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Unipac Increases Inventory Accuracy to 98 Percent via RFID

The Jacto Group-owned company adopted an Internet of Things-based platform from CIAg, utilizing UHF RFID, QR code and BLE technologies.
By Edson Perin

The system's inventory function shows the number of boxes at each location. The maintenance function allows mobile readers to identify any boxes that require repairs in the flow of movement. And the idleness function identifies any boxes not being used in the system.

The solution features a physical infrastructure in which middleware manages all readings and delivers that data to the cloud-based system for the management of the boxes. Among the middleware tasks are identifying a tracked object, assigning a location to this reading and forwarding the results to the database, in which the information is then processed.

CIAg's Allan Siriani
With the platform's adoption, the main gains were greater accuracy and agility of readings, the possibility of conducting online inventory counts, optimization of the use of packaging, the ability to provide warnings if time in transit is greater than the established standard, the possibility of identifying the need for corrective and preventive maintenance, a history of movements for packages, and the possibility of remote access. One of the next steps will be to integrate the solution with the company's existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

According to Siriani, the market has long been in need of a complete solution that works in practice and enables the effective management of returnable packaging. Aware of this gap, CIAg sought to unite and apply several complementary skills available at Unipac and Grupo Jacto, enabling the development of a robust solution capable of meeting the required high standards.

The RFID implementation follows GS1's passive EPC UHF standard,. The RFID tags applied to the tracked objects can be detected by any equipment that has been deployed in accordance with this standard. To define reader installation locations, analysis of the operation environment and the flow of returnable packaging were carried out. Readers were installed where they could meet the solution's objectives, and readings can now be taken automatically or manually, depending on need.

One challenge that the project faced was to develop the team's technical knowledge for each of the technologies. Once training was completed, the next goal was to configure the RFID readers and antennas in order to create electronic fences and avoid unwanted readings and overlaps. As for the beacons, several experiments were carried out to define the most adequate power, since configuration must be made in the beacon and not in the reader, which increases the level of difficulty for calibration.

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