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Norsk Lastbaerer Pool Inserts RFID Into the Norwegian Food Chain

The organization is transitioning to plastic pallets and totes with embedded EPC Gen 2 tags, for use by manufacturers of consumer products sold in Norway.
By Claire Swedberg
Beginning in February, NLP also plans to start utilizing the RFID technology within its own operations, at the organization's washing and repair station. Pallets will pass through RFID portals upon entering and exiting the facility. Pallet repairs will be recorded by means of handheld readers to input and store information about each repair, says Geir Vevle, Hrafn's CTO. NLP will also employ RFID to charge pallet users the appropriate rental and handling fees, since RFID readers will record the exact time that a pallet entered or left a particular facility. The ROI derived from the ability to automatically record the arriving and departing pallets, Vevle says—instead of a manual process, which can often be as inaccurate as 1 to 5 percent—enables the RFID infrastructure to pay for itself immediately.

Each of a plastic pallet's four corners is fitted with an embedded UPM Raflatac Short Dipole tag with 240 bits of EPC memory and an additional 512 bits of user memory. When the pallets at Maarud or Finsbråten are loaded with goods destined for either of the two RFID-enabled Coop DCs, the company's staff utilizes handheld readers to interrogate the tags and then encode the shipping order number onto the tag, along with the load's destination. The handhelds, either through a Wi-Fi connection or a cradle plugged into a PC, transmit the ID number linked to the shipping details to the company's back-end system, as well as the EPCIS software in which it is stored and displayed for those who wish to access the data via the Internet. As the loaded pallets are moved onto trucks, they will first pass through a reader portal designed by Hrafn, and provided and installed by Lexit Group. The portal will read each pallet's tag, confirming that the goods are being shipped, and forward that information to the Fosstrak software.

Hrafn's Geir Vevle
When the pallets arrive at the Coop distribution center, another Hrafn portal will read the tags' data, including each pallet's unique ID number, shipping code and destination, and then send that information to Coop's own EPCIS repository software, accessible to other supply chain members via the Internet. When the DC ships pallets of goods to a store, the tags will be read a final time as the pallets are loaded onto a truck.

If all goes as planned, the RFID pallet pilot will provide consumer goods companies with proof that the technology offers benefits to the supply chain. "Both previous RFID pilots and our customers' reactions have shown us a gap between expectations and the reality behind the technology," says Thomas Skjøldt, Lexit Group Norway's sales manager. "In order to commercialize our RFID package, we have learned that it is important to deliver simple, transparent solutions with a simple and understandable ROI model."

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