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GS1 Pilot Program Shows How RFID Can Track International Wine Shipments

GS1 Italy and GS1 Hong Kong have completed a project demonstrating how EPC technology could improve supply chain management, through greater visibility of crates of wine being shipped from Europe to Asia.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 03, 2012Based on the results of an international pilot using EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and readers to track shipments of wine from Europe to Asia, GS1 Italy and GS1 Hong Kong have determined that radio frequency identification technology could make the supply chain more visible, to the benefit of wine producers, importers and distributors—and the researchers also speculate that those benefits could extend to retailers and consumers. The two groups recently completed the pilot, which consisted of testing an RFID-enabled supply chain of wine between Italy and Hong Kong. The solution employs Electronic Product Code (EPC) passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags placed on bottles of wine, cartons and pallets, as well as temperature sensor tags placed in cartons and on pallets, and affixed to the wall of an Italian vineyard warehouse.

The project commenced in June 2011 and ended last August, while analysis of the data lasted until February 2012. It involved tracking wine products from four Italian wine companies to two Hong Kong importers/distributors (Watson's Wine Cellar and Summergate Fine Wines), and ultimately to wine shops in Hong Kong. Azienda Agricola Le Macchiole, an Italian vineyard and wine producer, participated in the pilot, along with Ceretto, Barone Ricasoli and Marchesi Antinori.

Passive RFID tags were attached to each bottle, carton and pallet.

The two GS1 agencies aimed to determine how well imported products could be monitored using an RFID solution to track the bottles from when they were shipped from the wine producer until they left the local importer, en route to the wine shop.

Italy is the third highest wine-producing country worldwide, producing 4.06 billion liters (1.07 billion gallons) of wine in 2011, 2.1 million liters (531 million gallons) of which were shipped to Hong Kong.

The pilot was intended to determine how well the sharing of RFID data between supply chain members could meet the needs of a growing industry. The Hong Kong wine sector has been growing, according to a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN report published in 2011, which reported that the dollar value of wine imports has more than doubled since 2008.

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