Some Defense and Aerospace Companies Are Becoming Serious About RFID

By Mark Roberti

The level of engagement at last week's RFID in Aerospace and Defense event was high, which is a good sign.

This past week, RFID Journal hosted RFID in Aerospace and Defense 2017, in Arlington, Va. The goal of the event was to help companies and organizations in this sector learn how radio frequency identification technologies could help them improve the way they do business—or, in the case of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), conduct operations and wage war.

There were 120 people in attendance, up by 33 percent from the 90 people who attended last year. All U.S. military branches were in attendance, as well as aerospace companies, airlines and DoD suppliers.

I was impressed with the level of engagement, right from the first speaker. People asked questions and were engaged with the exhibitors, and there were a lot of conversations in the hallway.

Often, the last session or two of our one-day events tend to experience a drop-off in attendance, as folks head out to make a flight or beat the traffic home. But last week, the room was about 90 percent full for the last session—an excellent panel of users within the branches of the DoD.

When that final session ended, people stood up but didn't leave the room. Instead, they broke up into small groups and continued to talk. We were hosting an RFID Professional Institute certification exam 40 minutes after the last session ended, and we had to push people to leave the room. Even then, the conversations continued in the hallway.

It was an encouraging sign. The DoD's RFID efforts lost some momentum after funding was cut across the board (remember the "sequester"?). Now, the supply chain and automatic-identification experts within the DoD seem determine to kick those efforts back into high gear.

The aerospace industry also lost some momentum when Airbus changed the leadership of its RFID team. But Boeing seems to be moving ahead, and IATA seems keen to push the standards for RFID in aviation.

There are still too many Boeing, Airbus and DoD suppliers that are just tagging items and not using the technology internally to achieve any benefits, but perhaps that will start to change. I hope events like the one we held last week can show companies that there are real benefits to be had if they embrace RFID.

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 or the Editor's Note archive.