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Lavazza Uses RFID to Track Packaging Materials, Boosting Efficiency

The coffee manufacturer employs EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID tags to automate the replenishment of packaging materials supplied by Goglio Cofibox, and used to create products Lavazza sells to consumers.
By Rhea Wessel
To address these issues, the two companies initiated an RFID implementation that commenced in April 2009 and was fully deployed in September. During the testing phase conducted at the item level, and once reels of packaging were produced, Goglio Cofibox printed and encoded RFID labels containing UPM Raflatac tags using a Toshiba RFID printer-encoder. A worker applied a label to the inner cardboard ring of each packaging reel.

After a machine applied stretch wrap around the four tagged reels on the pallet, a worker placed two additional adhesive RFID labels onto the plastic stretch wrap covering the reels, thereby forming a rectangular package of goods on the square pallet. (An extra tag was also applied inside, directly on the pallet, on the short end of the rectangular bundle of reels, so that the pallet could be identified after the tagged stretch wrap was removed.) The company attached labels containing UPM Raflatac Hammer tags to reels, and encoded the tags with a serialized global trade item number (SGTIN). For the pallets, the firm employed UPM Raflatac's DogBone tags, encoded with a Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) number.

Goglio Cofibox's Fabio Marzorati
Once the pallet is wrapped and tagged, the employee moves it to the company's storage area via a forklift. As the pallet passed an Impinj portal reader at the gate of the storage area, the tags were interrogated, and the pallets and reels of packaging were identified by their encoded SGTIN and SSCC numbers. The system used the information to automatically update Goglio Cofibox's inventory levels.

Now that tagging is performed only at the pallet level, the same process takes place, except that tags are no longer placed on individual reels. Goglio Cofibox tags approximately 30 new pallets each day, and will maintain inventory levels of 150 tagged pallets. Lavazza stores about 3,000 pallets of stretch-wrapped reels. By mid-December, all of the pallets in inventory had been tagged.

As materials are loaded onto trucks to be shipped to Lavazza, the pallets' RFID tags are read for a second time. A green light indicates to the forklift operator that the goods have been identified, and that the system has located the related bill of lading. At this point, the system is able to send bill-of-lading data electronically, via the Internet.

When the reels arrive at Lavazza, a worker uses a handheld reader to interrogate the RFID tag on the outside of the pallet's stretch wrap, then moves the pallet of reels into storage. Lavazza chose to utilize a handheld reader for this step, because it wants a single device for all read points. The handheld interrogators—one used by Lavazza, another by Goglio—were provided by Psion Teklogix. Both shipment and traceability information are automatically fed into a logistics dashboard—a Web application shared by the two companies.

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