The rise of electronic bag tags

Ink Innovation experts ideate on engineering a new generation of electronic bag tags for airport operations

The rise of electronic bag tags
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In the ever-evolving air travel landscape, the demand for a frictionless airport experience is at an all-time high. Yurik Schwab, Head of Ink’s Hardware division, and Julian Kohlmetz, a Senior Developer at Ink Innovation, look into how bag-tagging and tracking technologies are pivotal in meeting these demands and enhancing airport operations.

Streamlining the passenger journey

Passengers want their airport experience to be increasingly connected. Achieving this involves more than just smooth check-ins; it includes efficiently managing necessary steps like excess baggage charges without causing inconvenience. Current bag tagging solutions, whether paper or electronic, have been pivotal. However, not all electronic tags are equal.

"Many only digitise the tag creation process, while others add tracking capabilities," Yurik explains. Passengers taking tracking into their own hands by using devices such as AirTags have created conflicts with airline procedures, sometimes leading to outright bans.

The future lies in embracing these technologies. "Airlines will eventually need to work with automated tag issuance, self-service, and tracking," states Yurik.

Minimising baggage errors

Despite technological advancements, baggage transportation errors and delays will always occur, but outdated industry standards do not help resolve them. Julian points out that accurate real-time data and the ability to act swiftly on it can rectify many of these issues. Legacy systems like 10-digit licence plates and 1D barcodes hinder progress. "Industry standards are actually a contributory factor," says Julian. These outdated systems embed unnecessary costs that a more agile approach could eliminate.

Adopting modern logistics technology is the way forward. "Technology that is already widespread in logistics can quickly transform baggage operations," asserts Yurik. While initiatives like IATA753 are steps in the right direction, the industry needs to catch up with modern edge devices and advanced data management systems to improve the tracking, custody, and rerouting of baggage.

Bringing electronic baggage tags into the mainstream

Integrating advanced bag-tagging and tracking technologies is crucial for creating a frictionless airport experience. Ink has been doing R&D on how to make electronic tags the mainstream.

"We believe the proposition to switch to electronic tags is not only about the tag itself. We can already see the need for an ecosystem around what a modern tag makes possible," shares Yurik.

Julian adds, "We've looked at tracking and RFID (radio frequency identification) in detail. Even though they are known as electronic tags, when they are done well, they are actually IoT devices."

High-quality RFID tags offer more sophisticated features and connectivity than basic electronic tags. With more accurate data, airlines will benefit from real-time baggage tracking, better baggage handling, timely updates, and streamlined operations. These advancements ensure that the right bags are on the right plane and even where they are loaded.

The main obstructions to wide adoption are the cost of tag purchase and modernising infrastructure. The right component configuration, supporting old processes while simplifying the introduction of newer tech, will make the wider business case for modernising tags. The business case cannot be made with hardware alone, but a more modern edge device is an essential step.

About the Author

Elena is the Chief Marketing Officer of Ink Innovation. She is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and execution of marketing initiatives as well as leading media relations and corporate communications.

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