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Global Logistics Provider Deploys Battery-Assisted RFID Systems

Since the systems need to track pallets of goods containing RF-unfriendly liquids and metals, the company chose battery-assisted tags to achieve the high reads required by clients in France.
By Jonathan Collins
Jul 13, 2006French RFID systems integrator NBG-ID, based in Cavaillon, says it has developed two pilots in France, each of which is set for wide-scale RFID deployment for a top-three global logistics provider. Both projects involve battery-assisted RFID labels supplied by Israeli-based RFID equipment provider PowerID.

The pilots, running concurrently, started in July of last year and have since been expanded into the first stages of deployment within the logistics provider's operations. Both were designed, deployed and managed by NBG-ID, and together use tens of thousands of PowerID L-1010 UHF labels. Each label includes an on-board battery—to help awaken and power the tag's chip when it is placed within a reader field—as well as an antenna optimized for backscattering a signal. This design has helped both projects achieve a tag read rate higher than what would have been possible using passive tags.


The pallet RFID tags are read at reader gates at the dock door of the distribution center.
"Passive tags can be good or bad, depending on the pallet loads they were attached to, but we needed to deliver a system with very high and reliable read rates," says Bruno Fabre, CEO of NBG-ID.

One of the projects tracks pallets loaded with alcoholic beverages stored in a secure section of a distribution center operated by the logistics provider. The other tracks pallets of mixed groceries from the moment they leave the logistic provider's distribution centers until they are delivered to a client's retail stores.

The PowerID L-1010 UHF labels used in both trials contain read-only tags pre-encoded with unique EPC numbers. These tags are compliant with the proprietary iP-X air-interface protocol developed by Ipico and are made with EM Microelectronic chips, encoded by the firm during manufacturing. The pilots also use PowerID readers, which are modified versions of UHF readers from SAMsys, now owned by Sirit.

In the project involving alcoholic beverages, a forklift fitted with a specially housed RFID reader and antenna reads PowerID tags placed on loaded pallets and also on the bins where the pallets are stored. With both the pallets and the bins tagged, an application connected to the forklift reader can track exactly which pallet is in which bin. The pallets and bins are located within a secure area that houses around 4,000 storage bins, although so far only about a third of them have been tagged. During the tagging process, NBG ID's software cross-references the EPC number on the tag with an asset (i.e., a pallet or bin).

USER COMMENTS

William Isbell 2006-07-20 09:55:57 AM
Size of RFID tags Can you tell me the approximate size of the battery-powered tags? Dr. William Isbell bvisbell@cox.net

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