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Milestone Australian RFID Pilot Heralded a Success

GS1 Australia last week announced the successful completion of an RFID pilot that saw broad collaboration from participants in the government, academia, and vendor communities. The pilot demonstrated clear productivity gains over existing processes and was characterized as "the most important EPC/RFID pilot done in Australia yet."
Jun 25, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

June 25, 2007—GS1 Australia last week announced the successful completion of an RFID pilot that saw broad collaboration from participants in the government, academia, and vendor communities. The pilot, dubbed the National EPC Network Demonstrator Project Extension (NDP Extension), demonstrated clear productivity gains over existing processes and was characterized as "the most important EPC/RFID pilot done in Australia yet."

In addition to broadly exploring the benefits of supply chain visibility, the project focused on the management of returnable assets like pallets (which number more than ten million across Australia). Truck drivers of the pallet-pooling giant CHEP as well as service center staff were given ruggedized PDAs loaded with an application by Retriever Communications to monitor all stages in the pallet use cycle, from issuance to delivery to return. The read data from these PDAs was uploaded to a web site from Telstra. In a matter of seconds and without the need for manual counting, tagged pallets could be inventoried and cross-checked with the number of pallets actually due for an order. This RFID-enabled solution enabled highly streamlined electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) and paperless delivery; five manual steps were eliminated from each of the pallet receiving, hiring, and de-hiring processes. CHEP calculated that 28 percent -- a full 49 minutes -- of the end-to-end processing time could be shaved off per delivery. The pilot also boasted 100 percent read rates.

In addition to ePOD and paperless delivery, demonstrated benefits included guaranteed pallet visibility, which allowed real-time tracking of pallets as they traveled through the supply chain. Also, adhering to EPCglobal standards meant that systems from different suppliers were interoperable.

While the NDP Extension focused on pallets, GS1 Australia believes that the concepts and learnings can be applied to the RFID-enabled management of other supply chain assets.

All told, more than a dozen organizations participated. GS1 Australia and RMIT University in Melbourne acted as co-managers, while the aforementioned Telstra and Retriever Communications acted as solution providers. Pallets were provided by NEC Australia and CHEP Asia-Pacific. Customers included ACCO Australia, Capilano Honey, Franklins/Westgate Logistics, Procter & Gamble/Linfox, and MasterFoods. The pilot also saw support from the Australian government's Department of Communications, Information, Technology and the Arts (DCITA).

A full report on the pilot is available free from GS1 Australia. The hope is that the pilot's positive results and learnings demonstrate a business case for RFID and spur adoption around Australia. GS1 Australia CEO Maria Palazzolo said in the announcement, "There is an incredible amount of interest in EPC/RFID but much of it is still behind the scenes as Australian businesses build up their knowledge and confidence in this new area. This pilot provides many answers to questions we've been asked and shows a clear way forward for all Australian organizations looking to adopt EPC/RFID."

Read the announcement from GS1 Australia
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