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NXP, Other Companies Preparing for Influx of RFID Baggage Technology Requests

The International Air Transport Association has recommended that all airline passenger bags be tagged with RFID by 2020; RFID companies expect the technology's resulting growth to reflect the retail industry's adoption.
By Claire Swedberg

"We believe that for the RAIN RFID industry," Werblin says, "IATA 753 represents a significant opportunity over the next several years to track more than four billion pieces of luggage annually through airports around the world." That universal use of RFID could improve operations and customer service, she notes, as well as save airlines billions of dollars annually. "For the RAIN industry, this is huge in that it's one of the biggest ways we've seen yet to bring the benefits of RAIN directly to the consumer. It's a great sign of things to come."

With regard to RFID inlays, several companies are serving up products to meet the growing demand. More than 40 million bags have already been tagged with Alien's tags, says Patti Blessing, the firm's VP of business development. Alien's Squiggle and SHORT tags are being used to automate baggage tracking, and the company's latest inlay, the Aviator, was designed specifically for the airline industry luggage-tagging initiative, she says.

"These tags provide superior performance for requirements," Blessing says, "including sortation and singulation." Airlines are also using Alien's H450 handheld and enterprise F800 reader to capture the tag ID numbers of baggage labels at airports. "As we learned with retail RFID adoption, once RFID is deployed, it feeds into all areas of operations and brings increased value." She cites applications such as tool and equipment tracking at airports, tool calibration management and access control as a few potential use cases.

Software and logistics solutions company Lyngsoe Systems serves as both a product supplier and systems integrator for baggage-handling systems. A total of 1,600 Lyngsoe Belt Loader Readers are installed throughout 84 airports to provide automatic notification of baggage status, thereby speeding up loading times and reducing man-hours, says Kristine Koldkjaer, Lyngsoe's product manager. One of the main hubs in Europe is also using a Datalogic and Lyngsoe ATR+R bar-code and RFID reader solution for the accurate sortation of bags.

One obstacle to large-scale rollouts has been the limited amount of tagged baggage. "We have delivered solutions to airlines and airports for over 10 years now," Koldkjaer says, "and are thrilled to see one of the main barriers for RFID adaption finally being removed." Lyngsoe is now expanding its RFID solution portfolio to support more airport use cases, she reports. The company plans to release a new selection of RFID readers for wide-body plane loading.

Zebra Technologies provides RFID baggage-handling solutions for both Hong Kong International Airport and McCarren Airport, as well as others, says Pankaj Shukla, Zebra's director of global RFID market development. In recent years, Zebra's FX7500 fixed readers and AN-480 antennas were deployed by a global airline at approximately 85 North American airports.

"Our new FX9600 high-performance RFID reader is also designed to meet the performance and environmental requirements for similar usage," Shukla states. Later this year, he says, the company plans to introduce an RFID-enabled handheld mobile computer that will be "ideal for baggage sortation and below the wing operations among other applications."

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