The RFID revolution

The RFID revolution won't be televised, so we decided to present it in slideshow format

  • Case by case Today, RFID tags are slapped onto every case of merchandise. Wtulich says that prior to RFID, the company had little or no way to know where its inventory was, and therefore, could not make important inventory decisions in terms of where the shelves were empty and where they weren't.
  • Reading scores improve New readers from Matrics (owned by Symbol) and some tweaking by Pacific Coast Producers, solved that one.
  • Gen 2 tags to the rescue New Generation 2 RFID tags, which are produced by this tag printer, have helped to bring accuracy up to near 100%, according to Wtulich.
  • Pallet by pallet Tags are also placed onto each pallet. Bottom line: Wtulich says those dreaded out-of-stock situations have been drastically reduced, thanks to the RFID-based supply-chain system Pacific Coast Producers has deployed.
  • Shrink-wrap was an issue Another problem that had to be addressed was the fact that the heat created by the shrink-wrap process interfered with the accuracy of RFID readers.
  • RFID pioneer Pacific Coast Producers, which sells canned fruit, has embraced RFID technology in its US manufacturing and distribution facility.
  • Assembly line efficiency After much tweaking and fine-tuning, the Pacific Coast Producers assembly line in running at 100 percent efficiency, Wtulich says.
  • Double whammy First generation RFID technology had problems with a variety of materials, including liquids and metals. Of course, a can of tomato sauce has both. Wtulich says that early on, the RFID readers only had a 33 percent accuracy rate.
  • Total commitment Jim Farmer, distribution center manager for Pacific Coast Producers, says the key to the company RFID success is commitment. "RFID was out there, and we'd heard about it, but we didn't deploy it until Wal-Mart mandated it. But at that point we decided to really commit to the technology."
  • A discerning pallet CIO Peter Wtulich says the company never would have rolled out RFID if US retailer Wal-Mart hadn't mandated that its suppliers use the technology. But Wtulich investigated RFID and saw the benefits. "We saw it as a way to enhance our business and improve overall as a company."
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