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RFID Improves Supply Management for Brazil's Army, Air Force

Military logistics centers in Sao Paolo are equipped with EPC Gen 2 technology as part of a program to increase the efficiency, accuracy and visibility of distributing supplies to soldiers.
By Claire Swedberg
"High-level military troops should have the ability to mobilize and build back up [have access to necessary supplies] quickly and completely, with the materials necessary to accomplish its mission," Ribeiro states. "If the troops get ready and mobilized, and then are delayed, this will be detrimental to operational capability, and would be detrimental to the combat power of this company to accomplish its mission."

Seal Technology installed the system—known as Control, Management and Tracking of Military Supplies—at the São Paulo logistics center, which is served by 29 suppliers and has an annual turnover of 170,000 square meters (1.8 million square feet) worth of supplies. Each warehouse within the center has the capacity to store 2,000 pallets loaded with various materials.

Seal Technology's software, residing on the Army's back-end system, provides two functions. One is to enable a Web application for suppliers to use when sending electronic files indicating when tagged items are shipped. The other is to control the RFID portal readers at the Army site, in order to link the tag ID numbers read at that facility with the electronic files created by the vendor. If an anomaly is detected, such as the arrival of unexpected goods, or items missing from the shipment, the system generates an alert that can be sent directly to the officers responsible for logistics.

The Army tested a variety of reader and antenna configurations, but ultimately opted to deploy portals consisting of a metal-frame archway with an Intermec IF30 reader and four antennas, mounted on a portal's left and right legs. More than 10 such portals, each fitted with a total of two interrogators and eight antennas, were installed at various locations throughout the facility. By reading the tags at each location, the Army is able to track when tagged products arrive from vendors, as well as when and where they are placed in storage, and when they are shipped out. This information is then stored on Seal Technology's software.

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