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Honeywell Aerospace Tags Parts for Airbus

The company is writing to high-memory tags on two parts destined for Airbus from three of its manufacturing facilities, with plans to tag additional components by the end of the year.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 15, 2013Honeywell Aerospace has started applying high-memory RFID labels to two of the parts it manufactures for the aerospace industry, with the goal of enabling the part's record to be tracked directly on the tag from birth through use by airlines, and repair by Honeywell. Thus far, three Honeywell facilities are capable of attaching EPC Gen 2 passive UHF tags with Tego high-memory RFID chips. To accomplish this, the factories are employing handheld and desktops readers and also using TegoView software to enable reading and writing of tags, as well as to store a library of Honeywell parts on each reader, used to expedite the writing process. Seattle integrator ID Integration provided the entire solution.

Honeywell Aerospace is a supplier of avionic (electronic) and mechanical parts for the aerospace industry. The Air Transport Association (ATA) Spec 2000 standard dictates that aircraft parts suppliers provide specific information encoded on a tag including a serial number, part number and product manufacturer. Airbus has mandated that its suppliers provide high-memory RFID tags on the parts they purchase that include this data. About one year ago, Honeywell began working with ID Integration and Tego to develop a solution for tagging its parts, says Tego's president and CEO, Timothy Butler.

This month, the three facilities began tagging two of the parts that they manufacture. The factories are applying RFID tags, made Tego's 8-kilobyte memory TegoChip XL chip, to radar antennas and avionic bay units that are shipped to Airbus for use on its A350 XWB wide-body aircraft (see A Flurry of High-Memory Tags Take Flight). "We're tagging in accordance with [Airbus's] requirements and ATA SPEC 2000," says Jim Evans, the company's ISC UID/RFID program manager. "As parts flow through the supply chain, Airbus can scan the parts."

When the tags are attached to a part with an adhesive, Honeywell staff use either a Honeywell 5900 handheld reader, an Intermec CN3 handheld or a ThingMagic USB-powered desktop reader to write the birth record to the tag. This includes the part description, manufacture date, and the part number and a serial number. The handheld readers operate with TegoView Mobile on a Windows operating system, and the ThingMagic reader, connected to a laptop PC via a USB cable, uses a desktop version of the same software, says Gene Anderson, ID Integration's director of product and process development. Honeywell opted to use portable readers that could be connected to a laptop or desktop PC, Evans explains, because many parts are large, heavy, and/or typically don't move much, so staff must come to them.

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