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Megatrux Improves Operations With RFID Tagging

The third-party logistics provider says it is seeing enhanced shipping accuracy as it tags and tracks cases and pallets bound for Wal-Mart facilities.
By Claire Swedberg
After pallets are loaded on bar-coded bins (specific shelf locations) inside the warehouse, employees utilize a Motorola handheld reader to scan the bins' bar codes and capture the RFID numbers on the pallets and cartons at 915 MHz. The interrogator includes a lightweight version of the Operation Management System, Falsafi says, which performs some onboard filtering of the tag data. The reader transmits that data to the application server via a Wi-Fi connection, after which Megatrux can determine the items' location in the warehouse, based on the bin numbers.

When the boxes are shipped out of the warehouse, the RFID reads at the portal prompt the automatic issuing of invoices and advance shipping notices. The warehouse system also includes 40-foot LCD screens, mounted over each dock door, which provide visual information to floor workers by listing the ID numbers of pallets waiting to be loaded. When the RFID portal detects that an incorrect pallet being loaded, the screen changes color and flashes a visual warning: "Wrong pallet. Not part of order."

The system integrates with Megatrux's existing global satellite tracking system, installed on individual trucks and designed to provide a graphic representation of a vehicle's location. It then notifies shipment recipients when the truck comes within 100 miles of the warehouse.

With the RFID-based system, Potts says, "we know what to look for. If something comes up [such as a box from a shipping order not arriving, or not being loaded on an outgoing truck], we can immediately respond. It allows us to be proactive, not reactionary."

Megatrux plans to install the RFID system in all its warehouses within the next 18 months, Potts says. The company is also encouraging its clients to begin tagging their own shipments as they leave their point of origin, before they ever reach Megatrux. Thus far, however, none of its customers have begun doing so.

"Pallets are constantly coming in and going out," Potts explains, "and we've seen leaps in accuracy since installing the [RFID] system." The system saves time in inventory counting, Jarrett notes, while also eliminating human error.

"One inventory mistake costs a lot of money," says Potts. "Freight comes through so fast; when there's a mistake, the backlash is phenomenal." This system, Potts says, has thus far provided near-100 percent accuracy, and has already saved Megatrux money through reduced errors, though he declines to state a specific amount. What's more, customers pay a fee to offset Megatrux's cost of RFID tagging. According to Potts, the logistics provider expects to recoup the costs of its RFID investment in about 14 months.

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