Is radio frequency identification being used in maintenance, repair and overhaul applications?
In 2006, ABI Research, of Oyster Bay, N.Y., predicted that the market for RFID in the aerospace and defense industries would reach $2 billion in 2011, and that one key opportunity was MRO, or maintenance, repair and overhaul (see MRO Is Major RFID Opportunity for Aero and Defense).
To date, we have not seen a huge rush to deploy the technology in this area, but ABI was right: RFID has the potential to greatly improve the process of maintaining and repairing equipment, and some companies are already beginning to explore that potential.
Lufthansa Technik, a global provider of MRO services for commercial aircraft, and its Lufthansa Technik Logistik subsidiary have begun utilizing an RFID application to track aircraft components (see Lufthansa Technik Uses RFID to Expedite Aircraft Repair).
Rolls-Royce is exploring how RFID might help it refine the complicated processes on which it relies to build and service engines and parts (see Rolls-Royce Tests RFID's Potential to Drive Its Supply Chain)
MTU Aero Engines, based in Munich, Germany, manufactures and repairs military and civil aircraft jet engines worth millions of dollars. In 2006, it launched a project utilizing RFID technology to enable production-line workers to alert the manufacturing system whenever more specific C-parts are required (see MTU Examines RFID to Keep Its Production Line Rolling).
With Boeing and Airbus moving toward deploying RFID more widely in their operations, it is likely that we will see a greater number of MRO applications, particularly in aerospace. From there, it will spread to other industries.
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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