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Korean Clothing Company Adds RFID to Its Supply Chain

The Basic House is applying EPC Gen 2 tags to garments at its manufacturing plants, and is also deploying RFID interrogators at two of its DCs and, initially, at 159 of its stores.
By Claire Swedberg
When the garments are ready for shipping, a worker will apply an RFID tag to the box in which the clothing is packed, and then read the tag linked to the items packed within. The Basic House also built a shielded RFID gate through which boxed items pass on their way into and out of the factories' warehouses. The shield narrows the RFID interrogator's read zone, thereby preventing the device from unintentionally reading other tags in the vicinity, and thus making the system more reliable.

Software provided by KTNET receives and interprets data from the interrogators via a cabled connection, and then integrates with The Basic House's in-house software system, providing the company with a list of all items packed within that box, as well as such information as the container's intended destination.

Once the boxes have been packed and tagged, and the tags have been read, the data will be sent via a cabled connection to the KTNET software, which will then send a shipping notice to one of The Basic House's two DCs in Pusan, Korea. When the garments arrive at a distribution center, they will again be interrogated by a shielded gate reader and compared against the shipping order. After the items are placed in storage, their tags may be read again for inventory checks using a handheld interrogator, and then when they are shipped out of the DC, at which time an advance shipping notice is sent to the store.

Beginning sometime this month, store employees will use a handheld interrogator to read the tags as shipments arrive from the DC, as well as on the sales floor for inventory checks. Workers will also utilize the handheld interrogator to read tags of returned garments as they are shipped back to the DC. At any point along the supply chain, in the event that there is a discrepancy involving the quantity of tags in a particular box, or those tags' ID numbers, an alert will be triggered.

"We're quite sure that [the system] can promote the shortening lead time from overseas factory to distribution center," Jang said, and increase the company's competitiveness, with greater productivity, as a result. "We expect results in improved customer service by making staff [in the stores] more available to meet the needs of the customer, and to ensure products are on the shelf."

After the company ensures that the initial system is working properly, Jang says, it intends to expand the system to all four of its clothing brands in 2011. "We are still running a test of the system," he notes, after which the firm can measure the gains in efficiency and the reduction in labor cost and out-of-stocks. In addition to using RFID at its Mind Bridge and Class stores, he says, The Basic House plans to eventually install the system at its 221 other stores, though when that will happen has not yet been determined. In the future, he adds, the company hopes to install RFID-enabled self-checkout kiosks for automated purchases, as well as security RFID/EOS systems in doorways.

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