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Greek RFID Pilot Collects Garbage

The city of Aspropyrgos has been evaluating a system that uses passive EPC tags to track refuse bins and manage the collection process.
By Mary Catherine O’Connor
Jan 15, 2007For the people of Aspropyrgos, a fast-growing suburb of Athens, Greece, garbage collection is a big deal. Beginning in the 1960s, the town grew from an agricultural community of 2,000 residents to a major industrial city with a population of 27,500. As with any urban transformation, that growth put stresses on the basic services in Aspropyrgos, including garbage collection.

Complaints of missed or infrequent collections, largely made by business owners, led the municipality to seek a means of better controlling its garbage-collection services. The city wanted to increase its ability to track the work completed by garbage collectors, and to do so in real time. Aspropyrgos has now completed a three-month pilot project using RFID to attain that visibility.

The reader's antenna (indicated here by a red circle) was mounted at the back of the truck.

The RFID system was designed and deployed for the Aspropyrgos municipality by local RFID systems integrator CAT Hellas. For the pilot, 15 of the 2,500 city-supplied garbage bins used by residents and businesses were each tagged with an RFID tag mounted near the base of the bin. The tags, model A918, were made by Italian RFID hardware provider CAEN RFID. An RFID reader—an A949EU model also from CAEN RFID—was then mounted on one of the city’s 15 garbage-collection trucks.

The reader's antenna was mounted above the opening at the back end of the truck, into which the vehicle’s arms lifted the tagged bins. When any of the tagged bins were emptied into the truck, the antenna read a unique ID encoded to the bin's tag. The tag comes in a rugged housing, transmits at 867 MHz and follows the ISO 18000-6B air-interface protocol, which matches the EPCglobal UHF Gen 2 protocol.

Though the interrogator could read the tags from a distance of nearly 5.5 meters, the antenna used for the pilot was detuned so that the tag’s read range would not exceed 1 meter. This was done to ensure that the reader would sense the tag on a bin only as it was being emptied, rather than also interrogating tags mounted on nearby bins. A metal plate was used to shield the reader antenna from RF interference presented by the metal of the garbage truck’s body.

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