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EPCglobal Reveals Details of Tokyo-Amsterdam Shipment Project

Supply chain partners and customs authorities used EPCIS database software to gain information regarding containers loaded with Canon printer cartridges, and secured with 433 MHz active RFID seals.
By Claire Swedberg
May 08, 2009EPCglobal, a subsidiary of standards organization GS1, has announced it has completed phase three of a multiyear global project known as the Transportation and Logistics Services (TLS) Industry Action Group RFID Pilot Program. An initial analysis of the project seems to confirm that data read from 433 MHz active RFID container seals and stored on an EPC Information Services (EPCIS) database can be shared effectively by supply chain partners and customs agents in multiple countries.

Since 2006, GS1 and its research partners have been testing the use of RFID technology in shipments over the ocean, air and ground, through customs, ports and distribution centers (DCs). The first phase focused on footwear shipped by sea from Hong Kong to Tokyo (see 'Largest Global Pilot Yet' in the Works for EPCglobal). The second phase tested electronic goods and agricultural equipment transported from Shanghai to Los Angeles by air, land and sea (see EPCglobal Transportation and Logistics Pilot Takes Visibility to a Global Level).

Naotaka Ishizawa, cochair of the TLS Industry Action Group
The latest phase was intended to study the effectiveness of sharing data stored on an EPCIS database, and of using active RFID seals on containers traveling through customs in Tokyo and Amsterdam. Initial results found that the technology was successful on both fronts, according to Karl Van der Spiegel, GS1 EPCglobal's marketing manager.

This third phase is the latest in EPCglobal's investigation into RFID's ability to provide visibility in the international supply chain of products shipped within Asia, as well as to Europe and North America. The latest phase involved tracking shipments of Canon ink cartridges from a manufacturing plant warehouse in Tokyo to a DC in Amsterdam.

In phase three, which tested tag and reader hardware in a real-life scenario, involved—for the first time—the GS1 Global Shipment Identification Number (GSIN) system. During this phase, a GSIN assigned to the shipment was linked to the container seal's unique RFID number, enabling customs agents and other participants to log on to a Web-based software application that pulled pertinent information from the EPCIS software, which was populated with data acquired through the reading of the seal's RFID tag by fixed interrogators throughout the supply chain. NYK Line, one of the world's largest shipping companies, transported RFID-tagged containers and provided consulting services for all three phases of the pilot, says Naotaka Ishizawa, senior technology officer of the Technical Strategy Group of MTI (the R&D branch of NYK Line) and co-chair of the TLS Industry Action Group.

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