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Learning From Airbus

Health-care providers and companies in other industries can learn from the holistic approach the aircraft manufacturer is taking.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 18, 2010Last week, we held our sixth RFID in Health Care conference, in Philadelphia, Pa. It was a great event, attended by dozens of hospitals, and the more than 100 attendees were fully engaged and asking questions. At the end of the conference, I was asked, "Is there anything health-care providers can learn from companies in other industries that are deploying RFID?"

Great question. I said yes, health-care companies can learn from Airbus. In fact, all businesses can learn from Airbus, regardless of the industry they are in. Let me explain why.

Airbus has taken a holistic view of radio frequency identification. The company sees the technology as a tool that provides the visibility required to measure manufacturing, supply chain and in-flight operations. The firm is deploying both a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) system and an active ultra-wideband (UWB) system to provide visibility into the locations of a wide range of objects, such as containers, parts, tools, vehicles and more.

The goal, according to Carlo K. Nizam, Airbus' head of value-chain visibility, is to create "fly-by-wire" operations. Airplanes were once operated by levers and pulleys. Airbus pioneered the concept of controlling rudders and ailerons with electrical impulses, which was dubbed "fly by wire." Nizam uses the same analogy for running manufacturing, supply chain and other operations. RFID will provide visibility to allow the "pilots" of these systems to know exactly what's happening within Airbus' operations, and to then respond accordingly.

Paul-Antoine Calandreau, Airbus' flyable RFID project leader, will speak at RFID Journal LIVE! Europe 2010, being held on Nov. 2-4, in Darmstadt, Germany. There, he will describe the next stage of the airplane manufacturer's ambitious plans. But hospitals and other companies can learn what Airbus has already done. Many facilities seek to use, or are already using, real-time location systems (RTLS) simply to track assets. However, the technology can be used as infrastructure to do more.


Bret Kinsella 2010-10-21 06:00:37 PM
Airbus Provides a Framework for Success Mark makes a great point about Airbus and its holistic approach to RFID adoption. What others may not know is that each successive Airbus RFID implementation generates higher ROI because it all leverages a common platform. This allows Airbus to leverage greater value from its initial investment and also reduce its ongoing support and operation cost. The approach takes organizational vision and discipline, but Airbus is a great example of how to maximize your ROI from RFID.

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