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Cimko Cement Plant Loads Up on RFID

The Turkish facility has deployed passive EPC Gen tags and readers to automate the filling of trucks, thus lowering costs and improving the facility's capacity by up to 20 percent.
By Brett Neely
Jun 19, 2009A cement factory in southern Turkey has deployed an RFID-based system to speed the weighing and loading of hundreds of trucks per day.

With so many vehicles using the facility on a daily basis, Cimko Cement's Narli branch is a busy place. Cimko, a joint venture between Turkey's Sanko Holding and Italy's Cementerie Aldo Barbetti, opened the fully automated factory in early 2008.

A Cimko truck ID card contains an Alien Technology EPC Gen 2 RFID tag.
The company's management quickly realized, however, that the loading process was a significant bottleneck in the facility's operations. When trucks entered the grounds, drivers had to exit their vehicles, register with the factory's staff, receive paper-based lading documents, proceed to scales to be weighed and then move into cement silos for loading—a time-intensive set of procedures, according to Erdal Tokat, a Cimko IT project manager.

Therefore, Cimko decided to adopt a passive RFID-based system to manage the flow of trucks through the facility. The company hired Meyer RFID—a Turkish RFID vendor, and a member of the Siemens Solution Provider program—to help it deploy a system built around 24 Siemens RF600 interrogators with 48 antennas.

After the system identifies a truck, an LED panel instructs its driver to the proper loading bay.

"It wasn't easy to use passive RFID in this environment, because the project is huge," says Onur Bayindir, Meyer RFID's general director. The Cimko RFID deployment covers 100,000 square meters (65 acres). While active RFID tags are typically better suited to such a large area, he adds, the €25 ($35) cost per active tag would have been prohibitive in a facility that sometimes sees hundreds of trucks at a time.

Trucks entering the factory now receive a truck ID card containing an Alien Technology ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 EPC RFID tag operating at 866 MHz. The ID cards cost less than €1 ($1.40) apiece, according to Bayindir. The Narli plant keeps 500 cards on hand, in order to handle peaks in demand.

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