RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a unique wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking. Some tags require no battery and are instead powered by electromagnetic fields, while others use local power sources to emit radio waves. These tags store information electronically and can be read from up to several yards away. RFID is implemented in many industries. Pharmaceuticals apply them in their warehousing to keep track of stocked items. Tags are injected in livestock, allowing the animals to be positively identified. Even the automobile industry uses RFID to detect and retrieve stolen cars or bill motorists for access to toll roads. There are endless opportunities with RFID, and the air cargo business has begun to apply them to ULDs for easier tracking and tracing.
A major problem the airlines face is their present ULD tracking system. Currently, the airlines face hardships such as human error (human intervention is required to read and record the ULD number by a UCM) and lack of centralized data. There is no way to reconcile a ULDthat leaves the system at one airport and reappears at another, and this causes big problems.
Although airlines were late to adopt the RFID tags, they now use them on ULDs, passenger baggage, TD cargo shipments, and ground handling equipment. Attaching an RFID tag to a ULD allows airline personnel and customers to track the baggage at several airports and airlines through common Internet applications. ULDs equipped with RFID tags are automatically registered at points where liability changes hands. This is extremely important to airlines. Air France and Lufthansa alone lose 5-6% every year of their ULD inventory, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. If they attached RFID tags, they would know the last known location of the ULD and most likely find the containers. The implementation of these tags leads to higher transparency between logistics providers and airline carriers, ensuring quicker clearance through US customs. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags do not need to be within line of sight of the reader and may be embedded in the traced object.
In order to work efficiently, RFID must be used within the entire supply chain. The tags provide distributors and customers with constant updates and reliable data regarding their shipments. By attaching RFID tags to ULDs, loading and unloading processes are accelerated and the risk of improper loadings is reduced. If you would like greater control over your shipments, RFID tags are the perfect solution and will always keep you updated.