While airlines such as Delta and Emirates are frequently using RFID technology to monitor and track baggage as it travels throughout the globe, Heathrow Airport, the second busiest international airport in the world, is also using RFID to monitor how passengers are moving their baggage around the airport.
Heathrow is currently evaluating results of a three-month pilot program where they attached RFID tags to its luggage carts to track their movements and usage between terminals and baggage claim areas. Understanding the location, movement and usage of their baggage carts can ensure they’re available for passenger when needed, better predict high-demand times and provide intelligence for the repair process.
The Innovation Team piloted the program in Terminal 4 of the airport, its least busy. They utilized low-cost, off-the-shelf passive UHF adhesive RFID tags, which they affixed to the handles of 2,000 baggage carts, also testing longevity and durability. Five RFID readers were installed around the baggage claim area at entrance and exit doors to track each time a cart passed through the doorway. The unique ID number assigned cart was uploaded to a cloud-based server where software could capture and manage the data. Airport personnel also manually counted carts at various locations to verify the RFID tracking data matched.
Initial data interpretations indicate the RFID tags were very accurate in capturing when carts passed through the readers, except in cases where the tag was lost, removed or damaged. The Innovation Team now has data available to further understand how many times carts are used, how long it took to return them to the baggage claim area and how often they should be collected by airport staff. Moving forward, they intend to overlay that intelligence with flight and weather information to be better prepared for high-traffic times.
To find out more about how RFID helped improve intelligence and efficiency through this pilot program, click here.