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RFID for Air Cargo
An automated RFID-based tracking solution would not only solve most of the problems airlines face in managing unit load devices (ULDs), but also lead to RFID usage for more applications.
Making A Business Case Based on ROI
RFID-tagging of ULDs or cargo shipments would entail the installation of interrogators and other RFID infrastructures at all major airports throughout the world, as well as hosting information database systems to make data available to all airlines for widespread adoption. There would be a need for huge investments to enact a global rollout, and no single airline can afford to go ahead alone. A global rollout would need to establish a clear road map, along with an unambiguous business case based on such time-tested methods for return on investment (ROI) as payback, net present value (NPV) and the internal rate of return (IRR).
ROI math for business case is based on the following information:
(Click here for a larger version of the photo.)
The key decisions for the airline industry are as follow:
At Infosys, we believe RFID technology offers a better business case for tracking ULDs. However, decisions regarding the selection of RFID technology (passive or active tags), tag databases, industry-standard numbering logic across different locations, agreement on tag location, readers and hosting ASP solutions across major airports must be made only after careful analysis, backed by results from real-life pilots.
The tradeoff between the type and cost of tags, the number of reader locations, the accuracy of read rates, distances, interferences, noise, global compatibility standards on data sharing, battery life, vendor management for procuring tags and the value perceived by airlines' needs (vis-à-vis the capital costs) must be carefully analyzed. An RFID ULD-tracking solution could also help the airline industry standardize handling processes in air cargo. To further optimize their RFID infrastructure investment in tracking ULDs, airlines could also use the system to track premium, time-definite express cargo across their networks, comply with new FAA security regulations and more.
Pankaj Narayan Pandit, a principal consultant, for airlines practice with Infosys Technologies, has over 16 years of experience in the airline industry.
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