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Georgia Ports Authority Hopes RFID Will Boost Efficiency, Throughput

The Port of Savannah's new system includes 915 MHz active RFID tags, OCR and 125 kHz underground inductive loops to identify and locate trucks and their cargo containers.
By Beth Bacheldor
Apr 11, 2007The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is set to begin installing RFID technology at the Port of Savannah, to track shipments being brought in and out of the port. The RFID technology will help increase safety in and around the port and improve the visibility of shipments coming from or going to Wal-Mart, Target and other companies.

The implementation will include Identec Solutions' long-range active 915 MHz RFID tags and interrogators, which use a proprietary air-interface protocol, as well as a new product called the Identec i-Mark, an underground 125 kHz inductive loops to document the position and time a truck enters a lane. The system will also utilize Navis' Edge Manager middleware to collect and manage data culled from RFID and other technologies and pass it along to other Navis applications currently used by the GPA. These applications include SPARCS (a core terminal-planning and control system), Express (a system for managing bookings, billing and other transactions) and WebAccess (a Web-based software portal used by GPA's customers to check container status, as well as book delivery and pickup appointments).

In addition, the project will incorporate optical character-recognition (OCR) software from SAIC. The GPA and its partners have already begun installing the various hardware and software. Mike Dempsey, VP and general manager of Navis' Edge Technology Solutions, expects the project to go live sometime this summer.

The implementation is part of the GPA's ongoing initiative to help its terminal operators collect real-time information on RFID-tagged containers so they can provide their customers—U.S. logistics companies, retailers and product suppliers—greater levels of efficiency, real-time visibility and condition statistics for containerized cargo.

"We are doing this for efficiency's sake," says Bill Sutton, the GPA's general manager of information technology. "Our growth pattern here is significant, and we are trying to find ways to move more cargo. This project is purely about how can we be as efficient as we can, so we can move as much cargo as we can, as efficiently and as cost-effectively as we can."

The GPA has already been testing RFID for several months, albeit on a smaller scale. The agency has worked with the Maritime Logistics Innovation Center (MLIC), a state program designed to facilitate collaboration between private industry, academia—such as the Georgia Institute of Technology—and federal and state agencies (see Georgia Cargo Terminals Becoming RFID-Enabled). That project leverages Savi Networks' SaviTrak, an RFID-enabled global container shipment-tracking service. Savi Networks is a joint venture of RFID systems provider Savi Technology and seaport operator Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH).

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