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Finnish Dairy Company Tracks Products Via Carts With RFID-tagged Wheel
Valio is testing trolleys with RFID-tagged wheels, as well as reader antennas built into the floor, to track products as they move through packing and shipping processes.
Nov 13, 2013—
Valio, a Finnish company that manufactures dairy consumer products, as well as powdered milk and other ingredients for the food industry, is piloting an automated solution for monitoring products as they move through packing and shipping processes, via RFID-enabled wheels on carts, also known as trolleys, that transport the goods. Aksulit supplied the RFID solution, which features Tagwheel—a plastic wheel with a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag built into it. The wheel, developed for this deployment by RFID tag and services provider Wisteq, fits onto a trolley on which goods are transported. The solution also includes software developed by Aksulit, as well as readers provided by Impinj, according to Asko Puoliväli, Aksulit's CEO.
Valio is a market leader for dairy products within its own country, but the company exports its goods to more than 60 other nations worldwide. It typically takes the firm 48 hours or less to move its milk and cream products from farm to store. To transport that large volume of goods efficiently, Valio maintains a highly automated facility that employs up to 500,000 rolling carts loaded with products at any given time. Those trolleys are shared with other dairy companies operating in Finland.
Two years ago, Valio began piloting the use of an RFID system to identify carts being removed from conveyors at a staging area, when they pass through a dock door to be loaded, and when they return through another dock door, says Aki Liukko, Valio's development manager of warehouse logistics.
The Tagwheel's built-in passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tag (Pesonen declines to identify the tag's make and model) is separated by plastic from any metal, and is protected from any impacts, as well as from the washing process. It provides a wide reading area and offers a long read range, he says. However, Valio needed a short read range to ensure that the system would not pick up stray reads of other trolleys within the staging area. That shorter read range was accomplished via adjustments to the reader and antennas.
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