Jon Andresen, President of Technology Solutions LLC, will be looking at what other opportunities exist for RFID in the cabin at the upcoming Aircraft Cabin Maintenance Conference. He gives us a bit more insight into the session, Scanning the Horizon.
In the cabin maintenance arena, safety and compliance checks have always been a frustrating and time-consuming activity. Are all the required items in place and have any expired? This can vary from the daily checks for life vests under seats, to the 18- to 24-month expiration date check of oxygen generators. It was these time consuming activities – plus the mistakes and ‘surprises’ of finding you needed an entire shipset of some item fast, or you’d have a very expensive asset sitting idle on the ground – that caused airlines to look for a better way to do business.
In parallel with the rising frustration levels due to costs and time, there was a solution that was being developed to solve that problem using RFID technology. Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology is like barcodes, except you don’t need to see the label. Using radio waves that go through, in, and around barriers to find the RFID tags, this technology has revolutionised some very mundane tasks in the cabin. Using this Transparent Data Collection® process, presence checks can be accomplished 100 times faster than current methods, and date checks on life limited parts can be accomplished about 1,000 times faster.
The practical side of this is that RFID tags can be associated with every life limited part on the aircraft – vests, O2 generators, portable oxygen bottles, medical kits, flashlights, megaphones, seat covers, and so on – and the presence and expiration date of each item can be known in a 30-second walk from the cockpit to rear galley. This is so effective that Delta Airlines is tagging about 950 items on every one of their Boeing 777 aircraft and rolling out similar processes to all their other fleets.
The direct time savings is only one measure of success. With this detailed data available, maintenance planning can know before the plane arrives exactly how many emergency equipment items will need to be replaced on that aircraft – no more surprises! And your purchase planning activities can know, across the entire fleet, how many life vests will need to be purchased in October 2015 and therefore negotiate better prices.
Safety and compliance issues were just the low hanging fruit to pick first. In my session I will also talk about galley carts and equipment, duty-free, IFE equipment, placards and so many other things where opens up many more possibilities.