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RFID Reduces Traffic Delays at Indian Port

A passive UHF RFID system has decreased loading and unloading times at Adani Port's Hazira Container Terminal to about half of the industry average.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 02, 2013

The new Hazira Container Terminal at Adani Port, in Gujarat, India, reports that since its opening day in January 2013, it has achieved approximately 50 percent greater cargo-management efficiency than other terminals of the same size, by deploying a radio frequency identification system. With the terminal-operations solution, provided by Suraj Informatics Pvt. Ltd. (SIPL), the terminal indicates a turnaround time of less than 30 minutes for trucks arriving to load or unload cargo—about half the time required for such operations at similar terminals.

A steady stream of truck traffic passes through Adani Port, situated on the west side of the Hazira peninsula, to move cargo to and from Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. Goods enter and exit the port via ocean vessels. Because the terminal lacks rail facility, however, trucks provide the only means of moving cargo onto and off of ships. In addition, the terminal has only a 600-meter (1,970-foot) wharf to accommodate all of the vehicles.

An RFID tag attached to the top center of each vehicle's windshield transmits a signal to the gate and equipment readers.
As a result, traffic management is challenging for the terminal, and managers strive to prevent backups in which truck operators wait to load or unload goods. In mid-2012, Hazira began seeking a solution that would automate the processes of tracking vehicles at the gate, as well as while they are loaded or unloaded, and thereby make operations more efficient, prevent mistakes (for example, the loading or unloading of cargo at the wrong location) and require less waiting time for shipping customers.

Adani Port chose to install an RFID system that would provide data regarding truck movements. The solution is integrated with the terminal's existing Terminal Operating System (TOS), enabling the port to automate the gate-entry process for vehicles and provide better location data in the shipping yard, as well as at the wharf. It would also reduce the need for personnel to check truck ID numbers at loading and unloading areas, in order to ensure that a vehicle is at the proper location, and to create a record of its processes at the terminal.

The port began working with SIPL to develop a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID solution in August 2012, according to Rajeshwar Bhatt, SIPL's director. It tested tags on trucks read by interrogators located at the gate, Bhatt says, and fully installed the solution in January of this year. By deploying readers at the entrance and exit gates, and by supplying trucks with tags, the port can utilize SIPL software hosted on its back-end system to determine which trucks have arrived for which particular container. Additional readers installed on loading equipment identify vehicles and ensure that there are no errors, such as unloading cargo at the wrong location, or loading the incorrect goods onto a vehicle.

Upon arriving at the port gate, a driver receives a temporary passive UHF RFID tag (an M-Crown ruggedized tag from The Tag Factory, with a built-in Impinj Monza 4 chip), which can be attached to the center of the dashboard inside the vehicle's cab via an adhesive. Staff members at the gate enter the tag's ID number, along with data about the vehicle and the load it is receiving or delivering. The unique ID encoded to the tag is then linked in the SIPL software to information regarding the trucking company, the vehicle and the goods being transported. The SIPL software then forwards that data to the terminal's TOS solution, and the TOS software prints a receipt for the driver.

The truck then proceeds past a pole-mounted RFID reader (the SIPL system includes interrogators from both Motorola and FEIG Electronic), which captures the tag's ID number and forwards it to the TOS software. This updates that vehicle's status as having arrived at the terminal, and prompts the gate to open, allowing that truck to enter.

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