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Boeing's deployment of Fujitsu's RFID Integrated Label is consistent with the aircraft company's use of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology for its own purposes, as well as those of airlines.
In 2012, Boeing first began working with Fujitsu to launch a system to tag components with RFID tags so that airlines, maintenance workers and inspectors could read and write data about each part's history as it is used, inspected or repaired. In the meantime, Boeing has been using the same technology this year to improve its aircraft manufacturing productivity by tracking flyable parts during the final stages, such as assembly and inspection of aircrafts, as well as for shipping to a customer. The in-house solution provides component lifecycle management during assembly, thereby helping the company to reduce the costs of tracking components. Boeing is also considering an expansion of the technology to include the tracking of parts when they are received and as they move around the facility prior to assembly.
At the same time, Fujitsu is sending starter kits to component suppliers so that it can encode tags and apply them to its components before they are shipped to Boeing, or to French-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
At the four Boeing assembly sites at which the technology is deployed internally, the company is tagging some parts as part of a phased initiative to manage the movement of aircraft parts internally, explains John Yu, Boeing's senior manager for automated identification. The firm acquired Fujitsu's solution for tagging, encoding and reading RFID tags on parts. Over time, additional components are expected to arrive at Boeing's assembly sites with RFID tags already applied.
Before the RFID system's deployment, Boeing explains, the management of parts during assembly was a matter of performing visual checks and manually entering data in order to confirm where specific parts were located and in which assembly they were used.
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