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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
"We will design a logistics cockpit in which managers can see all important data about material flows in real time," Anderseck explains.

For the project planned with Lufthansa, Fraunhofer IML and its partners will focus on determining if RFID tags can be created that are sufficiently small, and that can be used together with the aluminum cargo palettes that Lufthansa uses worldwide. Prototypes are planned for 2011.

The Deutsche Post project partners will work to create an RFID transponder for plastic containers used for carrying mail. The transponder is to fit inside the soft plastic sleeves already attached to the company's containers, which now hold slips of paper printed with text describing such details as the container's contents or destination. The transponder is intended to function not only as an RFID tag, but also as a bistatic LCD-like display, whereby information written to that transponder can remain visible without electrical power. In 2007, Deutsche Post and the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (IFF) developed a prototype of such a transponder (see DHL to Market RFID-enabled Smart Box).

"This will mean the end of manual tracking of Deutsche Post containers," Anderseck says, "and the end of little slips of paper."

Infineon Technologies will help by developing dual-frequency transponders that combine ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and high-frequency (HF) RFID technologies, and that can be utilized with the bistatic displays and be read with NFC-enabled mobile phones.

According to Anderseck, the project partners will potentially seek patents from the research so that they can take the technology commercial. What's more, he says, they want to be the first to use the technology to get an edge on their competitors.

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