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Nisa-Today's DC Uses RFID to Secure Trailers

Using a system of active and passive RFID tags, the U.K. grocery consortium identifies truck drivers, discourages theft and knows if a trailer loaded with goods has been tampered with.
By Rhea Wessel
Nov 24, 2006Nisa-Today's , the United Kingdom's largest grocery buying and distribution consortium of independent retailers and wholesalers, is operating an RFID-based system to increase security for loaded trailers while they wait for pickup in the yard and while they are in transit.

The security system is based on reusable RFID electronic seals that are placed on each trailer. The seals, supplied by Unisto Electronic Seals (formerly Encrypta), generate four-digit random numbers every time they are closed and record the time and date of each opening and closing in the seal's memory.

Unisto's Mark Hayward
This allows operators to verify that the load has not been tampered with by checking to make sure the original seal number recorded after the loading of the trailer at Nisa-Today's distribution center, operated by Re-vision Logistics, on behalf of Bibby Distribution, has remained unchanged while the trailer has been stored in the yard or while a driver is on the road.

Each seal's ID and closing serial numbers are collected automatically when an active RFID tags, Crypta Data Tag, embedded in the seal is read by one of the interrogators positioned around the trailer yard and at the gatehouse at the entrance to the yard.

The system helps expedite deliveries of 1.2 million cases of goods each week because the opening and closing times of the seals can be compared with each day's routing schedule to find out about potential delivery delays. If the system indicates that a trailer has not been delivered and opened at the expected time, operators of the system can contact the driver to find out why there has been a delay.

Theft of high-value but small items such as cigarettes or alcohol continues to be a problem at busy distribution centers, and the e-seals are helping to reduce it. Re-vision Logistics wanted to detect if people were stealing from the trailers in the parked in the yard.

"If a trailer is opened in the yard, then its ID and the fact that it has been opened comes up at the gatehouse," says Mark Hayward, sales and marketing director of Unisto.

Nisa-Today's recently built a new 625,000-square-foot distribution center in the Foxhills Industrial Park in Scunthorpe in the United Kingdom and renewed its partnership with Bibby, which manages the contract for Nisa-Today's DC. To improve onsite security at the new DC, which opened in October of last year, Bibby purchased and implemented a trailer seal application for 150 trailers. The onsite security application, called YardTrak, is an extension of Unisto's GateSuite system Bibby was already using to track and manage trailers leaving the yard (see Encrypta's GateSuite Provides On-Site Security). Bibby spent around 175,000 British pounds on the system.

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