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North Sea Company Uses RFID to Catch Fish Crates

The system enables crate-leasing firm Pack and Sea to know where its containers are as they pass from fisherman to auction house to buyer throughout Europe.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 18, 2010Pack and Sea, a Danish company that leases crates to the fishing industry, is employing radio frequency identification to track the locations of its plastic crates. The containers hold fish as they are caught at sea, and later as they are sold at market. The system allows the firm to reduce the loss and theft of its crates, and to bill the appropriate party in the event that the reusable containers are not returned.

The system, provided by Scandinavian RFID integration company ProSign, utilizes handheld and fixed interrogators from Alien Technology, as well as Alien EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags attached to the crates.

Pack and Sea is attaching an EPC RFID tag to each of its fish crates.

Pack and Sea leases hundreds of thousands of crates to fishermen, who load them onto ships plying the North Sea, fill the containers with their catch, and then deliver them to auction houses in Denmark or other European countries. If the system works as intended, the crates are leased, filled with fish and brought to auction houses or buyers, who can then distribute and sell the catch, and return the crates to Pack and Sea so that they can be washed and reused.

The company had relied mainly on a manual method of tracking its containers, using pen and paper to record the number of crates a fisherman, auction house or buyer has at any given time, along with when they need to be returned. However, says ProSign's CEO, Michael Jensen, on a trip through Poland in 2009, he and Pack and Sea's staff traveled through ports and identified enough abandoned Pack and Sea crates to fill two trucks. On average, in fact, 5 percent to 10 percent of the company's crates are lost each year.

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