Without doubt, the sudden impact of COVID-19 during the first half of 2020 has forced companies across the world to reassess how they trade, as the world slowly plans to get back to a new standard of normal.
One sector that has seen an enormous hit is aviation, with flights cancelled across the world, almost overnight. This situation has obviously had a knock-on effect for airports, which are now working at very low capacities. As an example, Heathrow Airport passenger traffic for March 2020 was down 52.40%* on the same period last year, even as the lockdown was being implemented part-way through the month. April saw traffic down by 96.96%*
This unprecedented global situation has forced all businesses around the world to resolve social distancing issues moving forward and, for Heathrow Airport, top of the list is for the safety of millions of travellers each month, as well as the staff working in the terminals.
In early April 2020, we were approached by the team at Heathrow Airport to look at safety guard solutions that could be integrated into areas where significant interaction between people takes place, including:
- Bag Search Areas
- Bag Loading
- ID Centre Reception Desk
- ID Booths
- Security Lanes
The safety screens would need to be incredibly robust, with a framework to fit existing desks, clear polycarbonate screening, and some stations would need to allow for document pass-over between staff and passenger.
Due to the flexibility of the MiniTec profile system and ease of the design capability, we managed to create prototypes for the safety screens within two weeks, working with the on-site engineers to design, create CAD drawings and produce initial solutions for testing.
We were also able to be incredibly responsive during difficult circumstances for all parties, supplying six prototypes and delivering over 80 units for installation at the airport during the same month.
As a result, we are proud to have been rewarded with Tier 1 Supplier status for Heathrow Airport and look forward to working more with this fantastic airport in the future as things begin to return slowly to normal.