In addition to Savi, other members of what’s called the "Auto-ID Center" project include Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Gillette, Johnson & Johnson, pallet-maker CHEP International, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Service.
The project aims to create one seamless supply chain network where pallets and cargo containers, plus the product containers they transport, are affixed with RFID tags that can wirelessly transmit their identification to the Internet through radio frequencies. Real-time interaction between the products and logistics professionals via the Internet will help save billions of dollars in lost, stolen, wasted or delayed products and make quantum improvements in the overall efficiency and collaborative abilities of supply chain management, said Savi.
The first phase of this project was recently implemented with the development of a pilot project in Tulsa, OK. RFID tags, embedded with microchips, were affixed to pallets at a handful of distribution centers supporting a major retailer. Each RFID tag was assigned a unique Electronic Product Code (EPC). Reading devices in the distribution centers and stores automatically captured the unique numbers from each tag and transmitted them through radio frequency waves to a network of computers.
The EPCs are coded with a unique number that points to a specific Web address, where information about the pallet is stored. Initially, pallets carrying product manufactured by Gillette, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are being tracked from distribution centers to retailers. The second phase, expected to begin the first quarter 2002, will test the system's capacity for handling more inventory and information at additional locations, said Savi.