Spanish Military Rolls Out RFID

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

The Spanish Armed Forces is deploying Savi Technology's Consignment Management Solution, which includes an active RFID network that can interoperate with similar networks deployed by Savi for NATO countries and other allies.

Over the next six months, the Spanish Armed Forces (SAF) will be installing an infrastructure of RFID interrogators at select Spanish military and logistics posts to enable the tracking of shipments. The army hopes the RFID system will help it better track the supplies it sends abroad and within Spain.

The SAF is creating RFID interrogation zones at its posts in Afghanistan, Haiti, the Balkans, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as in four logistics hubs and naval and air bases within Spain. Spain's miliary will purchase between 2,000 and 4,000 Savi Technology active tags, which operate at 433.92 MHz and comply with the ISO 18000-7 standard, and attach them to containers of supplies it wants to track. These shipments will involve such commodities as food and clothing, but not ammunition.

The Spanish military will use Savi's Consignment Management Solution (CMS) to track consignments. The platform incorporates Savi's SmartChain Site Manager middleware, which filters and aggregates RFID reads. It also includes SmartChain Consignment Management Application, which pulls RFID tag data into tools such as computer-generated maps showing the location of consignments in the supply chain, as well as auditing applications using historical data to recount the journey of each consignment. The U.S. Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, the Australian Defense Forces and the Denmark Ministry of Defense also use Savi's CMS platform.

Bruce Jacquemard, Savi Technology's executive VP and GM for global field operations, notes that the SAF is unique among the military organizations deploying the CMS system, in that it has purchased a full CMS software license, rather than a temporary one. The other military groups opted for the latter to initiate a pilot program before committing to the full license. "This [decision to purchase the full license] speaks to the success of our other deployments," he says.

The SAF is rolling out the platform in measured steps. During the initial six-month phase, fixed readers will be installed at the specified sites to verify the arrival of consignments. In the second and third phases, RFID hardware will be installed at more bases and outposts, as well as at smaller field locations. The military organization might also begin using Savi's portable deployment kits for tracking consignments in remote locations (see Portable Kit Enables Remote Tracking), linking into satellite communications to send data to the CMS network.

In late 2005, Savi announced NATO's use of the system to track multinational defense consignments along the supply chain of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a peacekeeping force based in Kabul, Afghanistan (see NATO Rolling Out System for Sharing Data. The SAF will also establish a link between its CMS system and NATO's network to make sure it knows when the NATO base in Afghanistan has received the consignments it sends.