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Mars, Rewe, Deutsche Post and Lufthansa Cargo Work on SmaRTI

The German project's participants, which also include the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics and CHEP Deutschland, are designing smart reusable transport items that can guide themselves through the supply chain.
By Rhea Wessel
The smaRTI project began in June 2010, and work is currently progressing on the three sub-projects involving Rewe, Deutsche Post and Lufthansa Cargo. In April 2011, a feasibility study is slated to begin involving 1,000 pallets made by CHEP Deutschland. The pallets will be tagged with EPC Gen 2 tags and entered into the regular flow of pallets, Anderseck says, in order to determine if the pallets can all return to a single location. Once the test is complete, he adds, implementation of the IT system will commence.

The smaRTI project was awarded funding by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The entire project will involve an investment of €8.4 million ($10.9 million) from the companies involved, as well as from the government, and is expected to last three and a half years.

SmartRTI is part of a larger project supporting research into logistics in the Ruhr region, and is designed to create jobs in that area of Germany. The so-called Efficiency Cluster LogistikRuhr involves 120 businesses and 11 research institutes, and will be funded for five years with up to €40 million ($52 million) for a variety of logistics-related projects.

For the smaRTI sub-project involving RFID-based pallets for food retailing, Fraunhofer IML, Mars and CHEP are developing an "intelligent" euro pallet and quarter pallet for retail displays. The firms are currently in the hardware-selection phase.

"Mars and Rewe will be able to measure the effectiveness of its displays on the store floor much more efficiently with tagged display pallets," Anderseck states, "because it will always know if a display is on the floor or in the store's back room."

At the same time, researchers are beginning the process of defining the requirements of software to combine all logistics data from all supply chain participants.

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