According to Thierry Vasseur, vice-president of Zebra Technologies, baggage handling in airports could be significantly improved using RFID (radio frequency identification).
To improve cost-effectiveness and generate customer loyalty, airlines are having to employ the latest in technological solutions. These include RFID (radio frequency identification), which would be ideally suited to solving problems linked to baggage handling according to Thierry Vasseur, vice-president of Zebra Technologies.
RFID can track suitcases in real time and manage each stage of a journey without human intervention, making it the perfect tool to rationalise and automate processes. Its main objective is to reduce the number of pieces of luggage lost and the related costs, saving time and money which are two critical factors for travellers.
Ideal tool for process automation
Using RFID printers, baggage is given instantly coded labels containing various pieces of useful data such as the licence plate number (LPN) label which has information about the flight and the handling requirements. After they have checked in at a counter or a machine, passengers will see their luggage placed on a conveyor belt where an RFID reader will scan their labels, analyse the available data and ensure that the bags are delivered or transferred to the corresponding flight, gate or airline.
Automated baggage handling using RFID technology reduces the number of human interventions and therefore the risk of errors. It is an innovative solution which will also enable a useful double checking process in transit zones – if a piece of luggage is accidentally programmed to be loaded onto the wrong flight, an alert is set off.
Quicker and safer identification of luggage
When luggage is taken to the hold of the aircraft, tracking is monitored in real time by RFID readers at the key control points, meaning that priority baggage can be identified and handled more quickly, for example when there is a tight correspondence between two flights.
RFID readers also provide invaluable help if a passenger is not present at boarding or has to get off the plane. Portable RFID readers enable ground staff to find the baggage quickly and remove it from the hold as required by legislation, without having to move, scan and verify by hand the bar codes of all the luggage, as is the case with traditional baggage-handling. The aeroplane will then be authorised to take off sooner rather than later.
The tracking accuracy provided by RFID technology could reduce baggage handling error rates by 25% in airports by 2022, according to a recent study by SITA and the IATA.
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