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Each generator has a limited service life"”typically, 12 to 15 years"”part of which could be lost if products spent excessive time sitting on a shelf waiting to be installed on a plane. Prior to Delta's adoption of the RFID system, the company estimates that up to 15 percent of its generators' life span was wasted due to devices sitting in stock.
In addition, when the devices are installed in aircraft, they require regular inspections to ensure that they are not approaching an expiration date. This necessitates a large amount of labor on the part of staff members assigned to this task. Prior to the RFID system's adoption"”when panels above seats had to be opened in order to perform oxygen generator date checks during certain maintenance visits"”it made sense to replace every generator that would expire before the next series of inspections. That meant many generators were discarded prior to reaching their full shelf life, thereby creating an unpredictable inventory demand.
Rick Lewis, one of Delta's business analysts for aircraft maintenance, spent approximately a year researching solutions, as well as another year in development with the solution providers selected. In carrying out his research, Lewis not only examined the technology used, but also met with maintenance, IT, engineering and other departments within Delta, to determine the type of functionality required.
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