Parts manufacturer: Records critical data, i.e., part number, serial number, date of manufacture, when it’s shipped. Some data goes on the nameplate; other data is written down on hardcopy records, and/or in an electronic database. Some information is shipped along with the part; some stays behind with the manufacturer.
Airframe manufacturer – receiving: Receives the part, takes whatever data came along with it, and adds its own, i.e., date received, shipping carrier, warehouse location. This information is now stored in its own system.
Airframe manufacturer – assembly line: Installs the part on an aircraft and additional data is generated, i.e., location on aircraft, date of installation. This information typically stays behind with the manufacturer after the aircraft is delivered to a customer.
Aircraft owner/operator: Performs in-service maintenance activities; stores identification information and records related to maintenance and replacement tasks. This data is property of the airline.
MRO organization: Stores historical record information, in-service maintenance tasks, overhaul records, engineering, and modification status, etc. Data from the owner/operator would help the MRO process but is difficult to access.
Not having updated information follow a part creates one of the biggest challenges for an MRO organization. If the part is actually a smart asset, the situation is much different. Using a handheld reader, the maintenance crew can instantly learn the manufacturer’s CAGE code, the current part number, who did the last installation. That data is now known with certainty, without a database lookup. After a part is changed or repaired, technicians can write the new activity information back to the part. They can also upload the new information to a Maintenance Information System database reducing their administrative time and risk of manual error.
Smart assets will soon have the capability of forming a complete information system that can capture, compute, communicate, and collaborate around the data they contain. By embedding input devices like sensors, and output devices like displays or indicators, smart assets will be able to automatically monitor and interact with their environment without human participation, an advantage in remote or inhospitable locations.
Bob Hamlin is chief technology officer at Tego, the leading provider of high memory RFID tagging solutions. Bob may be reached at email@example.com.
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These tags store data such as part and serial numbers, manufacturer codes, date of installation and country of origin.