Experience Pays Off in Fourth Baggage Inspection System Project at Fort Lauderdale International Airport 

GRAEF served as Prime Consultant, Structural & Mechanical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection Engineer on the project. 

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When the Broward County Aviation Department rolled up its collective sleeves to replace the checked baggage inspection system in Terminal 4 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), the team had a wealth of experience on its side. The department had replaced similar systems in FLL’s three other terminals over the past decade.

In addition, Whiting-Turner won the design-build contract through the Broward County solicitation procurement process, and it previously completed new baggage systems in terminals 1 and 3. As such, it brought a lot of institutional knowledge that would be beneficial to the design and building of the new baggage system at Terminal 4.

In effect, the band was back together. And the players tapped into their shared history of what worked (and didn’t) during the past projects to keep the $38.2 million Terminal 4 project on budget and on time. Construction began in April 2019, and the new system came online in January 2021.

“Having a contractor that has already been through it was a big benefit to us from a project standpoint,” says Curtis Celestine, expansion project administrator for the Broward County Aviation Department. “The working relationship is a big part of it.”

Before construction of the new baggage system began, the project team used a 3-D scan of the existing facility to help identify potential utility conflicts. Scott Hinrichs, vice president/principal at GRAEF, notes that this was a strategy the engineering, planning and design firm carried over from its work on the Terminal 3 project.

“We learned a lot of lessons in terms of being able to anticipate utility conflicts and be prepared with solutions as opposed to just letting them happen,” Hinrichs explains. “We were able to merge the scan into our 3-D building information model so we could run clash-detection programs to find interferences between proposed conveyors and utilities with existing infrastructure and utilities,” he explains.

Mark Gale, chief executive officer/director of aviation for Broward County Aviation Department, draws a straight line between the system improvements and passenger service.

“The baggage handling and screening equipment upgrades we’re making at FLL improve operational efficiencies for our airline partners, such as increasing the speed and ease of bag processing and adding advanced security layers. These enhancements, in turn, provide customer service benefits in the long run,” Gale explains. “Our overall goal with ongoing terminal modernization efforts is to provide the best possible airport experience for passengers traveling through FLL.”

Journalist: Paul Nolan, Airport Improvement Magazine