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EPCglobal Plans Multi-technology RFID Pilot

EPCglobal is planning an international logistics pilot that will use passive and active RFID technologies, the EPCIS RFID data communication protocol, and multiple standardized numbering systems to track and secure ocean-bound cargo shipments from Japan to the Netherlands.
Nov 18, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 18, 2008—Next month EPCglobal plans to begin a major international logistics pilot that will use multiple RFID, numbering system and data communications standards and include more than two dozen manufacturers, shippers, government agencies and research organizations.

EPCglobal's Transportation and Logistics Services (TLS) 3 Pilot Program is scheduled to run from December through February and will track shipments originating in Japan to a distribution center in the Netherlands. There will be approximately 50 shipments tracked and 29 separate read points established, David Lyon of EPCglobal UK told RFID Update.

The breadth of technologies, standards and participants involved make the pilot notable. Supply chain event data will be exchanged using the EPC Information Services (EPCIS) standard. The GS1 Global Shipment Identification Number (GSIN) standard will be used to identify logistics transport units and will serve as the Unique Consignment Reference (UCR) for the shipment. GS1 is the parent organization to EPCglobal, and UCR is a World Customs Organization standard that was established in 2004 to identify cross-border shipments. Sea containers will be identified with Extended Conveyance Asset Tags (XCATs), which is a passive RFID standard EPCglobal is developing. Sea containers will also be outfitted with Gen2 passive RFID tags that will serve as security seals, and active tags will be tested for identifying pallets.

The multiple technologies will be used to automatically identify pallets and shipping containers, track their movement throughout distribution centers, ports and other logistics facilities, and to communicate data to satisfy various shipping, customs and security documentation requirements. One of the goals of the pilot is to provide real-time access to the information for all supply chain participants.

Customs authorities in Japan and the Netherlands are official observers to the pilot. EPCglobal's announcement lists more than two dozen participating companies, academic and research institutions, and government agencies. The project marks the third phase of EPCglobal's logistics pilot program. Phase 1 used sea shipments between Hong Kong and Japan to assess passive and active UHF technology for container tracking (see EPCglobal Launches Major RFID Pilot in Asia). Phase 2 focused on using EPCIS and other EPCglobal and GS1 standards to provide visibility for shipments from Shanghai to Los Angeles (see RFID Data Sharing Passes Test in Successful EPCIS Trial).
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