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RFID Takes Root at Baas Plantenservice

The Dutch horticultural distributor has found a number of ways to benefit from EPC tags attached to trolleys for transporting plants.
By Rhea Wessel
Jan 13, 2012Baas Plantenservice, a horticulture distributor based in Holland, is among the first companies to operate a large-scale tracking system that takes advantage of the EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags attached to the 3.84 million plant trolleys put into circulation across Europe earlier this year by Container Centralen (see Container Centralen Says RFID Provides 'Substantial' Cost Savings).

This month, Baas Plantenservice began identifying all inbound plant trolleys at two of its distribution centers—in Hazerswoude, measuring 26,000 square meters (280,000 square feet), and in Oostrum, measuring 7,000 square meters (75,300 square feet). During high season, the company handles 12,000 to 15,000 inbound Container Centralen trolleys daily. Last year, volumes totaled roughly 330,000 trolleys, and the company expects that number to rise to 500,000 by 2014. With a focus on purchasing, logistics and innovation, Baas Plantenservice reports annual revenues of more than €100 million ($126 million); its main customer is the Praktiker Group, which operates the Praktiker and Max Bahr chains of home-improvement and do-it-yourself stores throughout Germany.

Bass Plantenservice workers use a handheld device to read the tag attached to the base of each Container Centralen trolley.

During 2012, Baas Plantenservice plans to expand the application to track outbound plant trolleys as well. In the future, it also intends to track trolleys during their brief stays at its DCs.

Baas Plantenservice developed the RFID-based application in 2011, with help from Netherlands-based systems integrator Mieloo and Alexander and other partners, though it does not consider the software proprietary. Instead, the firm wants as many supply chain members as possible to collect and share data with each other, says Edwin van Lenthe, Baas Plantenservice's supply chain manager, in order to minimize costs for all parties involved in this low-margin business.

Baas Plantenservice, van Lenthe reports, immediately recognized the potential of having all Container Centralen trolleys tagged, given the company's primarily pen-and-paper process for collecting information about the trolleys and tracking them, as well as its high volumes. "We really believe in the ID," he says, noting that during peak season, 300 to 400 trucks can arrive at Baas Plantenservice's DCs within only a few hours.

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