Argentine Airfreight Terminal Tests RFID on Cold Storage Cargo

By Beth Bacheldor

Logistics provider Terminal de Cargas Argentina is running a two-month pilot testing the use of UHF Gen 2 tags on cases and pallets of refrigerated goods.

The Terminal de Cargas Argentina (TCA) is testing passive RFID to track incoming and outgoing goods requiring cold storage in the cargo terminal at Argentina's Ezeiza International Airport, serving Buenos Aires. TCA—a provider of logistics and storage services, primarily for cargo entering and exiting Argentine airports—is conducting the two-month pilot to better understand the benefits and costs of RFID technology.

Launched in May, the pilot employs UHF Gen 2 RFID tags from Alien Technology. TCA employees affix the tags to pallets and cases of goods as they come into the airport and are moved to two cold storage areas (one chamber stores goods at -8º Celsius, the other at -20º Celsius). TCA expects to use approximately 4,000 RFID tags during the trial, each encoded with a unique identification number, to track a variety of goods requiring refrigeration, such as vaccines, fruits, flowers and chemicals.

TCA is working with Argentinean RFID systems integrator A1-Tec, which installed two RFID portals (one at each chamber's entrance) with two antennas at either side of the doorways. For the pilot, A1-Tec combined Alien tags and interrogators and Zebra RFID label printer-encoders with A1-Tec's Well Edge middleware, which manages and filters the RFID data collected.

Currently, TCA is not sharing the data collected with any customers or business partners. However, if the pilot is successful, the company says it may expand the technology into other operations within the cargo terminal, such as tracking baggage and unit load devices (ULDs), used to transport and load cargo onto aircraft.

A number of airports worldwide are testing and implementing RFID technology to improve baggage-handling processes, improve security and streamline facilities management. Several airports are utilizing RFID to track luggage, such as San Francisco International Airport (see San Francisco Airport OKs RFID Bag-Tracking Pilot), numerous airports in Korea (see Asiana Deploying RFID at Six Airports) and others in Europe (see Air France-KLM Embarks on RFID Luggage-Tag Trial).

Furthermore, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has turned to RFID to locate utility cables and pipes buried 5 feet underground at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, so it can determine the type of infrastructure they represent, and also who owns them (see RFID Markers Track Buried Cables at Atlanta Airport).