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CHEP Begins RFID Deployment for Its Container Fleet

Systems integrator Infosys has deployed an RFID solution based on software from SAP for CHEP, a leading provider of pallet and container pooling services. The deployment will allow CHEP to offer track-and-trace asset visibility solutions to its customers.
Oct 27, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 27, 2006—Systems integrator Infosys has deployed an RFID solution based on software from SAP for CHEP, a leading provider of pallet and pooling services. The deployment will allow CHEP to offer track-and-trace asset visibility solutions to its customers.

The deployment is being rolled out in phases. This first phase focuses only on automotive and intermediate bulk containers, which contain large amounts of the raw materials used to create consumer packaged good (CPG) products. However, given CHEP's sprawling geographical reach and huge asset base (it manages over 280 million pallets and containers), the potential scale of the RFID deployment is vast.

While there are no immediate plans to roll out RFID across the entire asset base, Sateesh Seetharamiah, head of the CPG/retail RFID solution practice at Infosys, told RFID Update that scalability was a key component of the deployment's design. "This implementation is scalable and can be rolled out across the globe and across different business units," said Seetharamiah, "and it has been benchmarked for a fairly aggressive roll-out schedule." The next expansion of the deployment is planned for early 2007.

CHEP will offer the RFID capabilities to its clients under a program called PLUS ID. The software stack is composed of three systems from SAP: Auto-ID Infrastructure, NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure, and SAP Event Management. Microsoft's RFID platform and SQL 2005 reporting tool are also part of the solution. The tags, while Gen2 compliant, are not the standard off-the-shelf variety. They are so-called "3-in-1" tags, which supplement the RFID information with bar code and human-readable elements. They also offer a generous amount of read-write memory, allowing CHEP customers to store custom, product-related information.

Pooling services like CHEP's allow companies to lease pallets (or other types of shipping containers) instead of buying them. Since the pallet provider handles management and maintenance of the pallet fleet, customers are relieved of both the cost and administrative headaches of coordinating and purchasing the pallets. RFID-enabled visibility is a natural value-add for pallet and container providers to offer. CHEP's senior vice president of marketing Brian Beattie said, "This solution allows CHEP customers to vastly improve the way they track their products through the supply chain in a secure setting."

Last month, startup iGPS announced plans to RFID tag its all-plastic fleet of pallets (see Xterprise Provides RFID for Plastic Pallet Pool). iGPS is a CHEP competitor and in fact headed by one-time CHEP CEO Bob Moore.

Read the official announcement
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