Lufthansa Technik (LHT), one of the leading providers of MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) services for civilian aircraft, has selected Motorola to provide RFID solutions for tracking aircraft components.
Attaching EPC UHF tags to documents that accompany the parts, Lufthansa Technik will be able to track their movement and deployment using handheld and stationary RFID readers from Motorola. As a result, the company expects to reduce, or even eliminate, the need for manual data entry, avoid delivery errors and significantly accelerate the repair process.
"As well as waiting time on the runway, allowing buffer time in the repair shop and in the logistics process for MRO operations also drives up costs," says Martin Stempelmann, project head at LHT. “As a service provider, we operate in a competitive market and we need to turn around our repairs quickly, safely and efficiently to ensure that we are providing our customers with the best possible experience.
"With the aid of the new RFID solution, we will be able to release aircraft back to our clients faster and without compromising safety."
The decision to implement the Motorola RFID solution in all of its facilities in Germany follows a successful trial at its maintenance centre in Hamburg. LHT has another centre in Frankfurt as well as maintenance stations at all of the larger German airports, as well as an additional 50 stations worldwide. Motorola MC9090-G RFID handheld readers and XR480 fixed RFID readers are being deployed as part of the ongoing solution rollout.
With the RFID solution, collecting data on the parts used and verifying their authenticity is automated, relieving the team of the time-consuming task of manually recording use and re-ordering parts. The system is designed to reduce the scope for human error, which can cause disruption to schedules if the wrong part is accidentally delivered.
"Using RFID means that Lufthansa no longer depends on ‘line of sight’ to obtain the installation information that the mechanics require," explains Michael Scheferhoff, chairman of the Air Transportation Association (ATA), the trade association that is pushing the development of new standards and working with LHT on this project.
"Today, the manual process involved in tracking and correctly moving a component following its disassembling, means that it takes, on average, several days for it to reach the workshop. Our goal is to use RFID technology to reduce this to just 24 hours."
In this first phase of implementation, LHT is applying an RFID tag to the documents that accompany aircraft components, with plans to streamline this process in the near future by directly tagging the parts themselves. LHT is currently in discussions with tag manufacturers in regard to selecting tags that can appropriately resist the harsh weather conditions, extreme temperatures and chemical substances that aircraft are subjected to on a regular basis.