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Georgia Cargo Terminals Becoming RFID-Enabled

RFID interrogators and software are being deployed at terminals in Savannah, the country's fourth-largest port, to track shipments from all over the world.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jul 14, 2006Cargo terminals in Georgia, including those at the Port of Savannah, are being outfitted with RFID readers and software to allow terminal operators and their customers to track shipments coming in from all over the world. The implementation is designed to let terminal operators collect real-time information on RFID-tagged containers so they can provide their customers—U.S. logistics companies, retailers and product suppliers—with greater levels of efficiency, real-time visibility and condition statistics for containerized cargo. In addition, the RFID infrastructure will serve as a test bed for research and development of RFID and other technologies applicable to maritime supply chains and processes.

The project is being directed by the Maritime Logistics Innovation Center (MLIC), a state program designed to facilitate collaboration between private industry, academia—including the Georgia Institute of Technology—and federal and state authorities such as the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA). Savi Networks, a joint venture of RFID systems provider Savi Technology and seaport operator Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), is providing technological assistance.

Page Siplon, MLIC
GPA owns and operates the Port of Savannah's two terminals: Garden City and Ocean. The Port of Savannah is the country's fourth-largest port, in terms of 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), a standard measurement of volumes that move through ports. (A 40-foot shipping container, for example, equals two TEUs.) A little more than 2 million TEUs pass through the Port of Savannah every year, according to Page Siplon, MLIC's executive director.

The MLIC's overall mission is to promote creative technology development and commercialization to improve efficiencies within the maritime supply chain. It also strives to foster economic growth among Georgia's ocean and inland river ports. Since the fall of 2003 (around the time it was created) the MLIC began looking at RFID technology as a promising technology that could aid in improving the visibility and efficiencies of maritime supply chains, according to Siplon. "These happen to be problems Georgia is facing," he says. "But as I talk to others, they are also looking at ways to improve how fast they can move goods. If RFID can help, than we're interested."

The RFID implementation will leverage Savi Networks' SaviTrak, an RFID-enabled global container shipment-tracking service. Many of Savi Networks' customers are the companies that actually ship goods, such as shipping logistics firm Mitsui USA, the New York-based subsidiary of Japan's Mitsui & Co. (see Savi Networks Starts Tracking Cargo).

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