Reuse of RFID Tags Adds Supply Chain Efficiency

by | Jul 6, 2009

rfid-chipA study from the Reusable Packaging Association has found that radio frequency identification (RFID) tags designed for single-use actually are able to withstand multiple trips without deterioration in performance.

RFID tags are used to electronically track shipping containers, pallets, cases, and even individual products throughout the supply chain. A major impediment to greater adoption of RFID tags has been the cost per unit, especially within the fresh produce industry, where packages are subjected to extremes of heat and cold, as well as moisture.

The fact that the tags are reusable makes them a more efficient supply chain tracking option, according to the Reusable Packaging Association.

Additionally, using the tags results in minimization of product loss and/or damage, as well as reduced labor costs, according to a press release.

The study is based on a year-long field study that included the following entities: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Frontera Produce, Stemilt, Tanimura and Antle, Georgia-Pacific, IFCO SYSTEMS N.A.,ORBIS, Alien Technology; Avery Dennison, Impinj, UPM Raflatac, Michigan State University School of Packaging, The Kennedy Group, California State Polytechnic University and QLM Consulting.

The study involved two phases of testing on 230 reusable containers using nine different RFID tags. Of those nine tags, three were determined to offer optimal performance, and those were used in the third phase, which constituted the field study. On average, RFID tags used during field testing were subjected to more than 1,000 miles in transportation distance. Then, the packages were unloaded at a distribution center, reloaded onto local trucks for delivery to the stores, redelivered back for sanitation, and finally redeployed to the production company for reuse, according to the release.

As of April 1, Gatorade and Quaker began integrating recyclable plastic pallets with RFID-tracking chips.

Using RFID chips is one of several strategies for implementing a green distribution center.

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