Telstra Turns to RFID to Reduce Shrinkage and Save Money

September 29, 2009

Telstra, Australia’s largest provider of local and long distance telephone services, mobile services, dialup, wireless, DSL, and cable Internet access, hopes to save AU $4 million (US $3.2 million) annually by using RFID technology. The company has already added RFID tags to 12,800 cellular phones sent from a Sydney distribution center to six stores around the country.

Based on this first initiative, Telstra estimates having improved inventory accuracy through increased visibility from 65 percent to 99 percent. Additionally, the company reduced time spent receiving goods by 75 percent; time spent on inventorying by 50 percent; and time spent searching for missing items by 50 percent.

All of this bodes well for Telstra’s main goals for the RFID system: to reduce the loss of cellular phones in the supply chain and reduce shrinkage at Telstra retail stores.

Shrinkage is a large problem in Australia, with the value of retail shrinkage in 2007 reaching AU $2.26 billion (US $1.8 billion)—or 1.39 percent of sales. With Telstra’s phones ranging in price from AU $150 (US $121) to AU $1,000 (US $805), they are high-value items for thieves, and the company hopes that the improved visibility provided by RFID will reduce shrinkage.

The company also expects to see other benefits by deploying RFID:

* Increased productivity by reducing staff time spent in the stockroom receiving or looking for phones
* Improved accuracy of stock levels
* Eliminating out-of-stocks
* Minimizing oversupply of stock

The RFID system could be rolled out in Telstra’s retail stores by early 2010. (


Three-Year Study Demonstrates RFID Tags’ Resilience in Supply Chain

September 22, 2009

A three-year study conducted by Michigan State University’s School of Packaging and California State Polytechnic University, and sponsored by Washington, D.C.-based Reusable Packaging Association, showed that one-way RFID tags maintain their accuracy and effectiveness through multiple uses in a variety of supply chain conditions. The tested conditions included temperature changes, wet and dry environments, cleaning, dropping, transporting, and loading.

The first two years of the study examined how the RFID tags, which were affixed to one of two sizes of reusable plastic containers (RPC), emerged from vibration tests, being dropped from different angles, wrapping, and shipping. The final year, however, put the tags through the considerable gauntlet of the produce supply chain—with promising results.

In the study, three produce companies affixed RFID tags to their RPCs en route for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The tags endured two trips throughout the entire supply chain, from fields to store shelves, lasting through field conditions, coolers, trucks, DCs, and cleaners. At the end of the testing, 109 of 110 tagged containers on a pallet could still be read with 100 percent accuracy.

This is particularly good news for the produce industry, which has been taking an increasing interest in how RFID can improve the supply chain process. One reason why this study is important is because it demonstrates the reliability of one-way tags, which can store information such as lot numbers, Global Trade ID numbers, pallet trip data, and pallet durability. This data can ultimately help growers, shippers, pallet pooling companies, and RPC manufacturers improve their processes and save money.

For more information on the study, visit

RFID Cuts Down on Shipment Errors for ABB Oy

September 15, 2009

ABB Oy—a leading power electronics and automation technology group with more than 115,000 employees in 100 countries—has found that RFID technology helps it significantly reduce errors in outbound goods streams. The system automatically monitors and records movements in the stock control system and prevents loading errors in consignments.

Here’s how it works: RFID tags are affixed at parcel level to all transport units belonging to a consignment. Meanwhile, fixed RFID readers located at all trailer loading docks scan all tagged, loaded parcels. The readers record the registration number of the vehicle arriving for loading, and the data is sent to the company’s back-end software system, where the delivery’s progress is controlled automatically. For example, if the wrong goods are loaded onto a vehicle whose registration numbers (and, therefore, proper shipment details) are already recorded, the reader at the gate issues an error message. The gate will only close when all of the correct goods belonging to a consignment have been loaded into the vehicle.

The new, automated RFID system covers approximately two million transactions per year. In addition to preventing loading errors, this offers ABB dramatically more floor space on which to work. This is because when workers load outbound consignments, it is no longer necessary for them to work with the goods in a consolidation area. Instead, workers can use goods-vehicle trailers for storage (

RFID to Help Company Track 3.5 Million Flower & Pot Plants Daily

September 8, 2009

By February 1, 2010, Danish Container Centralen ( will begin the largest RFID project of its kind in the horticulture industry ( The company, which is Europe’s largest provider of reusable transport equipment, will use RFID sensor technology to monitor the progress of shipments as they move through the supply chain—spanning 40 European countries.

According to Tonny Vangsgaard Gravesen, CEO of Container Centralen, the company’s goals for the technology are to increase efficiencies while reducing operational costs; to improve control of the flower and pot plant trolleys circulating in the international supply chain; and to satisfy the future demands of its retailers.

These are no small objectives, as approximately 80,000 growers, wholesalers, and retailers use Container Centralen’s flower and pot plant trolleys—or CC Containers—to deliver and display flowers and plants. Indeed, there are 3.5 million flower and pot plant trolleys in constant circulation in the company’s international supply chain, or CC Pool System, which makes accurate monitoring of the trolleys essential.

The RFID sensor technology solution requires that RFID tags be affixed to each flower and pot plant trolley. This will provide Container Centralen with transparency and security throughout the supply chain and, thanks to improved order management, save money for all of the supply chain players. Additionally, the RFID sensor technology solution will deter the creation and circulation of inferior, counterfeit horticultural flower and pot plant trolleys, enhancing quality assurance for retailers and customers alike.

United Arab Emirates Universities Deter Diploma Forgery with RFID

September 4, 2009

Before long, 50 universities throughout the United Arab Emirates will be placing RFID tags on the diplomas they issue to students. The purpose: to ensure the documents’ validity. As an additional benefit, the tags will also increase the speed and efficiency of student registration.

Students in the UAE register for university classes and degree programs through the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research ( Through the Ministry, universities collect students’ personal and academic information, including their degree status. To ensure that registrants are providing universities with true, factual information, the Ministry has urged universities to standardize the data they collect, as well as to provide students with academic certificates that resist forgery. Enter RFID.

RFID smart labels adhered to diplomas prevent unauthorized people from encoding the label’s RFID tags; so, while labels can be stolen, they cannot be used without the proper security code. RFID interrogators in various Ministry and/or university offices are used to read the diploma tags, whose chips store student names, degree statuses, and a list of completed courses. When a student is issued a diploma with a smart label, the chip’s memory is locked except for a section where the Ministry can add its attestation.

The American University of Sharjah is one university currently using the tagged diplomas. Based on the system’s initial success, it is possible that UAE universities will expand usage of the RFID system to include other documents.