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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
Suppliers are tagging products with EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags provided by Avery Dennison, RR Etiquetas, Torres Tecnologia and Saint Paul RFID. When tagged items are unloaded from trucks at the logistics center, by means of forklifts and pallet jacks, the tags are read while passing through an RFID portal, thereby indicating that those goods were received. Each item (such as a pair of boots), as well as every carton in which multiple supplies are packed, has an EPC Gen 2 passive tag adhered to it, encoded with a unique ID number. The items' tag IDs are married to the ID of the specific carton in which they are packed.

Several other portals are installed in egresses to the multiple storage areas within the center. As items pass through those portals, the software is updated, in order to indicate where they are being moved to.

According to Ribeiro, the greatest benefits of using RFID technology, tested over the past year, are the speed and accuracy with which items can be identified. This enables the Brazilian Army to improve its receiving process, by maintaining an electronic record that could be provided with an RFID reader and tags on items.

The Brazilian Air Force is also in the process of installing an RFID system—in this case, at its São Paulo warehouse. The intention, says Captain Robson Teles Peixoto, the project lead for this deployment, is to increase accuracy and reduce the amount of time employees spend picking uniforms to be shipped to troops. When the warehouse receives orders for uniforms, workers will use a Motorola Solutions MC 9090 handheld reader to track the loading of cartons filled with tagged uniforms onto pallets. Once shipped out, the pallets will pass through a portal containing a Motorola XR 450 fixed RFID reader. Data will be stored on software residing on the Air Force database software, provided by the Brazilian branch of Cassioli, a warehouse-management systems provider.

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