By Gary McCann, Director, RFID Implementation Services
It’s encouraging to see many industries recognizing the value add and benefits that RFID can bring after experiencing firsthand the evolution of RFID over the past 15 years.
The Airline Industry is no exception to this way of thinking. Over the past few years some of the major players have successfully implemented RFID to improve their daily operations, reduce costs, and improve productivity of airline employees, while providing exceptional customer service within a very competitive landscape.
Two major solution areas have emerged as front runners for airlines giving serious consideration to RFID:
- Baggage Tracking
- Parts and Tools Tracking
RFID Baggage Tracking
In the last few years, baggage tracking has received extensive publicity culminating with the successful deployment of an airline baggage tracking system by one of the world’s leading airline carriers. Other airlines and airports are now considering deploying similar solutions.
Let’s look at Baggage Tracking and why Airlines and IATA (International Air Transport Association) deem this to be a top priority for the Global Airline Industry:
- Industry analysts state that globally, airlines mishandled more than 21 million bags in 2016, costing more than $2 billion.
- It’s been estimated that properly managed bags will save $3 billion by the end of 2022 and reduce handling errors by 25%.
- Customers, as well as some government agencies, are demanding a solution to correct this major problem. In 2018, the Canadian Government passed a passenger “Bill of Rights” which will have airlines compensate passengers for flight cancellations, long wait periods, and lost luggage, up to $2,500 per passenger. Passengers have been paying baggage fees since 2008 and expect that delivery of luggage is almost guaranteed.
- IATA’s resolution 753, which became effective in June 2018, established guidance and mandated airlines to maintain an accurate inventory of baggage and provide visibility at four key points in the baggage journey:
- Passenger handover to airline
- Loading to the aircraft
- Delivery to the transfer area
- Return to the passenger
- In June 2019, IATA adopted a resolution supporting the global use of RFID tracking for checked airline baggage. IATA recommended that airports rapidly incorporate the use of RFID and other technologies into their infrastructure for baggage handling. Also, that airlines adopt the use of RFID inlays in their baggage labels, and that airports, airlines and ground handlers start to implement modern baggage messaging using IATA standards.
Suffice it to say that over the next few years Airlines will be rolling out RFID Baggage Tracking Solutions. The benefits are clear – from reducing global baggage mishandling, increasing efficiency in baggage operations, and delivering a better passenger experience. The longer airlines wait, the more costly it will become as dissatisfied customers move to competing airlines who have a solution in place. Not to mention the ongoing costs of compensating customers for errors until the airlines get with the program.
Airplane Parts and Tools Tracking
The benefit of deploying RFID is that it gets organizations thinking about other applications where the technology can be deployed to effect Business Transformation. Once the investment is made in infrastructure, it can be leveraged in other areas of the business, such as tracking airplane and maintenance parts and tools used in the maintenance of engines and aircraft parts.
Let’s look at some potential uses and the rationale for tracking parts or tools:
- Most airlines require better visibility into their parts inventory and management processes. Improvements are needed when doing annual inventory counts and ongoing cycle counting. With RFID, the process is quicker with greater accuracy and less labor needed than when manually tracking inventory or high-value items with expiration dates on the aircraft.
- RFID results in better data integrity due to greater accuracy and improved productivity of employees. Inaccuracies in inventory lead to erroneous financials by understating or overstating asset values.
- The tools used in maintenance by mechanics are high value assets that can get misplaced or borrowed by other maintenance personnel and not returned to the rightful owner or tool crib. Tagging tools with RFID ensures that tools that are misplaced, borrowed or lost can be found at the end of each shift. Notifications can be sent to management, alerting them when tools have not been returned at the end of a shift.
- With an RFID solution in place, calibrated tools can be checked out by a mechanic and the tool assigned to a specific mechanic’s ID number. RFID will improve and streamline the tool check-out and return processes. When all tools are tagged, assigned users and recalibration dates can be readily tracked.
- Other items which benefit from RFID tracking include emergency equipment such as O2 generators and bottles, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, AED’s, life vests, portable breathing equipment, and other airline safety equipment.
RFID Global’s engineers and consultants have been fortunate enough to participate in and be recognized as leaders in designing and deploying RFID solutions specific to the Airline Industry.
For more information or to schedule a discussion regarding RFID Baggage Tracking and other solutions in the Airline industry, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.