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Airbus Signs Contract for High-Memory RFID Tags
The aircraft maker plans to use the EPC Gen 2 RFID tags—which will have as much as 8 kilobytes of memory—to track thousands of repairable parts for its new A350 XWB planes.
Jan 19, 2010—Airbus has signed a seven-year contract with a supplier of high-memory, passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags. This deal comes as part of the aircraft manufacturer's plan to use radio frequency identification to track thousands of pressurized and non-pressurized parts and components on Airbus' new A350 extra-wide body (XWB) fleet, expected to enter service beginning in 2013.
The 8-kilobyte tags that Airbus will purchase will be used to track flyable aircraft parts and components, as well as store data, such as information regarding a part's initial construction and maintenance. In total, Airbus plans to tag approximately 3,000 parts per plane. Roughly half of these—or 1,500 parts—will require high-memory tags on which such data can be stored.
The high-memory tags, to be placed primarily on repairable parts, will enable Airbus, aircraft owners and aircraft repair companies to improve their processes, such as maintenance and warehouse logistics.
In mid-2009, Airbus provided RFID requirements to its suppliers of repairable parts, but it was unclear which company the manufacturer would select as its primary tag supplier (see Airbus Issues RFID Requirements, Expands RFID Usage). Last Tuesday, MAINtag, a French provider of RFID solutions, and Tego, a Massachusetts-based chipmaker, announced that they were chosen to supply the tags.
"The Airbus story is only the beginning for high-memory, passive RFID tags," says Holger Kisker, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, in Germany. "Smart solutions with intelligent tags will find their way quickly into many industries in asset management and other business areas."
MAINtag and Tego teamed up in summer 2009 to bid for the chance to provide Airbus and its suppliers with high-memory RFID tags for flyable parts. MAINtag is designing and manufacturing the tag, while Tego is providing the tag's high-memory RFID chip. The two partners also have a marketing agreement, under which Tego helps MAINtag bid on business in the United States, and MAINtag, in return, assists Tego in bidding on business in France.
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