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Staples Business Depot Sees Big Benefits From RFID Test

Wins include significant reductions in shipment-processing time and on-time receipt of almost all orders sent to its store test site.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Sep 27, 2006The results of a three-month pilot program launched by Staples Business Depot are in. Several of the project's successes were revealed at the RFID Journal Industry Summits conference in Chicago this week. Among them: The 270-store Canadian unit of Staples Inc. reduced the amount of time required to process shipments received at both its RFID-enabled delivery center and a store in the Toronto area—and also recorded a near-100 percent on-time arrival of orders at the retail location—by using RFID to receive them rather than by scanning bar codes.

The goal of the pilot, which Staples Business Depot undertook with a few of its product vendors, was to evaluate the benefits of using RFID to track the shipment and receipt of goods (see Staples' Canadian Unit Plans RFID Trial). The program began in late May of this year and spanned 90 days, including set-up and calibration. Participating vendors included Acco and Unisource, each of which applied passive EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tags to cases and pallets of their goods headed for Staples' RFID-enabled delivery center and store. UPS Supply Chain Solutions (UPS-SCS), which operates Staples' private-label warehouse, tagged pallets of private-label Staples goods, as well as products from a number of other vendors, that it ships for them to Staples stores. Fellowes, a manufacturer of records-storage systems, computer accessories and paper shredders, helped develop the project but did not participate due to timing conflicts with other large-scale projects.

Jeff Ashcroft
EPCglobal Gen 2 UHF RFID tagging and interrogation stations were established at one of each of the vendors' distribution centers, at a Staples delivery center (where goods fulfilling online and catalog orders are received and then shipped to customers) and at one of Staples' retail locations in the Toronto area (where tagged goods shipped directly to stores were received and processed). The vendors and retailer used advance shipment notices (ASNs) to reconcile the purchase orders with the shipments of RFID-tagged pallets and cases. In total, the delivery center processed 295 tagged pallets during the pilot, and the store processed 32.

All of the project participants are members of the Supply Chain Network Project a group led by PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada (PWC) that collaborates on projects aimed at bringing new technologies into the supply chain (see Group Studies Supply Chain Technology).


Jonathan FALLS 2006-09-28 10:09:35 AM
Staples Job Opportunity Hi All, Does anyone know of the correct person at Staples to contact regarding a possible RFID position? Going to their basic web-site and searching job-openings doesn't bear any fruit regarding RFID positions. It's obvious that if Staples is going to succeed in RF they will need a RFID lab, and I feel like I'd be more than capable of running that operation. I have a master's degree in packaging from Michigan State University, with a concentration on RFID. I ran the RFID lab at MSU for the past two years working with numerous RFID systems. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Sincerly, Jonathan Falls fallsjon@msu.edu

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