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Gruninger Uses RFID Sprinter to Meet Metro's Mandate

The German sausage maker is deploying a packaged solution put together by a 10-company consortium of vendors, and expects an ROI within two years.
By Rhea Wessel
Jun 18, 2007Last month, at a meeting in Düsseldorf, Metro assembled about 600 of its suppliers to discuss RFID compliance issues, to explain requirement that those suppliers tag pallets shipped to 180 locations as of Oct. 1 (see Metro Pushes Pallet Tagging). Gruninger, a sausage maker based in the Black Forest city of Freiburg im Breisgau, wants to be among the first to comply with Metro's mandate.

To attain its goal, the sausage maker is using a packaged solution called RFID Sprinter, from RFID Konsortium. Founded by 10 companies that banded together to help suppliers comply with retailers' RFID requirements, the consortium is composed of hardware and software vendors, process experts, systems integrators and consultants active in the RFID market. The group has focused its offering on producers of meat, sausage, fish, baked goods, fruit, vegetables, dairy products and other fresh foods.

By becoming one of the first suppliers to comply with Metro's mandate, Gruninger hopes to build a stronger relationship with the retailer, according to Dieter Kuechler, RFID Konsortium's head of sales and consulting. It also wants to improve the efficiency of its own operations by using the RFID application. Speaking at the Düsseldorf supplier meeting, Kuechler told the crowd that the RFID Konsortium offers the only standard hardware and software product available to make midsize companies compliant with retailers' demands. Metro offers suppliers information on multiple RFID hardware and software vendors, without endorsing any particular vendor.

The RFID Konsortium was founded in October 2006 as an initiative of IT industry association VDEB. Members include food-industry software developer Sys Pro and UBCS, an IT consultancy for which Kuechler also works. The consortium's goal is to help suppliers comply with RFID mandates from Metro and Rewe, as well as an upcoming mandate from Edeka, a retailer with 10,000 stores across Germany. Rewe is requiring select suppliers to tag pallets, and eventually cases, starting in fall 2007, Kuechler says, while Edeka is preparing its own mandate.

Using UHF passive tags complying with the EPC Class 1 Gen 2 standard (required by Metro), Gruninger will RFID-tag cardboard boxes of vacuum-packed sausages. Each box can hold up to 100 sausages. Kuechler says a vendor for the RFID inlays has not yet been confirmed, though UPM Raflatac will likely be the choice. Gruninger will use 5,000 to 10,000 tags a day.

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