RFID technology: applications for the Aerospace and Energy Industries

The maturity of the RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) technology allows today to glimpse concrete applications in advanced industrial sectors such as Nuclear, Chemical / Petrochemical, Aerospace, Automotive, etc. Submitted to strong environmental constraints usually incompatible with wireless technologies, RFID technology is now hardened to allow industrial applications.

Industrial applications are made possible through a hardened RFID technology

Temperature, dust, metal, chemical products (and many others) are omnipresent elements in all sectors of industry and particularly in Energy and Aerospace. These elements are all disturbing factors for wireless technologies including RFID. 

Also, these industries are sometimes submitted to regulations and standards, adapted to their environmental constraints: ATEX (explosive atmosphere), EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility), Seveso (Directive 96/82/EC), etc. These regulations and standards require the use of certified compatible materials in these areas, which requires RFID tags and RFID readers to also be.

Several RFID hardware providers offer ATEX certified products for example: Xerafy, Omni-ID, NEXESS, Ecom Instruments, etc. (These products are available in our shop Nexess Online Shop).

Nexess has know-how and expertise recognized in the field of hardened RFID for industrial environments.

RFID applications in Energy sector

Power plant RFID technology

The Energy sector (Nuclear, Petrochemical, Chemical, etc.) is one of the most regulated and forced to ensure the safety of goods and people. RFID technology has its place and allows to consider multiple applications:

  • Traceability of materials submitted to regulation

From tools to fire equipments (fire extinguishers, RIA, SCBA) through spare parts, each of these materials is submitted to strict regulation and scrupulous monitoring in Energy industries.

RFID technology allows to make a unique and automatic identification (without vis-à-vis) of each of these materials, “connecting” them to their environment via an RFID tagThis RFID tag will be adapted to the environmental constraints in which it is submitted: metal, temperature, ATEX regulations, etc. In some cases, it may contain information (high memory tag).

A RFID mobile or fixe reader (PDA, tablet or smartphone) will allow to interrogate RFID tags remotely to know its characteristics or automatically detect movements (inventory, entrance / exit of a storage location, etc.). In case of portable reader, the user has a software plateform allowing him to interact with materials.

Fire equipment RFID technology

Examples of materials submitted to regulation: 

  • Fire Equipment
  • Slings and lifting equipements
  • Container
  • Spare Parts
  • Etc.

Nexess has an extensive library of software applications to ensure traceability and monitoring equipment submitted to regulation.

  • Reassurance of Operations and Maintenance activities

Energy industry requires rigorous operation and maintenance intervention to ensure optimum operational working performance but also a high level of safety of goods and persons.

RFID technology allows to make significant gains on Operating and Maintenance activities in terms of productivity, quality but also security.

Oil&Gas RFID technology

Examples of Operations or Maintenance activities using RFID in Energy:

  • Round lubrication (Pumps, Valves, etc.)
  • Repairs and Non Destructive Testing of Piping
  • Securing facilities by laying valves
  • Etc.

RFID applications in Aerospace Industry

Aeronautic RFID technology

The aerospace industry is recognized as one of the industry where manufacturing, assembly and maintenance process of equipment are strictest and the most rigorous. Production rates are very high and the quality must be maintained at its highest level. 

RFID technology allows to bring significant productivity gains thanks to the optimization of the supply chain but also gains of quality thanks to the control of capital goods. Here comes some common applications:

  • Management and traceability of tools

The tool is an essential means of production during assembly steps or during aircraft maintenance. It is submitted to regulations (calibration, maintenance) and requires special attention to fight against FOD (Foreign Object Damage) due to a miss tool in a part of the plane. 

Tool management is also a critical activity that can strongly impact productivity: tools research, loan / return, daily inventory, etc.

RFID technology allows a unique identification of each tool, an automatic following of movements, to detect tools remotly, trace their use, etc. via RFID cabinets for example (video).

NexCap XL RFID cabinet

Examples of tools in Aeronautics:

  • Hand tools
  • Torque Tools
  • Pneumatic Tools
  • Etc.

Nexess has the expertise and a range of products dedicated to the management and traceability of tools with RFID in Aerospace: RFID cabinets, RFID portals, RFID counters, Mobile readers (PDA).

  • Aircraft Cabin Management: Inventory of  security equipment (life jackets, O2 bottles)

Imposed by the regulations, each aircraft must have a regular inventory and update of all security equipment on board: life jackets, oxygen bottles, etc. This inventory, made by airlines technicians must allow to know in an instant if all equipments are on board and if their validity are correct. 

RFID technology allows to fit each of these equipments with RFID tags called “flyables” tags answering to the standards of Aerospace (ATA SPEC 2000) and containing information related to the equipment (manufacturer, expiration date, etc.. ). Using a mobile reader (PDA, tablet), technicians carry out an inventory of the cabin in few minutes, while this activity required 2 to 3 hours.

aircraft cabin RFID

(High-Memory RFID tags are available in our shop Nexess Online Shop)

The list of applications of RFID technology for the Aerospace industry is not exhaustive but we may include other examples:

  • Management and Traceability of GSE (Ground Support Equipment)
  • Monitoring of raw materials (rolls Carbone)
  • Management and tracking of containers (Maintenance Kit)
  • Etc.