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Parma's RFID Lab Plans Pork Pilot

The Italian project will track packaged meat at the factory, distribution center and retail store, in an effort to quantify the benefits of using RFID and EPCglobal services in the fast-moving consumer goods supply chain.
By Rhea Wessel
Oct 26, 2007The RFID Lab at the University of Parma is designing a pilot to test EPCglobal-compliant hardware throughout the supply chain, as well as EPCglobal's Discovery Services. The RFID Logistics Pilot, as it is officially known, will reach the operational testing phase early next year.

This will be the first Italian pilot in the fast-moving consumer goods supply chain, says Antonio Rizzi, the founder and head of the RFID Lab. More than a dozen manufacturers, retailers and third-party logistics providers, as well as universities and technology partners, will participate in the project, which has a budget of €280,000 ($396,000), all privately funded.

The goal of the project is to quantify the benefits of using RFID to trace products throughout the supply chain, and to determine how the use of EPCglobal services—such as Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS), Object Name Services (ONS) and Discovery Services—can optimize supply chain processes. Project members will tag more than 20,000 product cases as they move from the manufacturer to a warehouse or distribution center, then on to one or more retail stores.

Last year, the University of Parma's RFID Lab successfully tested equipment, hardware and software, and sought approval to begin testing RFID systems in a real-world environment. More than a dozen companies belonging to the lab's board approved the request by endorsing the ongoing logistics pilot, which launched in June 2007 and will run until mid 2008.

In the first phase of the trial, partners mapped current supply chain processes to "re-engineer" them for RFID. The project then moved to the implementation phase, in which the hardware and software infrastructure is currently being set up. The experimental phase is due to begin in early spring 2008, and will last at least four months. In this stage, product pallets and cases will be RFID-tagged and tracked throughout the supply chain.

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