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EPC Network Australian Demonstrator Project extended to push E-capabilities

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The success of the first phase of the EPC Network Australian Demonstrator Project (NDP) - published in July 2006, has resulted in additional government funding and an extended project.

The aim of the extended project is to develop a full business case and clearly show the ROI for implementation of EPC/RFID for electronic proof of delivery by individual Australian businesses, according to GS1 Australia.

The NDP Extension will run from November 2006 to April 2007 and test the concept of paperless delivery and electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) using EPC Gen 2 RFID standards and the EPC Network. The NDP Extension is partly funded by a grant from the federal government’s Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts together with contributions from the project team.

RMIT University and GS1 Australia will manage the project and provide technical advice, while Telstra provide the EPC communications through its Adaptive Asset Manager RFID solution and networking infrastructure for project team members such as Capilano Honey, CHEP, Franklins, Linfox, MasterFoods Snackfood, Procter & Gamble and Westgate Logistics. Retriever Communications will RFID-enable its application at CHEP and provide a scanning application for handheld RFID readers, integrated to the Telstra system.

The four-step NDP Extension pilot process:

  • Empty CHEP pallet deliveries to manufacturers and third party logistics operators (3PLs) are tagged with EPC Gen2 RFID tags.
  • Pallets are read when leaving the CHEP service centre and on entry into recipient warehouses.
  • Telstra’s Adaptive Asset Manager solution is automatically updated with pallet delivery confirmations (including date, time and specific pallet numbers).
  • The new RFID-enabled process eliminates manual data entry, reducing errors of delivery and the misdirection of pallets.

According to RMIT University, this extension will be useful to illustrate how EPC standards facilitate the interoperability of different pieces of technology, allowing companies to achieve complete integration of EPC information into their business process.

The team expects that the pilot will provide quantifiable results about the benefits of using RFID technologies and EPC standards to facilitate paperless delivery and electronic proof of delivery (ePOD), thus enabling the identification of over or under delivery. The aim is to use the EPC standards for the process to ensure it is easily transferable and can be rolled out to other sites.

According to Telstra, its solution acts as the glue for this project. Telstra’s RFID Adaptive Asset Manager Solution manages both data and connectivity by leveraging Telstra’s network, hosting, and application services. Telstra’s RFID solution enables data to be validated against EPC global product data pools, data translation and transaction visibility, thus providing an automated data capture scenario that can be used by any business within Australia and New Zealand.

Global leader in pallet and container pooling services, CHEP Asia Pacific, is continuing its participation from the original pilot. According to CHEP Asia Pacific, end-to-end RFID can help with pallet tracking in several ways. It can improve visibility of equipment movements and provide efficiencies in the various control tasks required when transferring pallets.

For example, RFID removes the need to count and fill in paperwork yet still provides a 100% guaranteed delivery; alerts created by a delivery failure are real time, allowing discrepancies to be resolved the moment they arise; and the individualisation of a pallet also allows CHEP to map usage trends and spot supply chain bottlenecks that can be leaned out through improved processes.

According to RMIT University, it is important for RMIT to be part of this project to promote the EPC standards into the education environment to train new engineers on these standards and about this technology so that they are properly prepared for future work in this area.

It is likely that the National Demonstrator Project will continue into a phase two (NDP 2), guided by the newly-formed EPC/RFID Australian Advisory Group, and with participation open to all EPCglobal Australia members who have registered their interest.

Background Information:

The EPC Network Australian Demonstrator Project (NDP)

The pilot project was launched at GS1 Australia’s Impetus conference in July 2006. It showed how RFID technology and the EPC Network can reach across an entire supply chain to improve visibility, communication and efficiency.
It also successfully demonstrated that a single set of global standards will reduce time and save money; that cross-functional teams make implementation easier and provides participants with greater benefits; that internal knowledge is critical to success; and that the EPC Network’s benefits apply to all organisations and increase with greater trading partner participation.

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