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RFID Keeps Sweet Stuff Rolling at Spanish Refinery

Azucarera Ebro is using active 868 MHz tags to track incoming and outgoing truck shipments, as well as automate certain processes.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Feb 18, 2010Azucarera Ebro, a leading sugar manufacturer in Spain and part of the British Sugar Group—the second largest sugar producer in the world—is employing radio frequency identification to gain better visibility into, and control over, its operations at a refinery in the Guadalete region of southern Spain. The new system has reduced the amount of paperwork that truck drivers coming into and out of the refinery must manage, and also makes their movements more efficient, according to Zetes, a European auto-ID technology systems integrator that helped Azucarera design and implement system.

Previously, a truck driver went through manual steps that would serve to identify that individual and his vehicle, as well as track the loads the truck carried into and out of the refinery. But by using RFID, these steps have been automated and streamlined.

Identec Solutions' i-Port RFID readers are mounted at the refinery's entrance gates.
Azucarera first tested the system in summer 2009, before permanently installing the RFID hardware this winter. Prior to that, drivers needed to present paperwork with a printed bar code every time they came to the gates, and as they visited stations within the facility, such as scales used to weigh the trucks.

Azucarera Ebro is using Identec Solutions i-Q 868 MHz active RFID tags. Identec Solutions' i-Port readers are mounted at the entrance and exit gates, as well as at scales. Zetes middleware links the RFID hardware with a number of devices at the refinery, including gate controllers and scales, so that business processes can be automated.

Jordi Soler, the professional services manager for Zetes' Spanish branch, explains that the tags are used to uniquely identify each truck and the reason for its visit (either dropping off raw materials, or picking up processed goods). Upon arriving at the facility, a truck driver identifies himself and provides documentation to an Azucarera employee at the front gate, who uses this information to call up the appropriate order data in the company's warehouse-management system. The employee then selects a battery-powered 868 MHz RFID tag, reads it to collect its unique ID number, and associates this ID with the order information in Azucarera's warehouse-management software—part of its SAP enterprise software platform. The driver then places this tag on the dashboard of his truck.

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