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At City Link, Tagged Roll Cages Keep Deliveries Moving

The U.K. express courier is a Wi-Fi-based active RFID system to track the whereabouts of 15,000 wheeled containers it uses to transport packages at its distribution centers.
By Beth Bacheldor
Mar 22, 2007One of the United Kingdom's express delivery service providers, City Link, is using RFID and a Wi-Fi network to track the whereabouts of 15,000 roll cages, the wheeled containers the company uses to transport packages at its distribution centers.

City Link is using active tags and related hardware and software from San Mateo, Calif.-based RTLS specialist AeroScout. The AeroScout system includes active 2.4 GHz RFID tags; exciters, which activate the tags, causing them to transmit their ID numbers; and the AeroScout Engine, which calculates tag locations by processing data from the tags and various Wi-Fi access points. It also includes AeroScout's MobileView software, which can portray location information on a map, in a table or in a report.

City Link has fitted its 15,000 roll cages with AeroScout Wi-Fi tags.
AeroScout and its U.K. partner, JDH Consultancy Limited are using AeroScout tags, which communicate via the IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) air-interface protocol. Wi-Fi support enables organizations like City Link to leverage Wi-Fi access points to collect the RFID and location data, thus eliminating the need for proprietary interrogators to collect tag data. City Link, headquartered in Surrey and part of Rentokil Initial, a U.K. company offering a variety of business services worldwide such as pest control, package delivery, catering, and electronic security, is using Wi-Fi access points from Cisco.

Specially designed for this project, the tags used by City Link have a longer battery life than AeroScout's current off-the-shelf tag RFID tags. "They wanted to make sure the tag would last a very long time out in the field, so we created this tag that has up to eight years of battery life," says Joshua Slobin, AeroScout's director of marketing. The tags are affixed to mounting plates at the top corners of the cages, says Andris Berzins, AeroScout's managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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