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IGPS Rolls Out RFID-Enabled Plastic Pallets
Embedded with EPC Gen 2 tags, Intelligent Global Pooling Systems' pool of pallets can be tracked throughout the supply chain. Sensors connected to tags can indicate if products suffered damage in transit.
Aug 24, 2006—Six months after being established by former members of the wooden pallet-pool industry, Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (IGPS) will roll out its first plastic pallets in September, all of which will be RFID-enabled. The Orlando, Fla., startup will then rent the pool of pallets to it customers.
Pallet pools allow manufacturers, distributors and retailers to use pallets on a rental basis, and then return them to the pool provider for inspection and reuse. Typically made of wood, most pallets lack RFID tags and are therefore traced with manual counts; some are occasionally lost in the process. The passive UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID tags will be embedded in IGPS' pallets during manufacturing. This will ensure the pallets can be traced through the supply chain from product factories to distribution centers and on to retail stores. It will also protect pallets from being lost, according to IGPS CEO Bob Moore. Plastic pallets cost about $50 apiece, Moore points out—2.5 times the price of wooden pallets.
IGPS has ordered 6 million pallets, some of which will be available in September. Each will be encoded with a 915 MHz passive RFID tag, according to the Global Returnable Asset Identifier (GRAI) protocol. Formed in 2005 and comprised of global retailers, manufacturers and pallet-pool providers, the EPCglobal US Returnable Transport Items business action group, of which IGPS is a member, has recommended adoption of this protocol.
EPCglobal is expected to ratify the GRAI protocol in September, according to EPCglobal US spokesperson Jeff Oddo. For the past nine months, he explains, the group's members have been in the requirements-gathering process. "They'll begin working with other business-action groups on its adoption," Oddo says, "moving to a broader range of business-action groups to build a consensus."
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