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Canadian Uniform Company Tracks Products With RFID

The system that Logistik Unicorp built in-house enables it to link raw materials with finished products, and to track those goods as they are received from a manufacturer, stored in its warehouse and then shipped to individual customers.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 17, 2016

For Quebec company Logistik Unicorp, radio frequency identification serves as a tool to ensure that Canadian military uniforms end up in the hands of those ordering them within a matter of days, and with a guarantee to meet strict quality requirements. Logistik has spent seven years using an RFID system, as well as printed serial IDs, that it developed to track which materials go into each item it makes, when finished products are received from the contracted companies it utilizes to manufacture those uniforms, and when they are packed and shipped to customers, such as the Canadian Armed Forces. This visibility ensures that the company's customers know that high-quality materials went into the manufacturing of their products, and that they will always receive accurate items in the right quantities, while most orders are shipped within five days after an order is placed online.

Since the solution was taken live in 2009, it has reduced the amount of time required to ship goods by 35 percent, according to Francis Alexandre Bibeau, Logistik Unicorp's warehouse director, and has made the process of receiving goods from its contracted manufacturer more accurate. Ultimately, he says, that leads to greater customer satisfaction and inventory accuracy.

RFID cages were installed in the receiving and shipping areas.
Logistik Unicorp was founded in 1993 as a provider of uniforms for Canadian agencies and companies. The firm operates a plant in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

Currently, the company serves the armed forces, border patrol, Canada Post and other uniformed government and private personnel, as well as agencies in Australia, Tunisia, Vietnam and Dubai, says Michel Ricard, Logistik's VP and CIO. The company tightly controls the materials used to manufacture its products, as well as the movements of the finished goods themselves. In that way, military personnel and other users can be ensured that the uniforms they purchase are the correct color, and that the fabric and dye can withstand the rigors of use in the field. Logistik buys raw materials—fabric to be used for garments, such as shirts, trousers or hats—and tests it before sending the materials to the manufacturers that produce the finished garments.

Francis Alexandre Bibeau, the company's warehouse director, scans a shipped box.
The company tracked finished goods manually, using printed serial numbers and bar codes, but it sought a more automated way to know what fabric was used on each uniform, in order to ensure traceability in case a customer had a complaint regarding a specific item. In such a scenario, Logistik could then trace back all products made from the same material and remove them from the supply chain or replace them if necessary, thereby maintaining quality control.

The company has been growing, Logistik reports. Currently, it fulfills approximately 450,000 orders annually, with an inventory turnaround six or seven times each year. It has about 1.5 million garments onsite at any given time.

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