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Hybrid RFID and Bar-Code Reader Aims to Smooth IATA Resolution Transition for Airlines
With IATA Resolution 753 for tagged baggage on all flights, airlines globally are making the move to incorporate RFID into their baggage-handling systems, while still using the existing bar-coding systems, and FEIG Electronic is selling its ECCO+ as an enabling technology.
In the meantime, Delta Air Lines has installed an infrastructure of fixed RFID readers at conveyors where bags are sorted, loaded onto and unloaded from planes throughout airports worldwide. That data not only helps the airline to ensure that no baggage is misrouted, but also enables it to send an update to passengers using the Delta app indicating the luggage's status, such as unloaded and available at the baggage carousel.
At present, Binder says, several airlines are searching for a simple method to implement RFID at airports around the world. "As an airline, they depend on the equipment in the airports," he says, adding that thus far, loly a few are already using RFID, and none are using it for baggage tagging. While airlines have the pressure of the IATA resolution, the airports themselves, where the RFID baggage labels are generated, do not face the same pressure.
Even after more airports and airlines transition to RFID-based baggage tracking, Binder says, the ECCO+ may be required for exception-based tag reads or bar-code scans. In Europe, he notes, two airlines are now piloting the technology, while U.S.-based airlines have been in discussions with Delta regarding their own deployments.
Delta gained certification from IATA for its RFID-based system at four key points along each bag's movement from airport of origin to destination. The airline reports, based on numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation, that the technology has enabled it to experience the lowest mishandled baggage rate for a carrier of its size. The airline moves 120 million checked bags annually.
In 2016, IATA conducted a study that found RFID deployments globally could reduce the number of mishandled bags by as much as 25 percent by 2022. That, the association predicts, would save the industry $3 billion. Last year, Delta won RFID Journal's Best RFID Implementation Award, at which time Rodney Brooks, the airline's operations field support director, said "We have more work to do, but the success to date is the result of lots of hard work by the field support team, or IT colleagues, and most of all our frontline employees" (see Award Finalists Session: Best RFID Implementation: Delta Air Lines).
Going forward, says Ashton Kang, Delta Air Line's corporate communications manager, Delta may continue to expand its technology use for baggage management, "We continue to look for opportunities to further improve our baggage-handling and cargo systems," he states, "enhancing our technology and processes until every bag and cargo delivery arrives with the customer as planned."
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