At Boeing, the existing system - which it calls the Automated Identification Technology - Information Management System (AIT-IMS) - manages all data collected from more than 1,000 different sensor devices, such as readers, receivers and access points across the aerospace company's U.S. sites. The data being centrally managed on Boeing's server comes from both passive and active RFID readers, as well as from GPS technology and multiple software platforms, so that users can access data regarding assets, work in progress (WIP) and materials at numerous sites.
The newly released ESI system is a scalable software platform intended for use across a company's entire enterprise, says Mike Spencer, Tapestry Solutions' VP of global sales and marketing. It is sensor-agnostic, meaning it can manage data from all varieties of RFID readers, including ultrahigh-frequency (UHF), high-frequency (HF) and active RFID, as well as Wi-Fi networks and other sensors. ESI, which can be cloud-based or reside on a user's own server, integrates all data streams and allows users to not only locate items, but also receive alerts and conduct analytics.
Tapestry Solutions has provided sensor-based middleware to the U.S. Department of Defense for years. The company caught Boeing's attention in 2008 when the aerospace firm was seeking a system to manage the many independent RFID- and other sensor-based systems installed at its sites worldwide. Boeing acquired Tapestry Solutions that same year, and in 2013 it began integrating its systems with AIT-IMS. Boeing and Tapestry Solutions then spent two years deploying the solution across the entire global enterprise. The technology has been live since 2014.
Before the AIT-IMS technology was implemented, Spencer says, "Boeing had a big problem — and it's a problem a lot of companies have." The company has thousands of assets distributed around the globe, most of which are high in value. Boeing had established dozens of systems — using multiple types of sensors, both RFID and otherwise — but few were integrated. "Boeing asked us to build a solution that integrates data from a variety of sensors, RFID readers and software platforms."
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