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Western Digital Uses RFID Seals to Streamline Customs

The manufacturer’s hard drives are moving through government inspections more quickly and efficiently thanks to an RFID-based security and verification system.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Apr 20, 2007In Thailand, computer component manufacturer Western Digital is enjoying faster customs clearance for the goods it ships from manufacturing facilities in Thailand to points in the United States, thanks to RFID-based electronic seals designed to secure and verify the contents of containers moving through Thai Customs' entry and exit portals.

This RFID deployment—part of the Secure Free Zone Project, run by Thailand's Customs Department—is designed to stimulate economic growth and development in Thailand by offering tax and duty discounts and benefits to manufacturers with operations in the country. To design and deploy the RFID system, Western Digital worked with Thai Customs, as well as the Thailand-based TIFFA EDI Services Co., which is providing electronic data exchange services, and Savi Networks, which is supplying the RFID technology.

The ST-662 Savi E-Seal
During the last five months, Western Digital and Thai Customs have monitored and validated, in near real time, more than 17,000 trips of RFID-sealed truck trailers transporting computer hard drives from manufacturing and distribution facilities through customs inspection points installed in the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate and the BangPa-In Industrial Estate. These estates are duty-free zones set up to stimulate import-export business in Bangkok.

After Western Digital warehouse personnel load a freight truck with the company's products, an authorized manager validates the contents, closes the trailer door and affixes an ST-662 Savi E-Seal to the freight truck closure right before it departs for one of the two RFID-enabled Customs inspection points. The ST-662 Savi E-Seal combines an E.J. Brooks seal with a Savi 433 MHz active tag compliant with the ISO 18000-7 standard.

As the truck departs the warehouse, a fixed-position Savi ST-652 interrogator, mounted at the exit gate, commissions the tag by encoding it with a shipment ID associated with the shipment order, routing data and other pertinent logistics information in the Savi Site Manager software running at the warehouse. Western Digital then uses TIFFA's Web-based data exchange service to transmit this tag ID and freight data, along with customs declarations documents, to the Thai Customs agents at the Nava Nakorn or BangPa-In checkpoints.

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