Test of RFID under real life conditions

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Companies AIMTEC a.s. and GATC s.r.o., representatives of the RFID Competence Center initiative, carried out a test by scanning goods using RFID tags in the real premises of the world-famous brewery Plzeňský Prazdroj a.s. The challenge was the fact that despite long discussions about RFID technologies in professional circles, no link between this theory and real industrial practice has yet been sufficiently proven.

The whole testing process did not take place under laboratory conditions but during real operation in the actual export warehouse of Plzeňský Prazdroj a.s. The waiting truck was loaded with different types of goods. There were several pallets of cans, kegs and crates. Each pallet was marked with a unique tag. The truck, once loaded, was sealed and covered. All pallets with goods were scanned into the information system as the truck drove through an RFID gate. The tag reading test was 100% successful, as all 33 pallets loaded on the truck appeared in the system.

Despite positive results of the test carried out in Plzeňský Prazdroji, it became apparent that restrictions to deployment of RFID technologies still exist and not only in the beverage industry. Disadvantage of implementing RFID technologies is the significant impact on current company processes and high initial investment. An important prerequisite is the correct placement of tags on goods. The experiment demonstrated that the RFID gate will successfully read only the tags oriented towards the reader antenna, and at the same time located as close to it as possible.

During testing, however, it was possible to set such parametres so as to prove that RFID technology can work in a shipping warehouse and provide the company with unexpected opportunities. The experiment at Prazdroj demonstrated that time saving is among the main benefits of RFID technology. In this case, scanning time of an entire truck load equalled the speed at which the truck drove through the gate. It was not necessary to stop the forklift to scan each pallet prior to it being loaded. Another benefit is personnel reduction at dispatch control. When loading the truck, no operator is needed to scan individual pallets. Human resources saving is more acute when multiple loading ramps are used. Even for a larger number of ramps only one RFID gate can be used, manned by a single worker operating the computer.