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CHEP Tracks Auto-Part Containers in Europe

The company is using EPC Gen 2 tags to track the shipment, receipt, inspection and repair of 150,000 returnable plastic containers.
By Rhea Wessel
Nov 11, 2008CHEP, a pallet and container pooling services company owned by Australia-based Brambles, is running an RFID-based application that tracks returnable containers for the automotive industry at its facilities in countries across Europe, according to Floris Kleijn, CHEP's director of RFID as a service in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The industrial-grade plastic containers, known as foldable large containers (FLCs), are used to transport large automotive parts from the supplier to the assembler of a vehicle. CHEP issues, collects and conditions the containers from its service centers.

Floris Kleijn
As CHEP launched the project, it decided to approach the idea of tracking containers by considering not only the benefits such an application could bring to the company, but also those that could be delivered to automotive suppliers, such as an enhanced ability to locate goods within the supply chain.

CHEP opted to implement and test the application itself before involving clients in developing and operating the RFID system. It wanted to first prove to the market that it could build a cross-border RFID application. Currently, CHEP shares information regarding the movement of containers into and out of its facilities with customers; in the future, it hopes to offer RFID-based tracking services for suppliers.

CHEP put the tracking application into operation in May 2008, and now has 150,000 tagged FLCs in circulation. The tags, produced by RF Identics and containing Impinj EPC Gen 2 chips, are attached to the container's underside, with two bar-coded labels applied to the external sides to enable operators to visually differentiate tagged containers from those not tagged. RFID interrogators manufactured by Sirit are being installed at nine facilities in Germany, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Poland, Spain and France. Each facility has an average of two dock-door portal readers, with a total of 14 handhelds employed throughout the system.

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