LONDON QinetiQ and the Harrier IPT have started a one year ‘proof of concept’ evaluation of an active radio frequency identification (RFID) system that automatically tracks critical aircraft equipment between designated zones.
The Forward Maintenance Asset Tracking (ForMAT) proof of concept underlines the IPT’s drive for efficient assurance of operational capability and through enhanced visibility of assets, will improve aircraft turnaround, reduce stock holdings resulting in financial savings and minimise the effort spent looking for them.
Around 1200 ‘high value/critical’ items, some costing up to �£50k, including aircraft role equipment, line replacement units (LRU) and special to type test equipment, held within the forward maintenance areas at RAF Cottesmore, have each been tagged with active RFID devices located within ‘remove before flight’ flags.
QinetiQ’s Forward Maintenance Asset Tracking (ForMAT) system incorporates active RFID technology based on commercially available products from Wavetrend and ‘SAINT ACTIV’ asset tracking software from Datrotech. This has been combined and deployed with a WiFi system that receives/transmits the information from the RFID reader networks.
Currently a 32 bit data stream provides the unique electronic ID for each ‘tagged’ item. This is then correlated on a server with the specific equipments providing location data. An upgrade to a Web based system will also be available during the proof of concept.
Imminent upgrades to the tags will increase the data stream to 128 bit and include condition sensors such as temperature and humidity and a GPS version that incorporates the QinetiQ high sensitivity GPS system. These upgrades will increase flexibility enabling individual rather than zoned location tracking.
It also opens the way for remote condition monitoring of equipments that could be directly interfaced with the existing maintenance and supply control systems to further enhance asset management, logistic control and radically improve maintenance strategies.