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Rewe Deploying Long-Range Real-Time Location RFID System
At its DC in Buttenheim, Germany, the retailer is deploying Mojix's STAR technology to help reduce the loss of pallets and other returnable transport items, as well as automate their management.
The test of Mojix's hardware began in February 2009, and involved several thousand tagged RTIs of different types, including pallets, roll containers and frozen-food containers composed of metal and plastic. Some 16 dock doors were initially outfitted with the technology in the early stages of the test of RFID-enabled dock-door shipping processes.
The test was conducted with UPM Raflatac's DogBone tags inside polycarbonate casings that were bolted to the RTIs. Rewe is presently evaluating the tags and casings for their ability to withstand impact. Later, after Rewe has fully implemented and expanded the application, the company may ask its RTI suppliers to deliver the items tagged.
Once the application is fully integrated into Rewe's warehouse-management system, Rewe will be able to automatically compare the RTIs on a particular truck with those that should be on that vehicle. Upon entering the distribution center, a driver is directed to a specific dock door for loading. As the driver moves a tagged RTI from the staging area onto his truck, the RFID system will identify it and a visual signal—a red or green light—will let him know if he has moved the correct item onto the vehicle.
Since an individual store is responsible for the RTIs—and is liable for those not returned—Rewe could utilize the system to efficiently generate an overview illustrating which RTIs have been sent to which stores. Currently, employees at a store scan the bar-coded label on each RTI as it arrives or is sent back to the DC, thus booking it into and out of the asset-management system.
In the future, when the RTIs are returned to the distribution center, their RFID tags will be interrogated, enabling Rewe to know the full extent of its RTI inventory on site, and to confirm that items were indeed returned. Someday, if the system is expanded to individual stores, Jürgens says, a store could employ RFID to identify the RTIs. But at present, he notes, Rewe is focused on implementing the Buttenheim RFID pilot, which is expected to commence in October.
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