Going with RFID doesn't mean errors are gone, errors just show up in different places

A common perception is RFID is error free.  Airbus just announced it has an integrated RFID nameplate and in the press announcement is error-proof.

These tags will contribute to value-chain visibility, error-proof identification

Keep in mind the media and marketing folks are not process engineers or software/hardware engineers.  Here is presentation by an Airbus engineer at a conference where errors are discussed.


A lot of things need to happen that people don’t think about.  Now you could argue that this was a test.  But with 51% error rate, how long will it take the error rate to be below 0.1%?  To get lower error rates you need to put in audit systems to find errors and reconcile them.

One of the problems Airbus and I think Boeing has is they are storing data on the RFID tags which by the way is the craziest damn idea.  Now it may seem like a good idea to store the data on the device.  Imagine having 10,000 eventually 100,0000 or 1,000,000 RFID tags with data stored on them, syncing the data from all those devices will create a data management nightmare.  Tags get damaged.  Remote devices don’t sync data.  They get bad data written to them.  How do you handle security access to write data to the device.  Read from the device.  Can just anyone walk into an airplane equipment and collecting data on the devices that respond to RFID?  Secure organizations prohibit USB devices.

Even though I am discussing RFID, many of these same issues apply to any kind of monitoring system.  Errors exist in all kinds of systems.  To reduce errors no different than reducing downtimes at some point can be addressed with redundancy.  Having multiple data feeds for the same thing reduces the chance of errors.