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HK airport awards RFID baggage tag contract

Carol Ko | May 8, 2009
Average RFID baggage tag reading rate increased from 80 to 97 per cent

HONG KONG, 8 MAY 2009 Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has awarded a three-year contract for 70 million radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled IATA standard 21 inches (53 cm) baggage tracking tags.

The contract was awarded to Motorola, a communications technology provider, which partnered RFID specialist Avery Dennison RFID and Print-O-Tape, a manufacturer of pressure sensitive label products and raw materials. All three are US-based companies.

HKIA was one of the pioneer airports to adopt RFID technology, which enhanced the reliability and efficiency of its baggage handling system. Opened in 1998, HKIA is an international and regional aviation centre connecting more than 150 cities around the world, including some 40 destinations in the Chinese mainland. In 2008, about 48.6 million passengers travelled through HKIA.

To maintain its position as a premier regional and international aviation centre, HKIA is committed to providing our passengers with pleasant, hassle-free services and state-of-the-art facilities. The application of RFID is also another testament to our continuous efforts to achieve service excellence, said C. K. Ng, deputy director, airport operations, Airport Authority Hong Kong. We awarded the contract to Motorola because of the proven track record of reliability, and the outstanding quality of its support.

Misdirected bags reduced

Unlike barcode-only tags, which require the scanner to be in the line of sight to read the tag, the Electronic Product Code Generation 2-enabled RFID bag tags can be read at long distances and without direct contact.

The RFID system is also more reliable, achieving average reading rates of more than 97 per cent, versus 80 per cent from a barcode-only system. As a result, RFID tags allow more accurate tracking of baggage through HKIA's baggage system.

By empowering timely and accurate checked bag deliveries to the planes, airlines and passengers experience more on-time departures. In addition, the system reduces misdirected bags resulting in improved customer service.

HKIA currently tags passenger bags in multiple locations, including check-in counters in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, in-town check-in desks in Kowloon Station and Hong Kong Station of Airport Express, and upstream check-in facilities in the Pearl River Delta area. Today, there are more than 70 airlines involved in this programme.

Hardware and implementation

HKIA awarded a three-year contract to Motorola, with an option for a fourth year, extending their longstanding relationship. Motorola was instrumental in scoping the original business case, supplying hardware and tags, and implementing the first RFID project at Hong Kong International Airport in 2005.

HKIA uses Motorola's XR400 and AR400 fixed RFID readers, Motorola MC9090-G RFID handheld mobile computers, and will now utilise Generation-2 baggage tags supplied by this partnership. 


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