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RFID Technology in Aviation: RFID Tags for Check-in Baggage

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Aug 22, 2023
  • RFID
RFID Tags for Check-in Baggage

“With its ability to track and identify objects remotely, RFID technology has found a valuable application in the aviation sector, particularly in the management of check-in baggage and flyer check-ins.”

 

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology has revolutionized various industries, and aviation is no exception. Being a wireless technology, RFID has been particularly helpful in accurately identifying and tracking baggage and flyers. 

Various industries and market verticals are rapidly digitizing their business infrastructure and RFID is playing a significant role in business process optimization and automation, just like many popular IoT technologies including BLE, LoRaWAN, UWB, NFC, etc.

RFID in Aviation Industry

In the aviation industry, like QR Code technology, RFID technology is leveraged for uniquely identifying each baggage belonging to each flyer and tracking their location within the airport premises. RFID baggage tags are unique baggage tags with an RFID microchip and antenna in them (a UHF Passive RFID label). The microchip holds information about the baggage owner and the flight in particular vis-à-vis journey and destination. 

Apart from baggage claims, RFID-enabled tickets are also available allowing fast check-in and streamline passenger movement at an airport. 

RFID-enabled Baggage Tags at IGI New Delhi Airport

The Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi (IGI) is planning to introduce RFID-enabled Baggage tags (nicknamed Bagg Trax) to accurately identify and track the baggage of the flyers and to inform flyers about the real-time location of their luggage during transit. 

Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which manages the Delhi IGI Airport will initially hand out the RFID tags to flyers at Terminal 3 of the IGI airport and it will allow passengers to know which belt their baggage would be once they arrive at the destination. Once the pilot project is successful, flyers can purchase the Bagg Trax from the departure lounge.

Let’s explore the implementation of RFID tags for check-in baggage in airports, and how it enhances efficiency, security, and customer experience at airports.

Definition and Functionality of RFID Technology

RFID technology utilizes radio wave signals to identify and track objects/animals/individuals equipped with RFID tags. RFID tags consist of an integrated circuit (IC) and a small antenna, enabling wireless communication with RFID readers. The IC chip inside the tag can store and transmit data, allowing for seamless identification and tracking of objects and individuals.

Benefits of RFID technology for Check-in Baggage

As a cost-effective and efficient wireless technology, RFID offers many benefits for check-in baggage as followings:

Enhanced Efficiency in Baggage Handling

RFID tags enable automated baggage handling systems, reducing the need for manual handling. It minimizes the human-errors significantly and no bag is lost in transit. Besides, baggage can be tracked in real-time, ensuring timely delivery and reducing the risk of misplacement. During transfers and connecting flights, RFID offers faster and more accurate baggage reconciliation and saves huge costs to the airline.

Improved Security in Baggage Handling

RFID tags reduce the risk of unauthorized access or tampering and enable enhanced baggage security at airports and during transit. Real-time tracking of baggage allows immediate identification of misplaced or lost baggage, enabling prompt action.

 Moreover, efficient baggage screening using RFID technology enhances airport security protocols.

Enhanced Customer Experience

Apart from security and efficiency, RFID-enabled baggage tags (Bagg Trax) provide passengers with peace of mind, knowing that their baggage is being monitored throughout the journey. The reduced chances of lost or mishandled baggage lead to improved customer satisfaction.

RFID also enables seamless baggage transfers and shorter wait times at baggage claim areas, preventing chaos and promoting ease of travel.

What are the Implementation Challenges while Implementing RFID Technology at Airports?

While RFID is a well-known technology, implementing RFID technology for baggage security and ticketing at airports needs complete planning and research. Here are some factors that you might consider:

Cost considerations

The first thing is the cost considerations for the entire project. Initial implementation costs can be high, including the installation of RFID infrastructure and retrofitting existing baggage systems, but lately, the costs of UHF RFID tags have come down significantly, 4- 5 cents per tag if bought in bulk.

Besides, long-term benefits, such as reduced labor costs and improved operational efficiency, justify the investment.

Standardization and Interoperability

Ensuring compatibility and interoperability between different airlines, airports, and baggage handling systems remains a challenge, and the development and adoption of industry-wide standards are crucial for the successful deployment of RFID technology in aviation.

That being said, various airports across the globe are successfully implementing RFID technology for ticketing and baggage handling. 

 

  • 1. Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)

Various airlines at HKIA were incurring heavy losses due to baggage mishandling and that is why HKIA implemented RFID technology for baggage handling. The system enables real-time tracking and automated sorting, leading to improved efficiency and customer satisfaction. It also resulted in a significant decrease in mishandled baggage helped lots of airlines. 

  • 2. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

The Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, also implemented RFID tags on baggage to enhance security and reduce the risk of baggage-related incidents. The RFID system enables quick and accurate baggage reconciliation, minimizing the chances of lost or mishandled baggage.

The airports also enable the efficient handling of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products with the use of passive RFID sensors.

To conclude, RFID technology has brought numerous benefits to the aviation industry, particularly in the management of check-in baggage. The implementation of RFID tags for baggage tracking has significantly improved efficiency, security, and customer experience. While challenges exist, the successful case studies and ongoing advancements in technology such as chipless RFID and RFID sensors indicate a promising future for RFID in aviation. Many airports worldwide should also consider adopting RFID technology to enhance their baggage handling systems and provide a seamless travel experience for passengers in the future.

 

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  • Created on Aug 22, 2023
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