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J.D. Smith Tracks Pet Food Shipments Via RFID

The Canadian logistics company used pallets fitted with passive EPC tags to chronicle when goods were loaded and shipped to a retailer.
By Claire Swedberg
May 01, 2012Canadian logistics firm J.D. Smith and Sons has completed a six-month trial of radio frequency identification technology to track the loading, shipping and receipt of bagged pet food for a pet product retailer. The company is now offering an RFID-based service to track its customers' goods, based on reads of RFID tags embedded in J.D. Smith's pallets.

The solution was provided by Axios Mobile Assets, a manufacturer of lightweight plastic pallets, to better manage the loading of trucks and transportation to stores, based on data indicating when each pallet was packed, loaded onto a vehicle and delivered.

Scott Smith, the president of J.D. Smith
J.D. Smith has been investigating RFID solutions for several years. In late 2010, the company began testing the use of Axios Mobile Assets' RFID-enabled pallets at its own warehouse (see Axios MA Launches Tagged Pallets and Real-Time Tracking Solution). Six months ago, however, the firm began its first full-scale pilot with a customer—a pet product retailer that has asked to remain unnamed. Each 47-pound soy bio-resin reusable pallet has four Invengo XCTF-8030A-CO2 passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags—one in each of the pallet's four corners. The four tags are linked to the same pallet in software residing on a Web-based server hosted by Axios, which shares all RFID read data with J.D. Smith.

During the pilot, every time that the pet product retailer placed an order, J.D. Smith's warehouse staff picked the requested products, loaded them onto a pallet and used either a Motorola Solutions MC3090-Z or GAO RFID 246005 handheld RFID reader to link the order number with the four pallet tags' ID numbers, explains John Psihos, Axios' VP of technology and sustainability. The handheld then transmitted that information to the Axios software via a Wi-Fi connection, signifying that the order had been picked. An Impinj Speedway Revolution fixed RFID reader interrogated the tags as the pallets arrived at the staging area, where the pallets then waited until a truck arrived to transport them to the retailer. The tags were read one final time by another Speedway reader as the pallets were loaded onto trucks, and the order's status was updated to "shipped."

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