Hardware tech lapse causes revenue loss in aviation sector
Lapses in the nation’s hardware manufacturing industry may have become a major concern for the local airlines, which are enmeshed in yearly payment of over $46 million as compensation due to lack of technology for tracking luggage, analysts say.
Consequently, the whopping amount for the lost baggage claims could serve as a compelling force as well as a window of opportunity for the Nigerian tech space to focus on manufacturing these hardware technologies that could reduce the loss of luggage to its barest minimum.
RFID uses electromagnet fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. This allows customers to track their luggage throughout their travel, the tags are scanned whilst on the conveyor belt on their way into the aircraft and an alarm goes off for them to be redirected if the baggage does not belong on that flight.
Femi Longe, director at Co-Creation Hub, Yaba Lagos, told BusinessDay that most of the technology experts in Nigeria are focused on software development and not hardware and so, Nigeria may have to import RFID hardware technology for its local airlines to reduce the amount of missing luggages and airline expenditure on passenger compensation for lost luggage claims.
“Most of the geeks and inventors in the technology hub and in Nigeria at large, are software experts and even the ones that do hardware are more into electrical and not electronics,” he said.
Prior to the introduction of this technology to Delta Airlines, which also flies from Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States of America, Australia’s Qantas Airline has used RFID to track bags. However, the American carrier says no other carrier has implemented an RFID tracking programme with its specific kind of technology on this scale.
As foreign airline systems, including Delta Airline, introduce RFID on bag tags which automatically identify and track tags, Nigeria may not be able to gain the full benefits of this technology as the country’s technology industry is currently focused on software development, thus neglecting hardware manufacturing of computer and tracking devices such as the RFID.
Last year, delayed, damaged and stolen bags cost the air transport industry a total of $2.3 billion in Europe, according to SITA, an aviation communication and technology company which tracks baggage performance.
According to International Air Transportation Association, (IATA), passengers on international flights are entitled to an average of 46-60kilograms of checked in luggage. For missing baggage, airlines are to pay a sum of $20 per kilogramme.
For the year 2015, international and domestic airlines paid approximately $46m for the 38,175 cases of missing luggage emanating from flights originating from, or terminating in Nigeria.
Considering the amount of money spent each year on compensation and the loss of valuable, personal items of travellers within and outside Nigeria, industry experts think it wise for the RFID technology to be introduced in Nigerian airlines.
“We have to begin to look for a way to start manufacturing the basic components needed and there are a certain number of things that must be in place to help us begin that step of producing basic components,” Pius Okigbo, former president of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), told BusinessDay.
“There are certain components we need to have to manufacture the things we need. For example, electricity is very important. The manufacturing of electronic components in Nigeria would still be a bit of a challenge because there are some things that are required like power, which is an absolute necessity.
For some of these equipment, you cannot afford a power outage. We need 24 hours electricity generation, so until we can get steady power, then the government can begin to enforce the kind of electronics that can be manufactured locally,” Okigbo added. Lagos shuts section of Oko Oba abattoir
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