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RFID Gets Boots on the Ground for Air Force

Wellco is using a solution from Odyssey to create passive UHF RFID labels for every pair of boots, case and pallet, and confirms shipping orders are correct by reading those tags before loading goods onto trucks.
By Claire Swedberg

The case passes a second Alien reader for the sake of redundancy. If the ID numbers are a match for that order, the system prompts a Zebra printer to print an adhesive label for that carton. The software then stores that carton label ID number and marries it to the ID of each pair of boots packed within.

Staff members load the cartons onto a pallet, with a total of approximately 16 cases per pallet, and another Zebra printer prints and encodes an RFID label that is then attached to the pallet. At that point, Wellco's employees scan the bar code printed on the pallet's label, and the system can then update the boots' status as being loaded onto a pallet and prepared for shipping.

Wellco's David Mason

The conveyor can also be used for auditing, Mason says. For example, if Wellco's workers want to know what is inside a sealed carton that has been separated from an order, they can simply pass it through the conveyor. In the future, he adds, the company may acquire a handheld RFID reader to enable this function as well.

The solution not only enables Wellco to comply with the DOD's RFID requirements, Lusk says, but also reduces the incidence of errors and increases efficiency. Mason confirms that the technology has reduced the number of errors, which can be expensive. For example, he says, in some instances, Wellco must recheck shipments and relabel them if mistakes are discovered, either before or after the shipment leaves the facility. With the use of RFID, he reports, the need for this practice will become less common.

In addition, suppliers can utilize Odyssey's service bureau to create the RFID tag serial numbers that are encoded on the shipping labels, or on each item, by making selections from a pull-down list in the software. The system then directs the encoder at the Odyssey service center to begin printing and encoding the labels, after which Odyssey express-ships them to the customer.

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