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Patrizia Pepe Brings Efficiency to Its Supply Chain

The Italian fashion designer has doubled the efficiency of the intake and shipping of its apparel as the garments are processed at the company's distribution centers, while its tagged clothing can also be read at some stores by customers looking to learn more about the products.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 06, 2012Since installing radio frequency identification systems at its three distribution centers and attaching an EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag to every garment that it sells, Patrizia Pepe—an Italian fashion designer of clothing, shoes, bags and jewelry for men, women and children—has more than doubled the amount of products that each DC can handle per hour as they are received from factories or shipped to stores, according to Lorenzo Tazzi, the company's information technology manager. Patrizia Pepe has also installed a video "totem" at four of its stores, in order to capture the tag ID numbers of garments carried by customers, and display product information.

Lorenzo Tazzi, Patrizia Pepe's information technology manager
Beginning in 2009, Patrizia Pepe—a fashion brand of Tessilform S.p.A.—began seeking a technology solution that would enable it to improve the visibility of the supply chain at its DCs located in the Italian cities of Capalle, Mezzana and Vaiano. The company sought to know when goods were accepted into the distribution centers from production sites, when the products moved throughout the DCs and when they were sent to stores. Patrizia Pepe moves approximately 2.5 million items per year, divided into two main seasons: fall-winter and spring-summer. The firm had tried scanning a bar-coded label attached to each garment every time products were received, moved or shipped, but scanning all bar codes was time-consuming, the company reports. When tracking goods via bar codes, warehouse workers were able to handle between 180 and 200 items per hour, according to Tazzi, adding that the firm wanted to improve this speed.

At Patrizia Pepe's DCs, RFID tunnels read the EPC passive UHF tags attached to incoming and outgoing goods.

Therefore, in August 2009, Patrizia Pepe launched a pilot of RFID technology, under the guidance of researchers at the University of Florence. The five-month pilot took place at the company's largest warehouse, in Mezzana, and included tagging 60,000 items as they were received at the DC, and then tracking them until they were shipped to stores.

Systems integrator Solos Identificazione e Protezione provided the integration of RFID data from hardware supplied by IDNova, which selected Impinj Speedway Revolution readers for the deployment. Patrizia Pepe, working with IDNova and Solos, decided to attach an RFID tag to the back of every item's bar-coded brand label, explains Fabrizio Innocenti, IDNova's managing director, so that the RFID tags could be encoded at the same time that the bar codes were printed. The partners used two types of RFID tags—one measuring 64 centimeters by 32 centimeters (25.2 inches by 12.6 inches) in size, the other 37 centimeters by 14 centimeters (14.6 inches by 5.5 inches)—each made with Impinj Monza 4D chips.

The company's DCs also installed RFID antennas that read the tags of hanging garments, in order to track the whereabouts of products.

During the pilot, Patrizia Pepe sent bar-coded labels with pre-encoded RFID tags to the apparel manufacturers, which then placed a label on each item as it was packaged.

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