Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Air Canada Cargo deploys Piece-Level RFID Tracking

William Payne
June 2, 2016
RFID tracking specialist Franwell has announced that Air Canada Cargo is expanding the implementation of large scale RFID cargo and mail tracking across the stations in its network. Montreal Canada and Frankfurt Germany have been installed, while Boston has just been completed with Chicago due to be the station to be completed on the network. The implementation is being carried out by CargoAware, the freight tracking specialist division of Franwell, which is partnering with Jamison RFID, View Technologies and other partners to provide the air cargo services provider with an end-to-end RFID RTLS tracking solution.

Air Canada Cargo is Canada's largest provider of air cargo services, and provides direct shipping to more than 150 cities in Canada, the US and around the world.

The company will use the RFID solution developed and implemented by Franwell to track cargo at the piece level associated to a RFID-tagged ULD.

Freight is tracked as it moves through the warehouse and to and from the tarmac using RAIN RFID (passive UHF) labels, providing real-time, hands-free shipment location updates.

"The RFID solution establishes Air Canada Cargo as an industry leader, and sets a new standard for quality. Tracking shipments at the piece level with this solution will provide us with gains in process efficiency and valuable edge data that will generate enhanced metrics and business intelligence. We can use that information to improve our own operations, and also to provide improved service and shipment visibility to our customers," said Lise-Marie Turpin, Vice-President, Air Canada Cargo.

Warehouse staff use RAIN RFID enabled IATA standards based labels to associate piece level cargo with a specific MAWB, HAWB and ULD. When the pallets are built, overhead Echo smart antennas from View Technologies automatically detect the ULD contents. View Technologies systems are integrated into CargoAware for tracking location within warehouses.

Door portals from Jamison RFID provide real-time tracking information as the pallets move through key doorways in the facility. The RFID data enables real-time piece and ULD lookup via an online dashboard, along with automated ‘last known location change’ messaging to Air Canada’s operational system.

Franwell’s solution combines RAIN RFID technologies, including Jamison RFID’s Mod3 Smart RFID portals used to capture choke-point/pass-through to track cargo movement, long-range Echo smart antennas for real-time piece-level visibility of contents for pallet build automation and validation, and Zebra Technologies RFID printers for a streamlined tagging process.

The solution is integrated with existing Air Canada operational software for data messaging, providing real-time data on location changes and ULD build-up and breakdown of pieces to containers.

As a result of the RFID deployment, Air Canada Cargo expects a marked increase in productivity and higher customer satisfaction levels where the system is deployed.

“Air Canada has taken an industry leadership role in driving piece level tracking and ULD association, using RFID technology. They have defined key benefits, ranging from quality, efficiency and best practice modifications to operations, which also yields a significant ROI,” said Mike Nicometo, Director, CargoAware. “The potential for the visibility provided by the CargoAware solution is amazing, and air cargo is not the only industry it is applicable to.”