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METRO Group Brings DHL Into Its RFID Fold

Logistics provider DHL will provide pallet tagging and tracking services to METRO Group to support the retailer's RFID rollout to 89 METRO Cash & Carry wholesale stores in France. The firms announced 1.3 million pallets will be tagged annually to facilitate shipment tracking and order verification.
Aug 28, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

August 28, 2008—METRO Group is expanding its store-level RFID activities into France, and has contracted with logistics provider DHL to tag and track pallets delivered there. The companies announced DHL will begin tagging 1.3 million food pallets used for delivery to all 89 METRO Cash & Carry self-service wholesale stores in France, where DHL is METRO's exclusive logistics provider.

The announcement's significance goes beyond an 89-store retail supply chain rollout. This is believed to be the first time METRO has enlisted a logistics provider to apply RFID tags to shipments. DHL is equipping five food distribution centers with RFID systems to supply METRO Cash & Carry. At press time, DHL did not respond to RFID Update's inquiries as to whether it would use RFID for non-METRO shipments or if it was using RFID in other parts of its operations.

DHL and METRO Group say the rollout is the largest RFID project in the French retail industry. They estimate 1.3 million pallets will be tagged annually. DHL will tag food pallets at its distribution centers, read them as the pallets are loaded onto delivery trucks, and transmit the shipment data to METRO Cash & Carry. The pallets will be read again when they are received at the retail stores, and the tag read data will be compared to the previously-sent order and shipment information to verify delivery accuracy.

"This project is setting the trend for the whole logistics industry as it brings the era of pilot projects in the RFID technology to an end," John Allan, CFO of Deutsche Post World Net, DHL's parent company, said in the announcement. "RFID is ready for everyday use."

DHL also called the rollout a "stepping stone," but did not indicate what its next steps would be. DHL has participated in several RFID pilots and announced an RFID-based system for pharmaceutical logistics last year (see RFID Pharma Cold Chain Monitoring Solution Launches). In 2005 the company announced an ambitious plan to RFID tag every package it ships by 2015, but last year stepped back from that plan.

For its part, METRO Group has been very public about its RFID plans. In March it announced it would enable METRO Cash & Carry locations with RFID systems and was expanding implementation at its Real hypermarket chain. The company has also announced food safety and item-level merchandise tracking and RFID applications in the past year. For more background see:
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