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RFID Worker Management Lands at Helsinki Airport

IBM, Nokia, and Finnair have teamed up to deploy an innovative RFID-based worker efficiency system at the Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. Announced yesterday, the solution dramatically streamlines the administration and allocation of ground worker tasks.
Jun 13, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 13, 2006—IBM, Nokia, and Finnair have teamed up to deploy an innovative RFID-based worker efficiency system at the Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. Announced yesterday, the solution dramatically streamlines the administration and allocation of ground worker tasks.

Coordinating the magnitude of ground workers is a crucial and challenging task for major airports. Adding to the complexity, many workers are often outdoors or in otherwise remote areas of the airport. Upon finishing a given task, they need a way to be assigned their next task. At the Helsinki airport, workers historically received that next assignment by placing a phone call, entering a pin number, and navigating through a voice menu.

The IBM/Nokia solution changes all that. Now those same workers will be assigned tasks via their RFID reader-equipped Nokia 5140i phones, which trigger a data exchange with the central work management system by scanning RFID tags installed at key work locations around the airport. Tasks are simply displayed on the phone screen, and the workers are spared from the laborious phone calls of the past. The end result is more automated and informed task allocation processes which can react in real-time to the vagaries of plane schedules.

Jari Viitanen, vice president of business development for Northport, the Finnair subsidiary that provides ground-handling services, commented, "Assigning personnel to all the tasks taking place at any given moment is a true challenge. The better information we have on all tasks, the better we can manage our workforce. Especially tough are the last-minute changes of arrival schedules, which in turn result in changes in the allocation of tasks. The management needs data when and where staff is available. RFID provides us with this."

The technology is part of the Nokia Field Force Solution, which includes the phones, RFID tags, and management software. The offering was announced in late 2004 and represents Nokia's most focused play in RFID. It is targeted at any vertical which relies on the use of field personnel, such as security, services, utilities, health care, or government. At Helsinki-Vantaa, the Nokia software connects the phones and tags to an IBM WebSphere server application, which hooks into the airport work management system. Phone location and task status is all delivered upstream and viewable by management.

Read the official announcement
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