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Eskimo Cold Storage Recoups RFID Investment in a Flash

The Georgia company is using an RFID system to help identify the locations of pallets loaded with chicken and other flash-frozen food products.
By Claire Swedberg

Jamison RFID installed a Motorola Solutions FX7400 fixed RFID reader with four Motorola AN480 antennas at the entrance to each of the 20 aisles in which the two customers' product are stored, says Monte Lucas, Jamison RFID's president, with 10 readers installed in summer 2013 and 10 more added this spring. Each reader, with a cable connection to Eskimo Cold Storage's back-end server, captures the ID number of the EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID label attached to each pallet. The 4-by-6-inch label itself, which contains an embedded Alien Technology Squiggle inlay, is provided by Mid South RFID, which prints and encodes the labels prior to shipping them to Eskimo Cold Storage.

According to Lucas, Jamison RFID selected the Mid South RFID labels due to their ability to withstand very low temperatures. "The performance of the tags has been fine," he reports, even in the subzero temperatures.

When the company receives certain product shipments, a worker applies an RFID label to each pallet.
When Eskimo Cold Storage receives a shipment from one those two major customers, a worker applies an RFID label to each pallet. The ID number, along with related customer and product information, are inputted into the Datex WMS. The pallet is typically moved through the flash-freezing process and is then taken to the warehouse. As the forklift driver enters the aisle where the palletized goods will be stored, the RFID reader captures the ID number. The operator is then expected to scan the bar-coded ID printed on the pallet label, and to input the pallet's aisle and shelf storage location, just as was done before the RFID system's installation. If the driver forgets to do this, the system will still know the aisle in which the pallet was stored. When the pallet is later removed, the reader again captures its RFID inlay's ID number and the WMS software is updated to indicate it has been removed from storage.

If a pallet ends up missing, employees still use a bar-code scanner to locate it—but instead of checking tens of thousands of pallet locations, they now need only search 600 spots. The company continues to use bar-code technology rather than a UHF RFID handheld reader, Reece says, because each aisle's narrow width (about 72 inches) makes it difficult to pinpoint where an RFID signal is coming from.

Since the system was fully installed four months ago, Reece says, it has saved the firm approximately $100,000 (the cost of the solution). The technology is projected to save $233,000 annually, she adds, based on the number of labor hours personnel previously spent searching for missing pallets and the cost of paying for pallets not located in time. "We've been extremely happy with it," she states. "It's helped tremendously with incidents of missing pallets."

USER COMMENTS

Marco Mart 2014-06-26 09:42:57 PM
"... Recoups RFID Investment in a Flash". I want to believe it, I really do, but ... what were the actual total cost of the RFID investment ? I can't seem to find a figure in this article ...
Claire Swedberg 2014-06-27 12:05:32 PM
Thanks for your comment. You'll see above that the RFID cost was $100,000.

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