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Metro Sees Progress With Its Frozen-Foods Pilot

The retailer is using RFID-enabled forklifts at a distribution center in Hamm, Germany, to track tagged pallets of frozen food and the locations where they are stored.
By Rhea Wessel
Nov 07, 2007Metro Group continues to move forward with its rollout and testing of RFID technology. At the end of November, the company plans to announce details of a pilot testing RFID at a distribution center for deep-frozen foods in Hamm, Germany.

The retailer is testing passive EPC RFID tags on pallets to automate the receipt and storage of goods, as well as track its inventory, said Christian Plenge, Metro's head of research and innovation, at the RFID Journal LIVE! Europe conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

Christian Plenge
Plenge told attendees that Metro has placed RFID tags on 11,000 bins (storage locations for pallets) and installed interrogators on 15 forklifts at the frozen-food center, a 10,000-square-meter facility with temperatures as low as -24 degrees Celsius. The center will be outfitted with 75 antennas linked to a total of 30 RFID readers, and three RFID printer-encoders. The technology vendors taking part in the test were not disclosed at the conference.

"Readers heat themselves sufficiently within their housing," Plenge said. "We know that we can read the positioning tags [on the bins] well. We don't know how well we can read tags on the pallets. This is something we have to analyze."

The frozen-foods facility receives roughly 135,000 tagged pallets each year. Pallets are tagged internally or come from more than 150 goods suppliers participating in the company's tagging program. According to Plenge, Metro plans to increase this number to 400 for 2008.

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