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KLM Maintenance Cuts Parts' Packaging Costs With RFID

Working with packaging supplier Nefab, the MRO provider is tracking cases and boxes used to transport airplane parts to and from customers, lowering packaging costs by 50 percent.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 18, 2015

Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) is the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) arm of Air France KLM, one of the top five airlines in the world. The MRO unit supports 1,500 airplanes operated by 150 airline customers, and its 300 facilities worldwide remove parts from those planes, repair or refurbish them, or provide scheduled maintenance. Tracking all of these parts posed a logistical challenge, but the company has deployed a radio frequency identification system to automate the process and cut costs.

Many parts must be shipped in special packaging typically consisting of durable boxes or cases lined with cushioning material. Tracking the packaging would enable KLM not only to monitor the parts within, but also to track packaging that was becoming lost, taking up necessary space in facilities and requiring too much time for workers to find when needed so that a part could be shipped to a customer.

KLM E&M ships many parts in special packaging typically consisting of durable boxes or cases lined with cushioning material.
To address the problem, KLM worked with Nefab, a Sweden-based multinational packaging company, to develop a Web-based solution known as Aviation Packaging Information System (APIS) for managing the inbound and outbound flow of packaging between Nefab and KLM E&M. The solution uses fixed RFID readers in buildings and in trucks, as well as Nordic ID Morphic mobile ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID handhelds—compliant with the ISO 18000-6C/EPC Gen 2 standard—for use in areas where no fixed reader has been installed, or as a backup if the fixed reader system goes down temporarily.

Fixed EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID readers from Intellifi were set up at the Nefab facility to capture data about packaging that the company ships to KLM. When Nefab ships packaging to KLM, which usually occurs twice weekly, RFID readers capture the serial numbers encoded to the tags and automatically send KLM an advance shipping notice containing information indicating which items will be delivered.

Intellifi fixed readers have been installed at various locations throughout KLM E&M's facilities.
Several different models of Intellifi fixed readers were also set up in KLM's engineering department, logistics center, warehouse and shop, where maintenance is performed. Omni-ID Power 50 battery-assisted passive (BAP) tags are used on parts packaging to ensure 100 percent read rates. When a package arrives, an Intellifi reader automatically captures its tag ID and updates the APIS software, which was developed by Dutch company ScoreTrace in association with Nefab and KLM.

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