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RFID Increases Sour Cream Maker's Visibility

This spring, Daisy Brand will start using radio frequency identification to increase product visibility in its own warehouse, and eventually throughout its distribution chain.
By Claire Swedberg
"Their warehouse management system is running on suggestions, which is extremely efficient," Chandler says. "Forklift operators can dynamically change what they need to do based on what is happening during the day." To enable such as a flexible business process, Daisy Brand created its warehouse management system in-house so drivers could alter initial warehouse plans whenever necessary.

According to Chandler, the RFID system Daisy Brands is deploying includes forklifts fitted with Alien 9800 RFID readers and tablet computers to allow warehouse workers to make any necessary inventory decisions and input that information into the company system. For example, the data could indicate why someone in the warehouse is moving a pallet and where it needs to go. "It gives us the ability to build some context, so we can understand why we just got a [particular] read," Brown says.

The new RFID solution will work as follows: A pallet is loaded with 140 identical cases of Daisy sour cream, each case marked with a bar code indicating the product's stock-keeping unit (SKU) number. Once a scanner reads the bar code on one of those cases, the SKU is fed to an RFID printer-encoder, which writes that data to an Alien Technology ALL-9460 "Omni-Squiggle" EPC Class 1, Gen 2 RFID label. The pallet and cases are covered automatically with plastic wrap, the RFID label is attached to the wrapped pallet, and the pallet's bar code data and tag EPC are stored in a database.

When a forklift moves a pallet of sour cream, the reader captures the tag's EPC number on the pallet tag and displays that number on the screen of the vehicle's tablet PC. The forklift operator can then use the PC’s touchpad to add data, such as where the pallet is being moved and why.

The iMotion platform will integrate the company's warehouse management system with several dozen Alien readers—one installed at the portal where pallets leave the plant, others attached to forklifts—as well as the RFID label printer-encoder and bar code scanners.

Brown described the company's long-term vision as including visibility all the way to Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Target and other large customers that will have RFID technology available in most stores.

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