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U.K. Company Finds RFID Chemically Attractive

Industrial Chemical Ltd. has adopted a UHF system from CoreRFID to manage its reusable containers, helping the manufacturer to save money and meet environmental regulations.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 02, 2015

U.K. chemical company Industrial Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) is employing a radio frequency identification solution provided by CoreRFID to record when its reusable containers leave its facilities and are returned by customers, as well as track their condition. This has enabled the firm to improve efficiency, while ensuring that damaged or out-of-date containers are not used to ship chemicals. Workers are accomplishing this goal by using an RFID handheld with a built-in camera to read passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 RFID tags on the containers as they leave and are returned, and to take pictures of any damage.

The company is currently preparing to use the RFID solution to conduct full inventory counts of its containers.

Industrial Chemical Ltd. mounted an Omni-ID Exo 600 tag to the top of each IBC's metal cage.
ICL makes packaged chemicals for water treatment, as well as detergents and other products, at six different plants across the United Kingdom. It ships those products to customers throughout the country in intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), which it leaves behind on the customers' premises, and pump-over bins (metal vessels designed to pump their contents into customers' tanks), which are not left behind. An IBC consists of a 1,000-liter (264-gallon) tank supported by a protective metal frame. The company began using IBCs four years ago, and now has more than 6,000 of them listed on its software database altogether, with a combined value in excess of £500,000 ($747,000).

ICL's Darren Sharp
"The market for packaged chemicals is massive," says Darren Sharpe, Industrial Chemicals Ltd.'s energy projects manager. "ICL has always been a bulk delivery company and, in 2011, wanted to expand into the packaged market, especially following the construction of our chlor-alkali plant, which meant that the core packaged products—sodium hypochlorite, caustic soda and hydrochloric acid—are manufactured in-house."

The IBCs were a significant investment for the company, Sharpe says. However, they could be difficult to track as they entered and left its six British facilities, he notes, as well as its customers' sites.

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