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Daher Aerospace Expands RFID Usage Throughout Supply Chain

The U.K.-based aerospace manufacturing and logistical services company and its customers are using passive UHF tags and readers to track its containers' location and status.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 19, 2014

U.K.-based aerospace manufacturing and logistical services firm Daher Aerospace is managing its fleet of reusable containers via a radio frequency identification solution provided by Waer Systems Ltd. The system consists of passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags affixed to containers, as well as fixed readers at key portals through which containers pass, and cloud-based software to manage the collected read data.

Daher Aerospace's Supply Chain Reusable (SCR) program consists of 22,000 containers (16,000 of which are in transit at any given time) that aerospace parts makers use to transport engine components to assembly lines. The empty containers are then returned to Daher for maintenance and cleaning before that cycle is repeated.

Daher's Supply Chain Reusable program comprises 22,000 containers that aerospace parts makers use to transport engine components to assembly lines.
To accommodate the various types of engine components, the company offers the containers in a variety of sizes and materials, such as metal, plastic or wood. Engine-component suppliers require a specific set of containers (known as a kit) to fulfill a particular customer's order, and if those containers are unavailable, the manufacturer's operations may be put on hold.

The previous RFID system tracked when each container arrived at and left Daher's container-maintenance site, enabling the company to capture and store data regarding any changes made to a kit. The low-frequency (LF) tags the company had been using were recognized only by Daher's own system, and thus served no purpose to others in the supply chain that lacked the same technology. In addition, says Olivier Innocenti, Daher Aerospace's logistics engineer, the company had been using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to manage the RFID data, making the process too time-consuming.

Daher sought a new solution that could reliably read passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tags attached to containers composed of several different materials (including metal, plastic and wood) via fixed readers as those containers passed through portals. The company also sought a tag that could be more permanently attached to containers than the bar-code and RFID labels it had previously been using. Those labels could not resist washing and pressure vapor processes, and could become covered by a variety of other labels applied by suppliers and customers as the containers transported components. During the cleaning process, Daher removes all the extra labels.

In 2007, Waer Systems provided Daher with its Waerlinx warehouse-management solution. Three years later, Waer installed an RFID system that employed passive EPC Gen 2 UHF tags at the sites of several of Daher's customers, and to monitor Daher's work-in-progress packaging services, during which 2,000 Daher trolleys are tracked via RFID while moving through a customer's plant. So Daher requested a UHF system to replace its existing LF technology, in order to manage all of its reusable boxes.

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