X-Ray Security Screening – Technologies, Industry and Global Market – 2014-2020

X-Ray_CoverAgainst the backdrop of doom and gloom predictions by some managers in industry, Homeland Security Research Corporation analysts forecast a strong comeback of the X-ray security industry generating a solid 7% CAGR. The growth will be boosted by three main drivers:

  1. The expansion of the Asia Pacific secured facilities and aviation security markets
  2. The replacement of more than 40,000 outdated X-ray systems
  3. Despite a decade of R&D aiming at new baggage, luggage, cargo and mail screening technologies, there is no modality on the horizon that can competitively challenge the cost-performance of the X-ray based screening technologies.

According to HSRC’s report, “X-ray Security Screening: Technologies and Global Industry & Market – 2014-2020“, the global X-ray security screening industry revenues (including systems sales and aftersales service and upgrades) is forecasted to grow from $1.6 billion in 2013 to $2.6 billion by 2020.

With more than 690 pages, 254 tables and 324 figures, the new report is the most comprehensive review of the multibillion-dollar global X-ray security screening market, industry and technology trends published to date. The report analyzes each and every dollar of the industry revenues and provides data and analysis on 89 submarkets including submarket 2011-2013 data and 2014-2020 forecasts and analyses. The report addresses the “money trail” of each dollar spent via 5 viewpoints:

  • 5 geographical regions
  • 20 countries
  • 3 vertical markets
  • 4 application-technologies
  • System sales and aftersale revenues

The report analyzes the X-ray industry and technologies from several perspectives, including:

  • Current and pipeline technologies, such as single energy X-ray, dual energy X-ray, backscatter X-ray, multi-view X-ray and coherent X-ray
  • Competitive environment: 16 leading X-ray vendor profiles including their products, products description and prices. Companies include American Science and Engineering, Astrophysics Inc., Auto Clear, Eurologix Security, Gilardoni, L3 Communications , LIXI, Morpho Detection, Nuctech , Rapiscan Security Products, SAIC, Scanna Msc., Smiths Detection, Vidisco.
  • 20 countries airports: 1,195 airports with 2,352 million screened passengers (84% of global passengers). For each country, all the airports with over 100,000 annual screened passengers are presented including details on the number of screened passengers and the annual growth rate
  • Market & industry analysis: e.g., market drivers & inhibitors, X-ray security industry SWOT analysis
  • Business environment: e.g., competitive analysis.

Each new report from Homeland Security Research Corporation features more and more detailed analyses on this market. Of particular interest is the ‘country analysis’ which demonstrates just how refined this market is developing. All of this comes at a hefty price tag – starting at US$ 4,450 for a single user PDF!

Dynamic X-Ray imaging – detecting objects or living creatures

The conventional image (left) and the dynamic image (right) of a pack of rice containing mealworm larvae

The conventional image (left) and the dynamic image (right) of a pack of rice containing mealworm larvae

X-ray inspection systems are a standard feature in many ports. These X-ray systems have the unique ability to non-destructively image the contents of entire cargo containers in just a few seconds. It is a difficult task, however, to identify what is in the container based on the obtained X-ray images. The superposition of two images with different contrasts – like in dual-energy X-ray imaging – can enhance the effectiveness of the detection. A novel X-ray imaging technology now introduces an entirely new type of contrast based on movement. This technology can be combined with existing single-energy and dual-energy X-ray imaging methods, opening new possibilities in port security applications.

One important application of the dynamic imaging technology could be finding stowaway pests in the cargo. Stowaway pests travel hidden within transported goods and may damage the cargo while being shipped. In addition to this, potentially invasive species often travel as stowaway pests and arrive to new territories unnoticed. Although better part of these exotics are harmless, approximately 20 to 30 percent of the introduced species are pests and cause major environmental and economic problems. Read the full article here! Source: Porttechnology.com

Advanced security imaging technology

DebTech is the technology business unit of De Beers, one of the top ranking diamond mining companies in the world. DebTech specialises in the development, manufacture, supply and worldwide support of innovative products and services for applications in diamond exploration, sorting and security.

The Scannex full body, low dose, X-ray scanning system was developed during the early 1990s for the primary purpose of deterring the theft of diamonds by diamond mine employees. The Scannex unit has application in many areas where contraband detection is required, such as airports, international sports events, prisons, border control and other high security installations.

The system produces high resolution and high contrast full body X-ray images of personnel. A single scan takes approximately ten seconds and the person being scanned remains stationary and is protected from the moving parts of the machine. The X-ray level required per scan is equivalent to that experienced on a two hour international flight. This allows an individual to be scanned up to 200 times per year and still not exceed the US Department of Health recommended safe limit for public exposure. The images are displayed on digital monitors and trained image analysts are able to identify items of a nonanatomical nature that may be concealed on or within the body.

To assist in the identification of foreign objects, human anatomical features are de-emphasized in the displayed images. This has the additional advantage of protecting the dignity of the individual being scanned. The display software comes standard with several image enhancement functions to further assist identification of suspect items. The display system is designed such that the viewing monitors can be located remotely from the scanning booth. This not only contributes to the protection of the scanned subject’s privacy but also decreases the opportunity for collusion between the scanned subject,the scanner operator and the image analyst. Up to four monitors may be connected to a single scanner to increase the rate of people being scanned. At the De Beers Namibian operations up to 90 scans per hour have been regularly achieved through one unit.

The Scannex system is optimised to differentiate diamond,a material with relatively low X-ray absorption properties, from human anatomical features. This also enables the system to indicate the presence of other materials with similar low X-ray absorption properties, such as explosives, drugs, plastic fluid containers and syringes. Metallic items, including knives, guns and detonator wire are very prominent in the full body images by virtue of their significantly higher X-ray absorption properties.

For counter terror and border control applications that do not require the high performance characteristics of the original Scannex unit, DebTech is currently developing a smaller footprintand lower capital cost addition to the Scannex range. This is planned to be available late 2012. For the full report click here! Sources: Port Technology International and debtech.com

Making X-ray scanning safer

Given recent public outcry regarding airport passenger scanning, I found this scientific report which provides very sensible recommendations in regard to X-ray scanning of vehicle borne commercial cargoes. A recent study commissioned by Economic Commission for Europe provides some key recommendations to ensure improved safety of scanner operators and vehicle drivers. The protection of drivers against sickness and injury arising from their work activities is an important matter, and how to manage the hazards and risks associated with transport activities which are unavoidably connected to the possible exposure of employees to ionising radiation whilst undergoing the cargo/vehicle scanning process was a key question of the study.

Ensuring maximum safety precautions, all stakeholders have a role in enhancing the radiation protection culture within the road transport sector. As it is clear that drivers included in this study are not regarded as occupationally exposed to ionising radiation, the study recommends the following to Customs and Border agencies:

  • Install appropriate information panels, which include pictograms, highlighting that x-ray scanning is being performed and giving clear indications on what the driver should do to avoid unnecessary exposure;
  • At concerned border crossings, make available multi-lingual information leaflets, including pictograms, which describe the x-ray process, risks and safety information;
  • Develop and introduce a mutually recognised x-ray scanning certificate to prevent repeated scanning and thus facilitating and accelerating the control process;
  • Ensure, with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Commission (EC), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO), the correct implementation of internationally accepted x-ray scanning procedures;
  • Ensure that customs officers and x-ray equipment operators are properly trained on the functioning and risks of x-ray scanning machines enabling them to operate the equipment safely and give adequate safety instructions to drivers; and
  • In cooperation with x-ray machine manufactures, to ensure that x-ray equipment is properly maintained.

Source: UNECE – Scientific Study on External Ionising Radiation Exposure during Cargo / Vehicle Radiographic Inspections