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German Supermarkets Use RFID to Manage Warehouse Access and Send Alerts

ALDI and Lidl are both using active tags from Albis Technologies to ensure only authorized personnel enter their warehouses; Lidl is also using the technology for its freezers.
By Claire Swedberg
At Lidl, the same solution is in place, using the reader to capture transponder ID numbers, verify their authorization and then triggering the gate to open. In addition, however, the company saw another application for the system: tracking the safety of personnel in the freezers.

Walk-in freezers also have security gates to keep unauthorized staff out. However, even if an individual is authorized, if he spends too much time in the freezer he could experience health problems. Therefore staff members are expected to leave the freezer after only a few minutes. If someone stays longer than that, it could indicate a problem, such as the person has fallen. To monitor this, Lidl installed a reader inside the freezer near its entrance. When a person with a transponder arrives, the ID number is recognized, unlocks the door and allows him entrance. As he remains in the freezer, the reader continues to read the tag once each second. If it is still reading the tag in 15 minutes, it triggers a loud siren that can be heard outside the freezer. The company began installing the system in its stores in January of this year.

Thus far Lidl has installed the RFID system in about a dozen of its 1,500 stores, with plans to expand to all of its stores. ALDI has installed the warehouse system in 29 stores in Germany and one in Poland. The company has 1,600 stores in western and southern Germany. It is proceeding with a full-scale rollout of the system, beginning with each new store that is built, or new gates installed at existing facilities.

The Albis solution is designed to be low cost—about $1,000 per gate and installation as well as 10 badge cards—for multiple deployments by large retailers or other companies. "It's a simple stand-alone system, and that's what is best suited for the retailers," says Stämmer. When they received the readers and tags, the users can set the read range on the reader to the most appropriate level, such as three or six meters. They can input new RFID tags as they provide them to staff, and remove tags from the system if a staff member is no longer using the tag. In addition, the reader software allows users to input a specific name assigned to a badge ID, although that is not necessary.

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