorganized, failed to meet deadlines and the system created disaster for the DIA.
When beginning a large scale project, ensure effective logistics planning takes place. Talk to experts about system requirements and ensure constant communication between all teams.