[See also: Photo story - Terminal 3 RFID trial]
BAA and Emirates Airline have launched the largest radio frequency identification (RFID) baggage trial which could reduce the number of misread bags at Heathrow airport.
The £150,000 trial will test the effectiveness of RFID against the airport’s existing barcode tracking system.
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.
It is expected to track around 50,000 bags per for passengers travelling with Emirates to Dubai and transferring through Heathrow.
Stephen Challis, Head of Product Development at BAA said the project could “significantly improve the efficiency of Heathrow’s baggage system, delivering an improved service to both passengers and airlines alike.”
Heathrow has begun a six month trial of RFID technology for Emirates passengers. The system, which tracks bags at every stage of their journey, claims to be a UK first. A duplicate of the Heathrow system has been installed at Dubai airport.
“The volume of baggage processed at airports is increasing, with more people flying around the world each year,” said Vic Sheppard, Emirates vice president for UK and Ireland. “It is important to Emirates to look at innovation and new baggage handling and tracking systems.”
RFID equipment has been installed at nine Emirates check in desks. Staff will apply tags containing RFID chips to bags as part of the normal check in process. The chips contain stored information, including the passengers name and route.
Departing passengers will be invited by BAA staff to voluntarily register their mobile phone details, which will enable them to receive a text message alert on arrival at Heathrow with details of their baggage re-claim belt.
The tags will continue to display the traditional barcode in addition to the embedded RFID chips as part of the trial.
See also: Terminal 3 RFID trial - photo story