Lessons from the Aircraft Industry
The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority estimates that each year 2% of the 26 million parts installed on airplanes are counterfeit. So to prevent fatalities, in 1998, the U.S. Coast Guard and government agencies began to mark “safety critical parts” with Data Matrix codes to authenticate the pedigree of parts. (Visit www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2004/04-106.html for details.)
This approach has not only successfully curtailed counterfeit part–related accidents, but the economic savings of improved inventory control have caused manufacturers to extend such bar coding to a preponderance of noncritical parts.
Now that the bar codes are in place, studies are under way to improve logistics even further by adding RFID to track parts in warehouses. (Visit www.zdnetasia.com/news/communications/0,39044192,61996353,00.htm for details.)