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Copper Cable Provider Improves Inventory Management and Security

Progistix deployed an active RFID real-time location system (RTLS) to track large reels at its 400,000-square-foot yard.
By Bob Violino
Jun 01, 2015

Progistix, an SCI company, is a third-party logistics provider for businesses in Canada that require end-to-end product lifecycle management. The company manages a 400,000-square-foot yard in Toronto that serves as a main hub for storing and distributing copper communication cables and other networking assets for communications network providers in Ontario and Quebec. Each cable reel weighs up to six tons, and each type of cable has its own unique characteristics, which make it suitable for a certain type of network usage. The yard contains 116 different types of copper cables, and it can store as many as 3,000 reels.

Progistix had been managing the yard with a paper-based system. But on occasion, reels would be returned to the wrong location or would be reported as missing for various reasons. "There was no [easy] tracking of reel movement," says Yvan Bourbonnais, Progistix's general manager.

Progistix uses an active RFID real-time location system to manage copper communication cable reels at its Toronto yard.
An incoming reel would be assigned to a location within the yard, and a paper tag identifying that location would be affixed to the reel. Each reel was placed in a row and identified on a grid. When the company received an order for a certain type of cable, yard supervisors would manually identify the reel's physical position on a printed grid, and then workers would use a forklift truck to retrieve the reel. Once a piece of cable was cut from the reel to meet a client's order, a new location would be assigned for that reel, a new paper tag would be affixed and the reel would be returned to the storage yard.

"In the event that a reel could not be located, the supervisor would print the reel tag, which contained pertinent information including last know location, reel number, reel size and expected cable type," Bourbonnais says. "This would then be used to conduct a full physical inspection of all reels of that size in the 400,000-square-foot yard until the reel could be located."

Security was also an issue. Copper is highly attractive on the market, Bourbonnais explains, and Progistix had to guard against theft and ensure that removal of copper cables from the yard was authorized. Product shrinkage was a problem for the company, he says.

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