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RFID Helps Milano Malpensa Airport to Complete Maintenance Work On Time

To make its repair and cleaning operations more efficient, the airport installed 50,000 tags to equipment and other objects, and issued RFID-enabled phones to all its maintenance workers.
By Claire Swedberg

According to Vittorio Ricci, RFID360's CEO, his firm has been offering RFID-based solutions for approximately five years, initially in the health-care market, allowing workers to log into the system and identify the steps they complete while caring for patients within their homes. About two years ago, he says, the airport approached the company seeking the NFC solution to track maintenance activities.

The solution consists of a variety of NFC RFID tags provided by RFID360, Ricci says, of many sizes and form factors, to be affixed to variously sized objects. RFID360 designed all of the tags and employed a third-party manufacturer in China to manufacture them. RFID360's software is stored on the airport's server, where it manages all read data, while also storing details linked to each tag such, indicating the type of equipment to which it is attached, as well as its maintenance record and requirements. In some cases, the software also issues alerts to management when expected work is not completed, based on the preset requirements for a particular item.

RFID360's Vittorio Ricci

If a staff member encounters a piece of equipment that is not functioning properly, such as a bathroom faucet or a light, that worker taps his or her mobile phone against a tag associated with that item. The phone, which has an RFID360 application loaded on it, captures the tag's ID number and forwards that information to the software residing on the airport's server. That software then identifies the item and creates a service request.

The airport's management staff views the software and routes the request to the appropriate service provider—a process that typically takes less than a minute to complete. By contrast, airports lacking the system typically must rely on workers to fill out a written repair or maintenance request and submit it to their managers at the end of their shift. The managers, in turn, then forward the request to airport management, which can take up to 24 hours.

Upon arriving to repair an item, a worker taps his or her phone against the tag and follows steps on a drop-down menu to indicate the work being performed. Another tap of the tag, once the employee is finished, typically signifies that the problem has been resolved.

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