RFID is finding countless use cases when it comes to maintenance and operations within manufacturing facilities. One of those with the highest paybacks is the ability to eliminate foreign object damage (FOD) caused by tools and other devices.
The payback for this kind of application can be huge. Consider that Boeing reports that the cost to repair an engine damaged by a foreign object can exceed $1 billion. According to the FAA, foreign object damage costs the aerospace industry an estimated $4 billion annually.
A leading aviation MRO service provider with more than a dozen facilities in Europe and the U.S. is rolling out an RFID-enabled tool tracking system after a successful pilot in Europe during Q4 of 2013.
In the pilot program, 276 different tools were tagged with Xerafy tags and automatically recorded as they were signed in and out of tool cribs. The system also records the worker who checks out the tool, and records where it will be used.
If a tool goes missing, supervisors can check the log to see the most recent user and location. Missing tools are quickly located using handheld RFID readers, even if the tool isn’t visible. The system can also issue alerts when tools are not returned.
The company considers the program such a competitive advantage that it has chosen to remain anonymous.
“Our main objective is to ensure the safety during maintenance operations,” says a project leader from the MRO organization. “The insertion of the tags on tools will allow us to eliminate any possibility of human error and will be a great help to search for any tools inside the aircraft.”
The system uses XS Series Dot-On and Dash-On read-on-metal UHG RFID tags from Xerafy that are embedded into tools, plus handheld RFID readers and NG Way’s ToolCheck software to record which tools are assigned to technicians, track tool locations and to verify that no tools are left behind when maintenance activity is completed.
The automated system saves time compared to paper-based record keeping and manual tool searches, improves records accuracy and makes tool status information available in real time. It has slashed check-in/check-out time and has significantly reduced time spent searching for tools. Integrating ToolCheck into the enterprise’s other asset management and resource management systems has created even greater savings, including reduced maintenance time and costs.
“The success at this high-quality MRO provider is another example of how RFID can effectively prevent foreign object damage,” says Xerafy founder and CEO Dennis Khoo. “The business case for RFID in this environment is clear and has been well proven in the aerospace, nuclear power and other industries.”