One of the many challenges airlines have is keeping track of all their galley carts as they move all over the world.  It might be easier if airlines owned and managed all the kitchen facilities that stock the galley carts, but this was something that long ago was out sourced to third parties because they could do it far more cost effectively than the airline. The task of identifying and counting galley carts would be difficult enough if they were all sitting still – large US airlines can have upwards of 80,000 galley carts.  The task is immensely more difficult because carts are constantly on the move to all corners of the globe. 

A galley cart can cost $700 so each one is given a unique ID to keep track of it.  That’s only helpful if someone wanted to chase each one down and write down the ID number.  Barcoding each cart only prevent the typos when a person is writing numbers down, but barcode is a visual technology so one still needs to see/touch each cart to even barcode read the ID number.

What has proven to be a better solution is to use RFID technology to uniquely identify each galley cart.  This can be done during the manufacturing process or as a legacy part marking process used by airlines to uniquely ID their existing assets if they were not labeled that way previously, as per the ATA Spec2000 industry data standard.  Why is using RFID technology so much better than a barcode approach? Simply because of the process that Technology Solutions and Aerospace Software Developments (ASD) developed called Transparent Data Collection®.  Their combination of RFID hardware and software allow carts to be tracked without a single data transaction being done by a human!

Unlike barcodes, RFID technology allows data to be read at a long distance and without line-of-site.  RFID can also read many thousands of tags each minute.  This allows galley carts to be easily read as groups of carts are offloaded from a catering truck and rolled into a kitchen facility.  Each cart is automatically read using a fixed reader, and that particular cart is then logged into that kitchen facility with a location, date/time stamp and the ID of the cart.  Using user-defined rules in RFIDAeroTrack, the cart is then reported if it does not come out of the facility within the designated period of time (e.g., 72 hours) or if it is moved aside for repair.  Automated alerts can be sent to the facility manager and/or to the asset owner using the automated escalation process built into RFIDAeroTrack.

The real benefit of this automated asset tracking is not knowing where an individual cart is but if there are enough carts to accommodate the flight schedule.  Kitchens have a natural tendency to keep extra carts on site so they never get caught short, but when every kitchen does that it adds up to a lot of asset that is being wasted.  To automatically have accurate data available makes the food planner’s job immensely easier – forever in the past planners has been working off old data, bad data, or no data at all.  This caused them to make plans which could not be fulfilled and caused stress throughout the business process.  With TDC (Transparent Data Collection) applied to galley cart tracking this will be problem no more!

The beauty of managing your business with TDC is the data is available to all interested parites.  In parallel, all levels of the business can improve at the same time – the local kitchen manager, the regional catering manager, and the corporate Director who is responsible for not delaying flights related to any catering issue.  Simple asset visibility allows the entire system, from top to bottom, to avoid bad decisions that affect the operations.

The RFID tags developed for this galley cart application withstand the rigors of the environment, will not be objected to by the airline cabin appearance team, can be pressure washed and steam cleaned without affecting the tag, and is the permanent ID of that particular cart for cradle-to-grave traceability.  Tags can either be low memory type with just the Birth Record data, or can be medium or high memory tags that contain the entire history of the part.

More information about the RFID galley cart solution can be obtained by contacting Technology Solutions +1(510) 531-2201 or [email protected] .  We would be glad to arrange a Webex to demonstrate how the system works.