Asset tracking using chips
RFID technology or RFID chips may be the wave of the future. The current cost per chip is less than 10 cents. In 2008, more than a dozen newly designed passive UHF RFID tags emerged to be specifically mounted on metal. Because the majority of tools used are metal that is a distinct advantage. The advantage of the passive UHF RFID chip requires no power source and is activated when the tool is near the receiver.
The Air Transport Association (ATA) published updates in June 2009 to Spec 2000 that covers the data regarding automatic data-capture devices, including RFID radio frequency identification tags.
The RFID chips offer low-memory 512 bits and high-memory 4 to 64 kilobytes.
As the newer Mu chips are perfected, the size and cost should remain the same or become lower. The Mu chips are substantially smaller; however, Mu chips currently offer a smaller range or area for tracking and that is a disadvantage in large hangars and manufacturing plants.
Boeing integrated the use of RFID technology to help reduce cost and to keep track of inventory and assets. And Airbus indicates it has distributed RFID requirements as part of its technical specs for suppliers worldwide for the aircraft currently under development.
In many smaller facilities tools and tool management is an afterthought. However, tools are always a major investment and an easily traceable asset which should be treated as gold.
The tools equipped with etching and RFID tags have several advantages over the traditional label and bar-coded tools.
- First, security is enhanced if tools are carried through a gate or exit and an alarm may be triggered.
- Second, permanency of the marking is ensured and readily verifiable.
- The highly sophisticated bar codes, etching, and RFID chips ensure less tools will leave a facility than facilities which don’t use the latest techniques.
The combination of etched and RFID tags tools should improve traditional retrieval of the tool at any step in a repair cycle.
Craig J. “Buzz” Conroy of Gibsonia, PA, holds a M.S. in Aviation Leadership and frequently speaks to aviation and business conferences on related topics. He was an eyewitness to history by arriving at Somerset, PA, one hour and nine minutes after the Flight 93 crash on 9-11-2001. Conroy covered the incident for two national TV news channels. To contact him call (724) 443-6876 or (800) 344-1492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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