An objective view on security screening

There is no singular security screening method that ensures 100% of all threats and contraband will be intercepted at checkpoints.  Human error, incorrect operation, and mechanical malfunction will never be completely removed from the security screening process.  Therefore, security operations that rely solely on one screening method to automatically detect threats are not as effective as operations that utilize multiple complementary screening methods.  This is because different security screening methods and technologies used in tandem create layers of protection against failure, a concept commonly referred to as a layered approach to security.

New security equipment providers periodically appear in the industry, all trying to move towards a fully automated, unmanned checkpoint that requires minimal, if any, divestment. Smiths Detection’s philosophy toward security screening has always been that a layered approach is necessary to ensure maximum effectiveness. The use of multiple, orthogonal sensing technologies such as x-ray inspection for screening bags and personal belongings, in addition to a body scanner for screening persons.  Additionally a range of other technologies such as trace detection, cameras, access control measures, and biometric readers can add additional layers of screening.

Metal detection technology has evolved to be a cost-effective and trusted method of intercepting weapons carried on the person. Body screening is constantly developing new capabilities with broader threat detection profiles and better discrimination to lower false alarms.


X-ray based detection relies on the density and atomic composition as well as the actual physical shape and construction of a weapon to produce a detection event, rather than a simple material signature. This removes the inherent confusion from multiple metallic objects in the same bag, as well as finds small or non-metallic weapons and other contraband that could otherwise avoid detection.

An X-ray inspection system yields an image on a screen, which is an unambiguous result. This result is something far more difficult to deliver using only magnetic signatures. Screening personal baggage and belongings separately greatly reduces false alarms and increases the probability of detection. The human operator, enhanced by advanced image-recognition AI software, can easily and effectively recognize the unambiguous shape of a firearm or other threat item, even at strange viewing angles, or when disassembled into components (slides, handles, magazines, and bullets).

When looking for contraband, concealed weapons, and prohibited items, remember: seeing is believing. Smiths Detection X-ray images produce clear, easy-to-interpret results and our operator assistance functions and AI image recognition software make the job even easier.

When viewing an X-ray image of a weapon, there is no doubt: seeing is believing.   Download PDF File