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RFID Becomes an Overnight Sensation for Sernam
The French shipping company finds that a tag-and-reader system significantly improves the efficiency of its overnight deliveries.
According to IBM, while the long-range HF system it tested from Pygmalion performed well, issues with the larger HF tags and the complexity of setting up a 3-D portal led IBM to prefer a UHF system. A 3-D portal not only has reader antennas at each side of the portal, but also a third antenna facing the portal. Such a configuration would be needed for an HF portal to extend its read range, but not for a UHF portal since UHF RFID systems offer longer read ranges. Further testing of the UHF systems led to the selection of SAMSys readers and antennas. "SAMSys won because of better read range, [greater] reliability, less maintenance, additional flexibility and good onsite support," explains Mottet.
After testing 15 different RFID labels, IBM selected Avery Dennison RFID labels equipped with 64-bit EPC Gen 1 chips from Philips Semiconductors.
As part of the initial technology trial, IBM and Sernam tried reading tagged parcels still loaded on the truck. Such a system would enable an earlier read in the supply chain, allowing parcels to be automatically registered and tracked in Sernam's operations systems after being collected from the customer's site.
"There were good results and good reference data, but we decided to start with conventional dock doors, as it would be more cost-effective," explains Mottet.
Having selected the equipment and demonstrated it could reliably handle parcels at its DC, Sernam found a customer eager to get involved with RFID. The publishing company was selected because its parcels contained paper products, which are more conducive to enabling reliable RFID reads than the auto parts and liquids shipped by some of Sernam's other customers.
Even so, Sernam is confident it will be able to track a range of shipments as it rolls out its RFID tracking service—even those including metal parts. "We have already tested and shown that we can use tags on parcels containing metal parts and still read the tags efficiently," says Perron.
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