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New Zealand Group Uses EPCglobal Network to Track Livestock, Meat

The participants utilized a variety of EPC RFID hardware and software in a project designed to prove the effectiveness of the EPCglobal Network as a tool for traceability.
By Dave Friedlos
Aug 13, 2010GS1 New Zealand has just published a report on a study that demonstrates, the organization says, the efficacy of using the EPCglobal Network to track livestock from the farm to the retailer. The EPCglobal Network is a suite of Internet services for sharing product data around the world using a unique Electronic Product Code (EPC) encoded within RFID tags. The information, gathered at different RFID read points in the supply chain, could be used to help companies track and trace goods and product information. Consequently, companies might be better able to manage their supply chains more effectively, respond quickly to market needs, and meet safety and regulatory requirements from international export markets.

GS1 New Zealand, a member of the international organization that aims to make EPC technology the global RFID system for product identification, ran the trial in April 2010 with ANZCO Foods to track 10 cows from the feedlot to meat wholesaler. The report, entitled "The Efficacy of Using the EPCglobal Network for Livestock Traceability: A Proof of Concept," is available for download from GS1 New Zealand's Web site.

The cows' RFID tags were read when the animals were put on trucks bound for the processing plant.
The project was a follow-up to two earlier New Zealand trials of UHF EPC Gen 2 technology for the tracking of animals run by the RFID Pathfinder Group and Rezare Systems. The Pathfinder Group determined that UHF tags were more efficient and more cost effective for tracking cattle and deer between the farm and a meat packing facility than traditional low-frequency (LF) tags during a trial in 2008 (see New Zealand Study Finds UHF Superior for Livestock Tracking). Software firm Rezare built on the Pathfinder Group's findings during a trial in 2009 by using commercially available UHF tags and readers to track sheep and deer during standard animal-handling operations.

One of the report's authors is Gary Hartley, who is GS1 New Zealand's general manager, as well as the secretary of RFID Pathfinder Group. Hartley says Rezare secured funding to extend the trials of UHF EPC Gen 2 tags for livestock as it was transported from the farm to a meat processor.

"We were satisfied with the performance of UHF tags for tracking livestock in the previous two trials," he says. "The technology was proven and further trials were pointless. Instead, we decided it was time to move on and test the EPCglobal Network as a tool for traceability. We have been hearing about the benefits of the EPCglobal Network for some years now but no one is using it. So we wanted to put the network to the test and demonstrate that it does work, and that it can provide a competitive advantage to businesses."

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