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RFID Helps Cordes & Simon Document Shipments

The German logistics provider is using a system that integrates bar codes, video surveillance and RFID to track the locations and movements of packages within its warehouse.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 24, 2007Logistics provider Cordes & Simon (COSI), part of German transport network group System Alliance, has installed a tracking system that integrates bar codes, video surveillance and RFID to quickly locate a package while it's still in the company's warehouse or call up recorded images of it after it has left. The company installed the system during the construction of its newest warehouse in Villingen-Schwenningen, in southern Germany, which opened in May, one of six warehouses the company operates.

Cordes & Simon needed a system that would help the company automatically locate a missing package and document when a shipment arrived and left the warehouse. The company met with ESEG E.U.R.O. Security Group, which provided video recorders and systems integration, while Ubisense provided RFID technology. They spent about six weeks getting the system fully deployed, according to says Ubisense's sales and marketing vice president, Terry Phebey.

Ubisense's Terry Phebey
Each package arriving at the warehouse has a bar-coded label printed with a shipment ID number. Cordes & Simon warehouse employees use wireless handheld scanners to read the bar code. The devices transmit the date, time and shipment ID number via a wireless LAN connection to Cordes & Simon's warehouse management system. Each scanner has a Ubisense active RFID tag attached to it which transmits the tag's unique ID number via ultrawide band (between 6 and 8.5 GHz) to the nearest readers. The tag comes with a motion sensor, allowing the tag to go to sleep when it is motionless, and to send a transmission as soon as it senses motion. In that way, if the barcode scanners are not in use, they do not send location data, saving battery life. Barcode scanners are generally used when a shipment arrives and when it leaves the warehouse, however if a package is moved to or from a staging area, it is often scanned again.

The warehouse has 22 Ubisense 7000 Sensor readers, deployed at a height of 5 meters throughout the warehouse, for receiving the transmissions from a distance up to 160 meters (500 feet). They measure the elevation and azimuth (angle) of the transmission from the tags as well as the time distance of arrival (TDOA) of transmission between several readers, thereby determining the location of each tag within 15 centimeters. Transmissions are received and then sent to the system server about three times a second via an LAN cable.

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