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.
Tego modified the software, says Evans, to enable a fast commissioning process with each tag. When Honeywell workers apply tags to a batch of parts of the same model, they first locate that part in a drop-down list stored on the software. Once that part is selected from the list, the system automatically encodes the part description and number on every tag, requiring that staff to input only the serial number and manufacture date for that specific part. The software is designed to restrict the user from encoding anything but the serial number and manufacture date on the tag as well as the data related to the item selected in the software. This function, which "basically acts as a template for writing to new tags," Evans says, saves staff time and is expected to increase efficiency and data accuracy.
That data is then stored on the tag and follows the part to Airbus, as well as to an airline that uses the Airbus aircraft. Both Airbus and the airline could also write to the tag to indicate a part's servicing and movement record.
If a part is ever sent back to Honeywell for repair work, that action could be written to the tag. In the future, says Evans, Honeywell may use the tag for its own purposes by supplying repair staff with handheld readers, and enabling them to read the tag to determine the age and other details about the part, in order to better plan the repair service. Honeywell's technicians could also encode the tag with a description of what repair work was done.
Evans says he's happy with the system thus far and expects Honeywell to begin tagging more types of parts soon. He still finds some shortcomings in the technology. For one thing, Evans says, there are only a few available form factors among the high-memory tags approved for use in aircraft, and not enough form factors to fit well with the various kinds of parts being tagged. Because of that, he says, the company may have to apply tags that are bigger than they would like to specific parts, simply because there aren't any other options.
In addition to seeking tags of different sizes, Evans hopes that tags will be developed that offer longer read and write ranges. Currently the tags being applied have a limited write range and slightly longer read range via a handheld device. He'd like to see that range lengthen to 2 or more feet, he says, which would make it easier to read a tag in cases where tags are hard to reach with a handheld, such as when a tagged part is installed inside an engine.
Honeywell has 10 OEM facilities at which it hopes to be applying the RFID tags in the coming months. Initially the company is concentrating on tagging avionic equipment rather than mechanical, since mechanical equipment moves and therefore the tagging of such parts will require further testing. That testing, which will be conducted by Honeywell engineers, will determine how well tags stay attached to each moving part as well as whether it continues to operate after a long period of movement. The company's goal is to tag more than 100 different avionic and mechanical parts by the end of the year.
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