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Lessons learnt from RFID demonstrator

Supplier News

AS the RFID National Demonstrator Project went live recently, participants said many lessons had already been learned.

Managed by GS1 Australia and CSIRO, the project involves companies from across the fast moving consumer goods supply chain, including Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Metcash, Visy Industries, CHEP, Linfox, Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC), Nugan Estate, Capilano Honey, Sun Microsystems and Verisign.

The value of a big picture perspective is clear to Murray Fane, manager, information systems, Asia Pacific, CHEP.

“We have seen an individual piece of CHEP equipment move from the beginning to the end of the supply chain - leave CHEP, arrive at Visy, move to Gillette, then to Linfox, and on to Metcash - and it is very exciting to think of the possibilities,” he said.

Fane said a single pallet identifier shared by multiple partners meant the efficiency of entire supply chains could be assessed. First, however, there were practical obstacles to overcome.

“The consortium is working with new processes, new technology, new systems and a new way at looking at the goods,” he said.

“There is also a lot of data and, since the technology is so new, there are no ready-made business intelligence systems available to easily analyse it – we have to build them. Over the next few months we will continue researching how the data can be used to improve equipment flow.”

Gillette’s Bruce Grant outlined three areas critical to success, beginning with the engagement of everyone from senior management through to operational staff.

Involving other staff members meant that all were prepared for the impacts of the trial, including workplace safety concerns.

“Secondly is the execution itself,” Grant said. “Be patient, because you and your partners will make mistakes but ensure you have a solid plan and stick to project management principles.”

Grant recommends writing detailed use cases and careful planning around integration with other business operations.

“The deeper you go, the more complexity you create and the more impact you have on existing processes and systems. Keep it as simple as possible while still achieving trial objectives,” he said.

Finally, Gillette benefited from upskilling ahead of the project’s implementation.

“Training really paid off. Because we are very self-sufficient from a hardware and reader software perspective – we can deal with issues as they arise,” Bruce said. “It also gave our team an excellent practical understanding of RFID - what is possible and what is not.”

The National Demonstrator Project received funding from the federal governments Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA). Final outcomes are expected mid-year. A detailed overview of this project and the valuable learnings will be presented at GS1 Australia’s annual Impetus 2006 conference in July.

For further information on Impetus contact GS1 on 1300 366 033.

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