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GSA Warehouse Tracks the Locations of Goods

A real-time locating system has provided the U.S. General Services Administration with visibility into the location of each tagged carton, envelope or pallet.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 17, 2010The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) manages more than 11 percent of the government's total procurement dollars and $24 billion in federal assets, including 8,600 government-owned or -leased buildings and 213,000 vehicles. It supplies the vast array of departments and agencies with office supplies and other materials required to keep the wheels of government turning. This represents a huge logistical challenge, but a real-time location system (RTLS) recently installed at the agency's Western distribution center in French Camp, Calif., is making meeting that challenge a little easier.

The system, which employs passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification transponders based on the EPC Gen 2 standard, tracks the movements of pallets, boxes and bags through loading dock doors and into the backs of trucks. It is expected to not only record when an item is shipped, but also issue alerts if boxes or bags are being loaded onto the wrong truck, or if an item falls off a conveyor and is at risk of being misplaced.

The system tracks the movements of pallets, boxes and bags through loading dock doors and into the backs of trucks.

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) designed, installed, tested and integrated the system, which uses RF Controls RFID readers and GlobeRanger edgeware and middleware to manage the readers, as well as iMotion software that interprets data between the interrogators and the GSA's existing HighJump warehouse-management system. XIO Strategies provided consulting and training assistance.

SAIC's solution offers 3-D views into the location of each tagged box or item. Since the system was installed four weeks ago, the GSA is still assessing what it can do with the system, but the agency's plan is to expand it to the entire warehouse and tagging of all items, explains Bryan Tiplady, the GSA's branch chief for general supplies and services.

The GSA's French Camp DC includes three buildings, totaling 1 million square feet. The facility receives, stores and ships 5,000 types of items, such as paper, office supplies and tools for government agencies and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Approximately 60 percent of the supply center's items are typically sent to a facility operated by the DOD's Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) before being shipped to military locations both in the United States and overseas.

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