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Packaging Company Tags Its Shipping Containers

Faerch Plast is using an EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID system from Prosign to keep a better eye on the reusable steel cages it utilizes to deliver its products to customers.
By Claire Swedberg
Large customers collapse the cages and send them back in sufficiently high volumes that pickups occur regularly. However, some smaller customers stockpile the collapsed boxes until they have enough for a full truck load, which often leads to confusion regarding the number of cartons at each customer's site.

The goal of Færch Plast's management was to establish an automated solution that could track when and to whom boxes were loaded and shipped, as well as when they were returned. It also sought to reduce the need to purchase additional containers to replace those not located. The system combines RFID and bar-coding technologies, enabling the firm to track every loaded metal box.

The Confidex Captura tag

Færch Plast applied Confidex Captura ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 passive RFID tags to each of 25,000 metal shipping containers at its two facilities, according to Michael Jensen, Prosign's director and CEO. When a cage is loaded with packaging products—approximately 7,000 to 8,000 plastic trays—it is then stretch-wrapped, and a bar-code label printed with an ID number is applied to the outside of the plastic film. At the Danish plant, an Impinj Speedway Revolution R420 interrogator, installed on the stretch-wrap machine, reads the RFID tag's ID number. At the Czech warehouse, workers employ a Psion Workabout Pro 3 RFID handheld reader to scan the bar code and then interrogate the tag's unique ID. At either site, the box's bar-code and tag ID numbers are recorded in the ProSign software, where the two numbers are linked together. The bar-code number is also linked to the specific type of product loaded in the metal box, in Færch Plast's own management software. The loaded cage is then placed into storage, until required to fill a customer's order.

When an order arrives for that product, the warehouse workers retrieve the metal container and scan its bar code, indicating the kind of product being shipped to that customer. Færch Plast's software stores a record of the box's actual shipping date and time, based on the bar code, and that information is forwarded to the ProSign software. This updates the container's status as shipped at that particular time and date.

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