RFID and Government Regulation

By Mark Roberti

Radio frequency identification can help reduce the burden of data collection and paperwork associated with government oversight.

If there is one thing most businesspeople agree on, it is that government regulation increases the cost of doing business. Complying with well-intentioned rules is not what bothers them most. What's frustrating is the requirement to collect a lot of information that needs to be provided to the government, either at regular intervals or when the government requests it. Data collection and the associated paperwork demands a lot of time and labor. This is where radio frequency identification can help. RFID can automate the collection of data and reduce the workload on employees (see Automating Compliance Processes).

Aviation is one sector that has strict regulations. Many parts on a plane must be removed and either serviced or replaced after a set number of flights. Repairs to any parts that break must also be recorded. This means that technicians spend a good part of their day writing down part numbers (sometimes they get the serial number wrong, which is also a problem), and recording what work was performed on each part.

Aman Aviation & Aerospace Solutions has deployed an RFID solution to accurately track parts and reduce paperwork (see Indian Aviation MRO Company Expects RFID to Reduce Labor by 50 Percent). Prior to the RFID deployment, the company had to create a document to follow every component it received from an airline customer. Technicians recorded which services were performed on that particular component, and a copy was stored onsite. The firm's maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) engineers and workers spent roughly 20 percent of their time simply filling out paperwork, routing it to the proper location after a component left the facility and storing it in fireproof containers.

Now, when Aman Aviation receives a component that needs to be serviced, it either writes data to a tag installed on the part by the manufacturer or adds a new tag containing 2 to 8 kilobits of user memory (new tags are encoded with the necessary International Air Transport Association [IATA]-approved data). Once service to the part is completed, the new inspection data is written to the tag and stored in a local database.

Placing tags on parts is, of course, another activity that requires labor, but most parts that require inspection and service will eventually be manufactured with RFID tags, and this task will thus be eliminated. In the meantime, the ability to reduce the amount of data input and paperwork handling should enable Aman Aviation to reduce the amount of time employees spend on these tasks by 50 percent.

Airlines, of course, are also subject to a lot of regulations. Each seat, for example, must have an oxygen canister that has not expired, as well as a life vest, if the planned route is above water. I've written before about how RFID has enabled Delta Air Lines to reduce the amount of time these tasks require (see RFID Is Now a Corporate Priority).

It's not just the airline industry that must comply with government regulations, though. The automobile, medical device, oil and gas production, pharmaceutical and fishing sectors are all highly regulated as well. RFID can help all players in these sectors reduce the time and labor associated with collecting information for government agencies.

Aerospace and defense companies that attend our RFID in Aerospace and Defense conference will learn how to develop a strategic approach to RFID—one that lets them comply with customer requests and achieve internal benefits, including facilitating compliance with government regulations.

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.