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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
These companies affix RFID tags to containers to track them en route—including Savi Technology's Savi Tag ST-676 ISO Container Security Tag, a battery-powered (active) 433 MHz RFID tag that clamps onto the cargo container's door. The tag's unique ID number can be associated with the shipping manifest and other documents in a SaviTrak database hosted by Savi Networks. Savi Networks is currently working with about 75 ports, all in various stages of deploying SaviTrak RFID readers and software, explains Lani Fritts, chief operating officer at Savi Networks.

At its Savannah terminals, the GPA will use Savi Technology's 433 MHz Series 600 active RFID readers affixed to all their cranes. The interrogators will be placed in the cabs of the cranes, which are several hundred feet in the air, and will read tags on containers being lifted off and onto ships. In addition, the readers will be placed at various gates throughout the terminals' facilities and yards.

The terminals will utilize SaviTrak's network software, which coordinates all tag information and funnels it to the hosted SaviTrak system. Terminal operators will be able to log into the hosted system to track when shipments arrive and leave, as well as where containers are while at the port. Savi expects the implementation, now underway, to be completed and operational by year's end.

Meanwhile, the MLIC was able to leverage the RFID implementation to establish a partnership with the Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC). This research and development organization, affiliated with Georgia academic institutions, is funded by state and federal agencies and private industry. The two partners are working to further RFID-based research, and will leverage the Georgia Ports Authority's SaviTrak implementation to test different RFID tags and technologies.

The GEDC team's expertise lies in high-read-range, high-efficiency, low-cost, multifunctional UHF RFID antennas and integrated circuits. The GEDC's developments targeted for testing include thin, flexible organics (liquid crystal polymer, for instance) and hydrophobic paper-based substances, such as substrates into which RF antennas and ICs can be embedded.

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