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Westgate Logistics Focuses on RFID

To meet the needs of Colgate-Palmolive, Target and other customers, the Australian company seeks to be at the forefront of the testing and implementation of the technology.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jul 17, 2007Following a successful RFID pilot with multiple business partners using RFID to track shipments of wooden pallets in Australia, Westgate Logistics, a unit of the Salta Westgate Group in Port Melbourne, Victoria, says it is planning further RFID tests involving the tracking of customers' products across the supply chain.

Founded in 1971 as Westgate Storage as a provider of logistics and supply-chain services, the company currently maintains 16 warehouses throughout Australia. It has more than 1,000 employees working in pick-and-pack operations, and operates more than 400 vehicles delivering products directly to stores and distribution centers. Among its many customers are consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive, retailer Target Australia and supermarket giant Woolworths' HomeShop home delivery service—all companies with an interest in RFID, according to George Lerias, national manager of Westgate's logistics solutions group.

"Our customers believe the implementation of an RFID solution is a natural progression in lower costs and improving data flow in the supply chain," Lerias says. "In turn, our customer base necessitates that Westgate Logistics is at the forefront of the testing and implementation of this technology."

Known as the National EPC Network Demonstrator Project Extension, the pilot was managed by GS1 Australia, a branch of international standards-setting organization GS1, in cooperation with RMIT University in Melbourne. According to Lerias, the trial provided Westgate Logistics with "the perfect opportunity to further understand and test [RFID] with experienced partners with the technical know-how and resources to undergo such a pilot" (see Australian Companies Say Pallet-Tracking Project Proves RFID's Mettle).

Participants consisted of CHEP, ACCO Australia, Capilano Honey, Franklins Australia, Procter & Gamble, Linfox and MasterFoods, as well as service providers Telstra and Retriever Communications.

Westgate Logistics provided a warehouse site for the pilot in Yennora, New South Wales. Stacks of empty wooden pallets, fitted with EPC Class 1 Gen 2 RFID tags, were received at the warehouse, documented via four RFID antennas and an interrogator at the dispatch door, and sent on to CHEP's facility in Erskine Park, New South Wales. The RFID reads were captured and communicated via Westgate Logistics' Cisco local area network to a secure Internet site, on which pilot participants could view the data.

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