Monday, March 11, 2013

RFID Tagging of Aviation Parts Doesn’t Need to be Complicated

Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, has revolutionized the labeling of flyable parts used in the aerospace industry. Like barcodes or 2-D Data Matrix labels, RFID tags are permanent identification markers that are read with an automated device, and stay with the part throughout its life. This is especially important for aircraft parts, which are always on the move and may have a lifespan of decades.

But RFID tags offer a number of advantages over barcodes and Data Matrix for labeling aircraft parts. Because they use radio waves, a direct line of sight is not required to read RFID tags. So, for example, someone can read RFID tags on aircraft life vests kept in under seat storage without removing each individual life vest and finding its tag. Reading devices can typically read multiple RFID tags simultaneously. This increases efficiency and saves time and money. In the example of checking all life vests aboard an aircraft, RFID tags reduce the time it takes to complete the task from hours to minutes.

Another advantage of RFID tags is that they can store substantially more information than barcodes. The tags will contain at minimum the part’s, “birth record,” — information available at the time the part is manufactured, including the component’s manufacturer, when it was made, part number, and serial number.

RFID tags can also store the part’s maintenance and repair history. While more expensive high-memory RFID tags are needed for this purpose, the extra expense is often worthwhile, as having the part’s maintenance records available with the part whenever it’s needed is a huge plus for anyone servicing the component.

Software helps meet ATA Spec 2000 RFID requirements

The Air Transport Association’s Spec 2000 standards include a specific format for information on RFID tags. Following the format doesn’t have to be a headache if one uses software designed for this purpose.

TegoView Software is fully compatible with ATA Spec 2000 RFID requirements for organizing tag data.

TegoView Software, which runs on standard RFID readers, makes it easy for users to initialize tags, write information to memory and display tag data in a user-friendly format. TegoView Software has additional benefits. A network connection isn’t required to run the software, making it ideal for use in the field. Records can be synchronized later when a network connection is available. A worker trying to find a part can use TegoView to locate it using tag information such as part number or warranty date — and then access the part’s complete history. TegoView also offers an option for storing graphics files on the tags for later retrieval.

A good source for more information on ATA Spec 2000 RFID is