John-Paul Kamath visited Heathrow's Terminal 3 to document the BAA and Emirates Airline RFID baggage trial.
It is hoped that the £150,000 trial, the largest of its kind, will reduce the number of misread bags at the airport, and demonstrate an improvement compared with the airport’s existing barcode tracking system.
These photographs show some of the main stages in the RFID baggage-tracking process.
Heathrow Terminal 3 will spend £150,000 trialling Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for six months to see if it reduces the number of misread bags over existing barcode methods.
Emirates Airline will participate in the trail and expects to track 50,000 bags per month. “The volume of baggage processed at airports is increasing with more people around the world flying each year,” said Vic Sheppard, Emirates vice president for UK and Ireland. “Because of this, it is important to Emirates that we look at innovation and using new baggage handling and tracking systems.”
The chips are read as they pass through Heathrow’s baggage system, and is expected to enable better sorting, security screening and delivery to the aircraft. Arriving bags are read on entry to the baggage system and receipted in a computer system for effective tracking.
The chips contain stored information including the passengers name and route. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags do not require line of sight contact with a laser, which can sometimes misread barcodes if they are crumpled or torn.
Departing passengers will be invited by BAA staff to voluntarily register their mobile telephone details, which will enable them to receive a text message alert on arrival at Heathrow with details of their baggage reclaim belt.