RFID Helps Maintain Proper Function of Water Purifier

May 26, 2009

According to MSNBC, only 23% of plastic water bottles that are consumed each year are recycled. While that may seem, at least, like an encouraging number, that means that as many as 38 billion plastic water bottles go to landfills every year. That’s why companies such as Fulton Innovation, a Michigan-based technology company, are spending resources on developing convenient, high-functioning water purifiers. In 2002, when Fulton decided to redesign its water purification system known as eSpring, it recognized that RFID could play a key role.

Fulton’s purification system utilizes a combination of ultraviolet light and a carbon filter to remove and/or destroy contaminants from tap water. For the redesign, the company wanted to introduce a wireless powering system that would enable the ultraviolet lamp within the purification system to be protected from water, thus increasing the product’s lifespan. In order to track the lamp’s usage and communicate to users when it should be changed, the company utilized RFID. The technology will also track the carbon filter element.

To do so, Fulton embedded each carbon filter unit and UV lamp with a passive 125 kHz tag, while an interrogator built into the purification system’s main control unit reads and encodes the tags with usage data. RFID works best for this data conveyance because the purification system does not allow for direct line of sight.

More than 1.5 million eSpring purification systems have been sold to date, in more than 36 countries. Thanks to RFID, plastic water bottle waste could soon become a thing of the past.


How RFID Can Help Green the Supply Chain

May 7, 2009

In the last several years, the pressure has risen for retailers and suppliers to “green” their processes. Now incorporating RFID could make it easier than ever to be kinder to the environment—and the pocketbook.

  • Tagging reusable containers

Hundreds of companies have increased supply chain visibility by tagging pallets and cases. However, most of those containers are eventually disposed of or destroyed. In an effort to be more environmentally responsible, PepsiCo recently announced that its Quaker, Gatorade, and Tropicana business units would begin shipping all products on new all-plastic pallets. The pallets are 30% lighter than wood pallets and will be equipped with EPC Gen 2 RFID tags for tracking. By incorporating reusable containers, companies could see a greater ROI on their RFID investment, as well as reduce their impact on the environment.

  • Reducing expedited freight

By increasing supply chain visibility, RFID gives companies advanced warning about potential inventory problems. This allows companies to take earlier action, possibly reducing the need to expedite freight, which uses more energy and creates more emissions per pound than the slower modes of transportation that are normally used.

  • Employee sensing

We have discussed ways that managers and supervisors can increase employee safety by equipping them with RFID-enabled badges and cards. Similarly, those badges could be linked to smart HVAC and lighting systems, which would activate and deactivate when employees enter and leave the room.

How green is your supply chain?

PepsiCo Implements RFID System on New Plastic Pallets

April 9, 2009

In an effort to be more environmentally responsible, PepsiCo recently announced that its Quaker, Gatorade, and Tropicana business units will begin shipping all products on Intelligent Global Pooling Systems’ new all-plastic pallets. The pallets are 30% lighter than wood pallets, and shipping is expected to begin once inventory on all wood pallets is taken-which the company expects to be by next month. All iGPS pallets are equipped with EPC Gen 2 RFID tags.

As iGPS pallets are rented by customers-such as PepsiCo-iGPS will use the tags to track the pallets. Additionally, iGPS’ customers can use the tags for the same purpose, tracking and tracing their own shipments. All three of PepsiCo’s business units’ facilities will feature either handheld RFID readers or door-mounted fixed readers in order to read tags as pallets enter or exit the warehouse/DC. That data is then shared with an iGPS server on-site, which sends the information via Internet to a back-end server at an iGPS-operated data center.

Other benefits of the plastic pallets include their being 100% recyclable, flame-retardant, and fully edge-rackable.

PepsiCo is not the first company to utilize RFID as part of efforts to be good environmental stewards. Last year, green energy startup company Coulomb Technologies announced that RFID would play a critical role in the operation of the electric car charging stations deployed in the San Francisco Bay area.