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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
In early 2011, when tagged Container Centralen trolleys were just starting to show up in the supply chain, some 2 percent of the tags were unreadable, according to van Lenthe, mostly due to knock-off versions of the tagged trolleys. "We talked with our customers," he explains, "and said, 'We only want good trolleys.' I guess we were right. The whole sector is now moving in this direction."

As it gradually rolled out its application from February to June, Baas Plantenservice only interrogated tagged trolleys, to verify that the tags and trolleys were authentic. Then, during last summer, the company attended a two-day workshop covering the business processes that could be improved by collecting data regarding tagged containers. At that point, the firm opted to utilize the RFID infrastructure to improve its inbound goods process, and also began selecting a systems integrator.

The pilot that followed lasted from mid-August until the middle of September, and included the participation of four growers: Kwekerij Wouters, in Ens; Gebroeders van der Salm, in Boskoop; Leo Ammerlaan, in Bleiswijk; and Hacol, in Lottum. During this pilot, Baas Plantenservice collected additional RFID data pertaining to all containers arriving from those growers.

Each grower—which had ensured Baas Plantenservice that it was using properly tagged Container Centralen trolleys—scanned a bar-coded label identifying the Baas Plantenservice order number, then picked and placed plants on a trolley and identified itself using a global location identifier (GLN). Finally, the grower again scanned the bar-coded label and interrogated the trolley's RFID tag. Tags were interrogated using 12 Nordic ID Merlin handheld readers that included bar-code scanners. "The advantage of the system is that all data is automatically processed," van Lenthe states, "and we have complete transparency over the supply chain, which will result in a faster and smoother supply chain."

Upon a shipment's arrival at one of its distribution centers, Baas Plantenservice identifies the Container Centralen tags on the trolleys received, and updates its records regarding which trolleys arrived containing which merchandise, and from which growers. This process replaced printed purchase orders that were crosschecked manually, with that data being entered into computers by hand as well.

IT solutions provider Qurius is supplying Baas Plantenservice with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, while Mieloo and Alexander serves as the project's systems integrator. Mieloo and Alexander also supplies RFID scanning solutions for growers and transporters, as well as the RFID Supply Chain Platform, which is based on the company's Scan Green application suite and stores the operational data collected via radio frequency identification. This information is forwarded to Baas Plantenservice's ERP system.

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