For decades the aviation, aerospace, and defense industries have struggled to increase the efficiency of their supply chain. To date, the vast majority of proposed solutions have not made a lasting impact; they fail entirely or complicate issues by populating the industry with non-integrated systems. Despite past experience and a general distaste with current mandates, these industries are searching for an “across-the-board” improvement to the systems used to manage, move, and track inventory.
I am responsible for marketing for one of the world’s largest parts locator and data exchanges — managing more than 16,000 end users and representing more than 3,700 clients. Via this position I am afforded a unique opportunity to see the results of previous solutions and witness new attempts to streamline and consolidate supply chain management technology, systems, and processes.
Of all the technology solutions used by major defense and airline suppliers and buyers, RFID holds the greatest potential to achieve the goals of the aviation, aerospace, and defense industries in consolidating supply chain management solutions and processes.
We must, however, avoid being blinded by the technology itself and understand there is more to be done to meet the consolidation demands of the aviation, aerospace, and defense industries. Yet, without broad adoption and understanding of RFID it may fail entirely, or simply fail to permeate deeply enough to create a true “revolution.”
Too Many Solutions Providers
There are a vast number of solutions providers and an equally large number of differing views on RFID — how to sell it and how to implement it. Complicating this are numerous new players entering the space.
Through my experience with the Department of Defense, Boeing, and Airbus as well as nearly all their suppliers, I see an absolute necessity for a relatively small number of solutions providers to emerge as RFID industry leaders. Clear leaders with proven track records need to emerge in relatively short order to avoid confusion as non-integrated systems prevent the desired pervasive adoption of RFID.
Those of us that work with RFID day in and day out see the immediate and long term impacts it can have on a client’s business. Unfortunately, in speaking to high level individuals at defense contractors and organizations, I fear the industry is a long way from the same conclusion.
The fierce competition between Boeing and Airbus has been set aside to hasten the benefits of RFID. They understand that without full integration, fully permeated industry adoption, and ROI understanding RFID will not work in the long term for the aviation, aerospace, and defense industries.
Definitive supply chain partnering and strategy development is becoming critical. These partnerships will allow the proper and rapid education of vendors and buyers about where the RFID ROI will show itself and how it will change their business forever and for the better. Without it, slap and ship will be the only solution and RFID’s true potential may fall by the wayside.