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Pfefferkorn Spedition Uses RFID and Video to Track Shipments

At the German forwarder's warehouse, workers employ bar-code scanners fitted with active RFID tags to record a package's location and link it to specific surveillance images.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 20, 2007German shipping company Pfefferkorn Spedition is using RFID as part of its video surveillance solution to quickly locate images of packages traveling through the warehouse.

The RFID system, provided byAeroScout, is being deployed in conjunction with video surveillance equipment from Deutsche Industrie Video System (DIVIS). This combination enables Pfefferkorn to identify the location of a specific package at any given time, as well as access video surveillance of that package's handling in the warehouse in a matter of minutes. Previously, finding such an image could require an hour or more spent researching volumes of saved data from several dozen warehouse cameras.

Andris Berzins, AeroScout
All German shipping companies are required by federal regulations to maintain records of package movement through their warehouses. Thus, if a package arrives at its destination damaged, goes missing or needs to be rerouted, the shipper can access the package's location throughout the supply chain, as well as provide video evidence of the package's handling while being loaded or unloaded at warehouses.

The system went live two months ago. Before that, the midsize parcel shipper used its cameras to record activity in its southern German warehouse in Heilbronn at all times, regardless of whether packages were being loaded and unloaded. In the event of a missing or damaged package, the Pfefferkorn staff had to search through old video images until finding activity related to that package.

Each package arrives marked with a bar code, and when a worker scans the bar code entering or leaving the warehouse, it generates a record. With the new solution, warehouse employees use handheld scanners to handle the packages. The 40 bar-code scanners come embedded with an AeroScout 802.11b active RFID tag, says Andris Berzins, AeroScout's managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA). The tag uses a Wi-Fi communication protocol to transmit its unique ID number to location receivers in the vicinity. Pfefferkorn has about a dozen of these Wi-Fi receivers, deployed every 90 feet around the warehouse.

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