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Airbus Leads the Way

As it uses RFID across its value chain to bring visibility and benefits to all areas of its operations, the airplane maker is blazing a path for other manufacturers to follow.
By Mark Roberti
The article compares RFID to the use of radar to manage airplanes landing at airports—an analogy Nizam frequently uses when speaking at RFID Journal events. But instead of utilizing real-time data about the identity and location of airplanes, Airbus is employing RFID and other technologies as a kind of "business radar" that lets managers see what is going on digitally, automatically and in real time. The information enables managers to optimize processes and make the right decisions faster.

Why extend the benefits beyond Airbus' four walls to partners in the value chain?

"Airbus considers the value chain to effectively be 'profits in motion,'" the article explains. "These profits are not limited to any one particular function, but are spread all along it. The same being true for costs. Costs arise from waste that does not distinguish itself between functions, nor limit itself to company boundaries. So Airbus is focusing on the big life-cycle picture in order to make the big savings and develop an approach that maximizes benefit to all actors across the value chain."

So far, Airbus has deployed almost 20 industrial projects, including several that improve warehouse logistics and tool management and track work-in-process. "All these projects, without exception, have shown very strong financial benefits on the order of millions of Euros per year, with payback periods in most cases of less than one year," the article states. "The tangible benefits induced by the higher level of automation include a reduction in inventory and capital assets, and improved productivity and quality."

When I launched RFID Journal a decade ago, this is what I envisioned—companies using the technology to track and manage what had previously been impossible to track and manage. Airbus will likely be the first truly RFID-enabled company. It's not there yet, but it is well ahead of most businesses in developing and executing a strategy that will lead to major cost reductions and quality improvements.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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