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New technology to track luggage

By Eman Al Baik



The world’s busiest international airport is evaluating RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, technology to improve baggage tracking, using Motorola RFID readers as part of a joint project between BAA and Emirates airline.

BAA, owner and operator of Heathrow airport, and Emirates will deploy RFID readers at key points along the journey of luggage flying Emirates between Heathrow and Dubai – from check-in desk to carousel.

As part of the trial, Motorola XR480 Fixed RFID readers have been installed at Heathrow’s Terminal Three to read tags on luggage entering and leaving the airport.

The addition of RFID readers will give BAA more depth of functionality, as it will allow the company to track baggage during parts of its transport where a clear “line of sight” to a bar code is not possible, a statement said. As a result BAA will be able to monitor, sort and locate luggage at every stage of its journey. Furthermore, the EPC Gen2-enabled RFID bag tags allow more data than standard bar-code tag.

Stephen Challis, head of product development at BAA Heathrow, said: “We are excited by this project, which will track bags at every stage of their journey and could improve the efficiency of Heathrow’s baggage system, delivering an improved service to both passengers and airlines alike. Upon successful introduction, and in partnership with the airline community, the technology could be extended across the airport.”

Vic Sheppard, Emirates Vice-President for United Kingdom and Ireland, said: “This trial enables us to embrace the latest technology for the benefit of our customers. The volume of baggage processed at the airports is increasing. It is important to Emirates that we look at innovation and using new baggage handling and tracking systems.”