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E.Leclerc Adopts RFID Solution to Manage Goods Shipments

The French hypermarket's Scarmor subsidiary is applying passive UHF tags to pallets and installing RFID readers at its DCs and in truck trailers, as well as at 58 E.Leclerc retail sites in Brittany.
By Rhea Wessel
Mar 12, 2013

Scarmor, a logistics subsidiary of the French hypermarket chain E.Leclerc, has installed a network of RFID readers that works without middleware at 35 dock doors within two warehouses. The company continues to roll out the technology that will be used to track pallets being moved from distribution centers to roughly 58 E.Leclerc retail sites throughout the French province of Brittany.

Scarmor, which supplies goods to a cooperative consisting of independently owned E.Leclerc stores, employed a solution developed by IRIS-RFID, which IRIS calls "holonic" RFID. The holonic concept is similar to the idea behind machine-to-machine communication, in which machines are autonomous and contain all information related to the tasks they need to perform, but are also part of a network of other readers. Compared with standard RFID interrogators, IRIS explains, holonic readers perform much faster, are more stable and reliable (since they don't work on a computer network), and include their own communications abilities.

Scarmor is installing an RFID reader at each of its DCs' dock doors, as well as within every truck trailer.

Once Scarmor fully rolls out the holonic RFID system, the company plans to use it to track approximately 300,000 to 400,000 tagged pallets annually. Tagged pallets will be read at a total of 117 read points, including those at DCs, in truck trailers and at goods-receiving points at retail sites.

"Our RFID readers are not only RFID readers," says Pierre Dupré, IRIS-RFID's president. "They're holonic readers adapted for the logistics environment that can be used to read RFID tags." Dupré and several project partners demonstrated the solution last Friday, at a launch event held at a Scarmor warehouse near Brest, France.

The presenters hailed the solution as one that can bring improved traceability and efficiency to the supply chain across Europe, since it will be affordable for small and midsize companies, due to its decentralized nature—that is, the absence of middleware and related IT infrastructure. The readers themselves are more expensive than standard versions, but require no additional middleware, computer network and network maintenance, according to Dupré. This, he says, makes the system about half as expensive as other dock-door solutions.

By June 2013, IRIS expects to have installed readers at 35 Scarmor DCs' dock doors, in 20 truck trailers and at 45 E.Leclerc retail sites, and the company hopes to sell the solution to other logistics subsidiaries of the E.Leclerc group as well. The E.Leclerc group moves roughly 15 million pallets across France per year, Scarmor reports.

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