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Rewe Deploying Long-Range Real-Time Location RFID System
At its DC in Buttenheim, Germany, the retailer is deploying Mojix's STAR technology to help reduce the loss of pallets and other returnable transport items, as well as automate their management.
Sep 08, 2009—Rewe Group, a European retail and food group that reported approximately €50 billion ($72 billion) in revenue in 2008, has completed a test in which it employed a radio frequency identification real-time location system (RTLS) to track returnable transport items (RTIs) at dock doors at its distribution center in Buttenheim, in southern Germany. The company now plans to focus on integrating the RFID application into its warehouse-management system so that it can begin a pilot program leading to its eventual expansion of the application.
Rewe, the third largest food retailer in Europe, and the second largest in Germany, operates 29 DCs and 10,305 stores in that country, as well as another 4,409 retail outlets in 14 other European nations. The company's German supply chain operations commission about 36 million pallets and roll containers annually. Rewe already tested RFID-tagged pallets at its distribution center in Norderstedt, in northern Germany (see Anticipating ROI, Rewe Expands Its RFID Deployment). The Norderstedt application involved RFID receiving portals, forklift interrogators and handheld readers for interrogating EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags on pallets.
Rewe considered conventional EPC Gen 2 RFID interrogators for the application, but ultimately decided on the Mojix STAR system, which has a real-time location feature allowing for the identification of passive EPC Gen 2 tags over a long distance (see Mojix Upgrades Product Line, Offers Demo in 3-D). The system can also determine the tags' location at different depths. For Sven Jürgens, who works in Rewe's standards and projects department, this feature was a critical point in choosing Mojix.
"Particularly in the shipping area," Jürgens says, "we needed to know which RTIs were loaded on trucks and which ones were still staged at the dock door." The Mojix system, he adds, was able to distinguish between the two after the system was fine-tuned.
Rewe is working to improve the visibility of its transport containers, Jürgens indicates. Bar codes are an important part of the container-management process, he says, but Rewe sees RFID as part of the solution for managing RTIs efficiently, given the ease and speed of identification with the technology. In addition, he notes, RFID would afford Rewe "process security" regarding RTI tracking, since it would eliminate errors inherent to bar-code scanning.
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