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Goodpack to RFID-enable 2.6 Million Bulk Containers

The Singapore-based container company is using EPC tags and readers to track the locations and conditions of its reusable steel IBCs at its depots, and at its customers' facilities, across the globe.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 08, 2012Goodpack, a container-leasing company based in Singapore, is in the process of installing EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags on 2.6 million collapsible, steel containers, so that it can track them as they are rented by customers to transport materials around the globe. Data collected from the system, supplied by Finnish RFID solutions provider Vilant Systems, enables the firm to know the locations of its assets, receive alerts in the event that any containers fail to reach their expected destination, and bill for usage based on the RFID tag reads.

Goodpack claims to be the world's largest provider of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). The steel containers, measuring 1 meter (3.3 feet) in length, width and height, are employed at approximately 400 third-party warehouse locations throughout 68 countries, and each is capable of holding 1.5 tons of materials, including rubber, food and chemicals. Goodpack delivers empty containers to customer locations as needed, and later retrieves the empty IBCs once they are longer required.

At Goodpack's depot in Thailand, Vilant installed Smart Gates incorporating Impinj RFID readers.

To track the containers, Goodpack has historically depended on bar-coded labels that could be scanned by its warehouse staff. However, the company reports, scanning bar codes has proved difficult, since the labels were often covered with dirt or damaged, and were thus unreadable, making them time-consuming and labor-intensive to scan.

The $8 million RFID installation—consisting of fixed and handheld readers, tags, and software to manage read data—is providing the company with a more automated solution, intended to collect data regarding each container's location as its tag is interrogated by depot or warehouse workers or repair vendor employees around the world.

The company sought a solution to help identify each container's location, so that it could not only reduce the loss of its assets, but also employ an automated rent-calculation system based on when a particular container was received by a customer, and when it was returned to Goodpack.

Vilant provides integration and installation services, which includes attaching an RFID tag to every container, installing fixed readers and providing handheld interrogators, as well as its own software to manage data culled from the tag reads. The company is supplying a version of Confidex's Ironside Slim tag custom-made for this application. According to Vilant, that model of tag was chosen because it proved to be as rugged as Goodpack required, and since it transmits well when attached to metal.

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