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Innolux is using passive UHF RFID tags embedded in the ground, as well as attached to containers, pallets and forklifts, to make sure that the correct goods and materials are being received and shipped out.
By Claire Swedberg

The company approached EPC Solutions Taiwan for a system that could operate with EPC UHF RFID technology at its main facility. Innolux wanted to know when trucks had arrived, as well as at which door a vehicle was loaded and unloaded. This information would not only create a record of what was received, and from which vehicle, but also identify when an error was being made, in the event that the wrong pallet was being placed onto a truck.

EPC Solutions Taiwan installed 17 Alien ALR-9680 readers, including two at each dock door. One of those two readers, mounted on the ceiling above a dock door's loading platform, captures the ID numbers of the tags embedded in the ground and attached to shipping containers. The other reader is mounted to the side of the doorway, where it captures the IDs of tags attached to forklifts and pallets.

In front of each dock door, a passive UHF RFID tag is embedded in the ground (shown here in the lower left corner) so that the system can determine if a truck is at the correct location.
When a truck arrives at the facility's gate, the driver first registers with a gate employee, then fills out paperwork indicating what is being picked up or delivered. A UHF tag is attached to the right bottom of the shipping container being hauled by the truck, by means of a magnet. "During the project installation, we had to develop a tag for trucks," says John Chiu, EPC Solutions Taiwan's project manager. "It is returnable, durable and easy to remove—and it has to be on metal. So we use magnets instead of glue or screws." The unique ID number encoded to that tag is stored in Innolux's RFID software, along with details regarding the vehicle and which goods and materials are being delivered or picked up. The driver then follows instructions from the gate officer to report to the specific dock door at which his or her vehicle is expected. As the worker moves toward the appropriate door, one of three readers captures the shipping container's tag ID number in order to confirm that the vehicle is traveling in the correct direction.

"A ground tag at each dock door ensures the RFID system does not mistake the location of a truck as it pulls in front of the door," says Aden Yin, EPC Solutions Taiwan's senior engineer. When no truck is parked at the loading platform for that door, the Alien reader mounted on the ceiling directly above that ground tag interrogates the tag's ID constantly, thereby indicating that the dock is empty. When a vehicle backs up to the door, it blocks the tag's transmission, and the software thus no longer receives that tag ID, which indicates that the truck is at that location. At the same time, the reader captures the tag ID of that truck's shipping container. The software pairs those two pieces of information, enabling it to determine where the container has been parked.

If Innolux's software determines that the truck is at the correct location, a light stack at that dock door turns yellow, thereby indicating that it is ready for loading or unloading. When no vehicle is at the dock, the light remains green. If the truck is at the wrong dock door, the light turns red and an audible alert is sounded.

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