Radio Frequency Identification RFID is the electronic reading of data on small "tags" at a distance and with few problems of orientation, obscuration or of reading many at a time, in stark contrast to barcodes. RFID improves safety and security, for example by automated error prevention and anti-tampering checks. The global standard for open use of RFID in supply chains involves the so–called Electronic Product Code EPC. Food is the biggest potential application of RFID and the race towards partially then fully printed RFID will be seen sooner rather than later in this sector.
A cold chain RFID pilot project in Australia has found that EPC RFID can be successfully rolled out in a sub–zero production environment. Standards body GS1 Australia managed the trial for Patties Foods, Montague Cold Storage Australasia and VeriSign. Patties General Manager Purchasing and Supply, Joe Rettino, says Patties was involved because they saw enormous benefit.
Error Prevention, Automated Data Capture, Cost Reduction
HF Fonterra of New Zealand, the world's largest milk cooperative, has appointed system integrators for a major use of RFID for error prevention, record keeping and efficiency in New Zealand. 16,000 tags will be used for the vats in error prevention. Another 500,000 disposable tags will be on sample vials for automated, error free, low cost testing and a total of 3000 readers are being purchased. This project rivals some of the biggest RFID orders in the world. There is more to come as Fonterra replaces all barcodes with the more reliable and versatile HF RFID.
Topping even this, Alberto Sanz Rojo, Industrial Development Director of Spain's largest dairy products company Grupo Leche Pascual, says he will use RFID at his Arander factory in the world's largest dairy products RFID rollout. Whereas Wal-Mart requires suppliers to RFID tag pallets and cases to improve its stock control. Unfortunately, those suppliers are successfully dragging their feet because they do not usually obtain a payback. By contrast, Grupo Pascual funds the RFID because it is for its benefit. That involves automating the manual barcode reading process so the cases are checked more often and more reliably and traceability, the main objective, is enhanced. Grupo Pascual sells liquid egg so traceability can be a challenge. He anticipates using 300 million tags on cases in 2008 and he has plans to tag the chickens and the chicken feed later.
It is very important that retailers and their suppliers create a mutuality of benefit if RFID is to be successfully employed and that they move as rapidly as possible to the tagging of individual items. That leads to a greater range of paybacks from increased sales and reduced costs. Then there is also the possibility of smart packaging incorporating RFID as Arla Foods, Europe's largest dairy company, envisages with self-adjusting use by dates (responding to how hot it was and for how long) and other value added features.
For more read "RFID for Animals, Food and Farming 2007-2017"
Source Top Image: www.ecosherpa.com