RFID tag test results: Very fast ROI for some applications

RFID tests prove tangible return on investment for airline baggage tracking; Odin tests show radio frequency identification accuracy at 99.9% vs. less than 90% for barcode.
January 1, 2010


RFID benchmark test results

The test covered:
– Tag Sensitivity Consistency or Manufacturing Consistency;
– Power Effectiveness (PE);
– Orientation Sensitivity (OS);
– Distance testing; and
– High speed baggage conveyor testing.
The RFID Baggage Tag Benchmark is sponsored by Siemens, a supplier of solutions for airport processes between landing and take-off. As one of the major suppliers of RFID systems Siemens is using RFID as one of the key technologies to make airport operations more efficient.

Travelers may have fewer lost bags. The airline industry has another well-documented use for radio frequency identification (RFID) – baggage tracking, according to Odin. For the first time, several RFID tags designed specifically for airline baggage tracking provided nearly 100% read accuracy across global RFID frequency testing. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), each piece of lost luggage costs between $90 and $100 in direct costs. To help airlines and airports choose optimal tags and eliminate this unnecessary expense, Odin created the first scientific RFID study for airline baggage tracking, the RFID Baggage Tag Benchmark.

The benchmark study is designed to help airports and airlines understand the key performance characteristics behind successful RFID baggage tagging solutions and how current tag offerings stack up to scientific scrutiny. Designed for end users, the data is presented for scientific RF tag performance as well as high speed conveyor testing. The RFID Baggage Tag Benchmark can save Airport authorities and airlines tens of thousands of dollars in testing and narrow in on successful products available today, Odin says.

"We’ve had airports contact us about using stimulus money to modernize baggage systems in an effort to make their airports more attractive to international carriers and cut costs at the same time. Airlines and airports must replace 35 year-old barcodes, but don’t know what RFID systems are best. Odin’s RFID Baggage Tag Benchmark provides answers," commented Patrick J. Sweeney II, Odin’s founder.

"Already a dozen airports globally have adopted RFID for baggage tracking. We expect half the airports worldwide to be using RFID in the next five years. It is a very fast return on investment, especially since more than 10% of all baggage errors are caused by unreadable barcodes whereas over 98% of all RFID tagged baggage today is read properly the first time. For Class B airports or major carriers, RFID can provide a pay back in less than 12 months. In the past the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has made funding for these projects available for Airport authorities because of the faster access to tagged bags and enhanced security. Now that airports have more variety in quality tag choices and solid ROI case studies, there has never been a better time to invest in RFID," Sweeney said.

In the Benchmark ODIN tested 13 tags using first scientific, laboratory based tests, and secondarily on a high speed baggage sortation system. The main goal was to test tag sensitivity of converted labels (baggage tags) across the global UHF frequency band (ETSI/Europe, FCC/United States, and TELEC/Japan). Europe and Japan represent the low and high end of the UHF frequency spectrum allocated for use globally and the United States covers a wide spectrum in the middle, Odin said. Other geographies typically allocate spectrum within these ranges. It is important to test across the UHF spectrum because tag performance often varies in different frequencies.


To order an industry-specific RFID case study, visit http://bit.ly/8KPVkJ.

Also read from Control Engineering : What’s your RFID spin?

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, Control Engineering , www.controleng.com.