Printronix, the leading integrated supply-chain printing solutions manufacturer, has completed an extended RFID (radio frequency identification) trial with Virgin Atlantic Airways, Britain's second-large airline.
The trial, which includes Printronix's RFID SL5000r printer available from Kirtech, was intended to evaluate the impact of RFID technology on accuracy, efficiency and accountability in the company's central logistics, maintenance and engineering departments.
Virgin Atlantic Airways has a fleet of 33 aircraft and is now based at both London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports. It operates long-haul services to 26 destinations worldwide as far apart as Las Vegas and Shanghai.
Accuracy, schedule maintenance and accountability are critical to success in the highly competitive air-travel market.
The decision to pilot RFID technology at the airline's Heathrow operation was based on several critical factors, including increasing competitiveness and operational cost pressures in the airline industry, and recognising an opportunity for increased efficiency and risk reduction in the spare-parts supply chain.
Additional anticipated benefits include an increased ability to comply with guidelines concerning traceability and authenticity of aircraft components from the European Aviation Safety Agency and integration with RFID specifications proposed by Boeing and Airbus.
According to Virgin Atlantic Airways, working closely with TATA Consulting Services and Oracle, it chose to partner with Printronix after considering other RFID printer manufacturers.
The technology and support offered by Printronix was unparalleled in terms of reliability and professionalism. In addition, the company was able to work to a quite aggressive timeframe of less than five months from initial meeting to full trial rollout.
The trial received positive feedback from the users involved, as well as offering some measurable benefits.
Virgin Atlantic was able to demonstrate that, should the RFID/mobile technology processes replace Virgin Atlantic's existing ones, then task time would be substantially reduced. Virgin Atlantic was delighted to be involved with this successful trial.
A great deal of attention has been paid to the role of RFID in the retail sector but this is a perfect example of the way in which the technology can deliver financial and efficiency results in other mission-critical areas as well.