New RFID tracking solution bears fruit

WHEN one of the largest Kiwi Fruit pack houses in New Zealand, EastPack, needed more than just a ‘point of activity’ tracking of RFID pallets to fulfil their supply chain visibility requirements, they turned to Peacock Bros for assistance.

WHEN one of the largest Kiwi Fruit pack houses in New Zealand, EastPack, needed more than just a ‘point of activity’ tracking of RFID pallets to fulfil their supply chain visibility requirements, they turned to Peacock Bros for assistance.

The fruit company was the first to implement the new RFID and indoor vehicle management supply chain solution from Peacock Bros and say the system has already achieved an ROI just months after its deployment.

Combining RFID, indoor vehicle tracking, mobile data capture and inventory management software, the resultant supply chain management system now tracks the movement of all the forklift vehicles and pallets within centimetres, every second of the day in every facility.

Continuous monitoring of activities allows for full inventory reporting on where the stock is located, quantity, expiry date and much more, as well as analysing the performance of indoor vehicles such as forklifts to ensure optimal efficiencies within the warehouses.

All of this is made possible by the forklifts being fitted with the Sky-trax optical cameras that identify the relative location of position markers suspended from the warehouse ceiling.

The location information is fed to a vehicle mounted mobile computer which continuously relays data such as location, speed and direction to the main warehouse management system.

By adding automated RFID pallet tag readers and height sensors to the forklift, the warehouse system now knows the location and height of the tagged pallets even if they are in motion onboard the forklift.

This solution proved to be perfect for the New Zealand Kiwi fruit pack house who maintains three warehouses containing 42 refrigerated storage rooms, receiving, storing and dispatching as orders are placed.

The solution was deployed throughout their entire operation incorporating 25 forklifts which last year moved over 13.5 million trays of Kiwi fruit.

Donna Smit, EastPak’s Company Administrator said the company has already moved over 2 million more trays than last year.

“Knowing the exact location of a pallet at any given time is vital”, Smit explained.

“Because Kiwi fruit is a perishable product, we have to be sure that the pallet taken by the forklift is the right one every time.

“Previously warehouse staff read a barcode with a scanner and manually typed in the pallets location, which was a problem as we could not depend on the accuracy of the information being entered and interpreted.”

Because all activities are now being monitored to an accuracy of 5sq cm, the system can provide reports on vehicle use effectiveness, stock status and warehouse layout practicality, greatly assisting in the day to day operations of a high activity environment.

Additional OH&S benefits can be retrieved from this solution, including the “breadcrumb trail” function which will identify the heavily congested sections within a warehouse.

Proximity alerts can also be added when approaching a pedestrian area and even an optional speed limiter fitted to reduce accidents with pedestrians or other forklifts.

Peacock Bros 1300 723 282.

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