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Brazilian Coffee Cooperative Uses RFID to Manage Inventory

Coopercam is attaching passive UHF tags to bags of beans, enabling it to track the receipt, storage and shipment of coffee.
By Edson Perin

An RFID reader is installed in each forklift truck and connected to an onboard computer with a touchscreen. The computer communicates with the data server and displays the process information for the machine's operator. The reading is performed continuously, in accordance with a preset configuration.

The deployment employs two models of readers: the M6e, from ThingMagic and the Edge-50, from Acura Global. "We have four readers currently in use and are preparing to install 20 more," Brasiliense says, adding that Coopercam is using RFID tags made by Smartrac. "Today we have 16,000 tags in use, but with new deployments, that number could reach approximately 65,000."

BrasilSync's Hendrix Brasiliense
The implementation of RFID originated with a suggestion from Coopercam's IT department after an analysis of the business process was carried out. "The cooperative's board gave full freedom for the team to seek a viable solution to solve the problem," Brasiliense recalls, "since it shared the same view of the problem."

In the warehouse at present, according to Brasiliense, "three people manage the entire process—both the loading and unloading of coffee." Using RFID, he says, the three workers can process a shipment of 500 bags in less than 30 minutes.

"The RFID system shows location and type of coffee to be shipped, relating to beverage classification, appearance, color, among other characteristics," Brasiliense explains. "Another advantage is, when a bag is taken from its current storage location and moved to another, that change is automatically updated by means of the RFID tags."

The next steps, Brasiliense reports, include a plan to use RFID to track the locations of the samples in the classification room, so that each batch of coffee received is identified and linked to information relating to that particular lot. The idea is to utilize RFID tags to manage these samples, which are stored on shelves within the classification room, so that whenever coffee needs to be shipped, its sample could be easily located and used for tasting purposes. "We will be able to create a historical record proof of that lot," Brasiliense states, "and know if, over time, it suffered some variation."

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