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Container Centralen to Monitor Millions of Crates

The Dutch container company is using Oracle's EPCIS-compliant system to improve supply-chain visibility in its operations.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 25, 2006Dutch container management company Container Centralen is piloting an Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) RFID data-management system to track the movement of its clients' 20 million containers throughout the Netherlands. Container Centralen manages crates carrying produce from suppliers through distribution centers to retail sites and back again.

EPCIS, currently a candidate standard (see Interop Tests Bring EPCIS Closer to Standard), serves as a communication mechanism between applications and data repositories so companies can effectively exchange and query data from within their own RFID processes, and with partners. Currently, Container Centralen has no easy way to locate crates as they move from suppliers to stores. "The business requirements for [this RFID] system were mainly around supply-chain visibility of the crates," says Charles Willemsen, Benelux area manager for Container Centralen. "Right now, containers are only counted as they move from one location to another. There is no information about which crates, exactly, are moving from one place to another. And, therefore, there is no information about cycle times of the containers, or understanding of repair cycles."

The EPCIS-compliant solution aims to rectify that problem. Oracle is providing the software that will store the time, date and location of a container's tag read, associated with unique EPC numbers for each container in a secure database on the Internet. Capgemini will then use that data to provide Container Centralen with a supply-chain visibility analysis. Container Centralen can provide all its supply-chain partners—farmers, distributors and retailers—with access to pertinent data in the EPCIS database via the Web, says Peggy Chen, principal product director of Oracle RFID and Sensor-Based Services. Container Centralen and its customers can find out, for instance, the average turnover rates per crate, occasions when crates deviate from that average and how long a crate is held in any specific location.

In addition, the container-management company can restrict how much data is available to specific business groups. As a result, crate information can be shared without disclosing other supply-chain data from a retail operation.

Container Centralen is tagging its crates with UHF Gen 2 RFID tags. The EPCIS-compliant solution is built on Oracle Fusion Middleware. The system uses Oracle Sensor Data Manager—part of the Oracle Sensor Edge Server, which manages all the RFID and sensor data collected at various locations. The data manager includes the EPCIS-compliant Information Services database, which stores information about where and when a container traveled throughout the supply chain, as well as Discovery Services for searching the data.

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