A recent press release, posted on RFID Solutions Online, announces that global aircraft manufacturer Airbus has selected both IBM and OAT Systems for a multi-year, multi-million dollar forthcoming implementation of RFID technology to streamline Airbus’s supply chain and manufacturing operations, with an intent to significantly reduce costs.

There has been much discussion over these past few years on the long-term value of RFID technology.  It was rather unfortunate that certain technology vendors jumped on the hype bandwagon, and large influencers such as Wal-Mart issued RFID-related mandates so early in the evolution process of this technology, before mature standards as well as more cost-effective technology such as item tags, could be justified for broader, more wide-scale value proposition.

In September of 2005, I wrote an article in RFID Update, indicating my view that RFID investments had to be placed in a broader context of a strategy for leveraged use of sensory networks.  My argument was that business cases and project plans for sensory networks should reflect this broader perspective, and that technology options for the sensory network include RFID, bar codes, wireless terminal, EDI and other appropriate technologies, depending on business- and cost-efficiency requirements.  A sensory network can leverage any of these key process capabilities, and RFID in particular has the long-term potential to dramatically impact the latter three.

RFID usage cases have improved since 2005, not just in the obvious regulatory compliance areas, but also in the sensing of logistics and inventory movements, and broader sensing related to timelier decision-support needs.  I for one take notice to the fact that Airbus has placed in a big way, its trust in this technology to deliver needed benefits.

RFID continues to be a viable technology option, leveraged in the broader strategy of cost-justified, sensory networks. 

Perhaps Boeing and others will follow in these announcements related to sensory networks.

Bob Ferrari