Oakland International Amongst First Chilled FMCG Consolidators to Embrace RFID Technology
One of the first UK chilled FMCG consolidators to invest in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) despatch technology, Cold Chain Federation member Oakland International has installed state of the art RFID technology throughout their Bardon operation, working alongside traditional barcodes where individual cases are barcoded, and the pallet is RFID tagged.
RFID technology identifies tagged objects using radio waves and is capable of automatically reading hundreds of barcodes per second without line of sight, compared to a standard barcode system which requires sight and manual, individual scanning. RFID technology supported with quality software development provides greater accuracy through the removal of human error on missed or duplicated barcode scans.
Oakland International Group Innovation Officer Lindsay Winser explained: “RFID technology means we are now able to provide more accurate data for our customers including showing when goods pallets left the warehouse and confirming which bay they left from, the vehicle they were loaded onto and the time loaded.
“Whilst manual barcode systems can also provide some of this information, it is the automation and removal of human error which makes this information so precise, giving our customers enhanced confidence in our ability to deliver correctly. Tagged pallets cannot exit bays without being read and warning alarms are triggered if pallets pass through an incorrect bay or are removed from a bay once marked as loaded.”
Having surveyed and tested numerous systems, the one chosen by Oakland is able to provide directional path information, for the most accurate bay confirmation. Different tag sizes were also rigorously tested to ensure readability and optimum positioning. Printer heads have also been upgraded to enable the onsite printing of the RFID tags and RFID readers are now installed in each bay with a viewing tablet to show the operator the status of each tag in their vehicle load.
Staggeringly, due to the complexity of the RFID system, after only five-months it is fully operational from initial concept feasibility to installation, with the equipment IP rated for use within chilled environments where condensation from cold can be problematic. The software will continue to be developed and amended, as Oakland fine tunes the new information and integrates the functionality with additional technology as it comes online, including CCTV and vehicle recognition.
Chief Operating Officer Lee Whiting added: “RFID is yet another indicator for our customers that Oakland International remains an innovator and forward thinking FMCG consolidator at the forefront of an industry known to be slow to adopt to technological change that some other sectors more readily embrace.
“RFID technology provides our customers with added confidence that we have the most robust and evidenced delivery system, with the added benefit of a receipt tagged pallet should they adopt the same technology.”
Investigating RFID technology as an option for their transport fleet to offer a fully monitored closed loop solution, Oakland International operates 24-hours/7 days a week and is a D2C/B2C/B2B specialist in contract packing, storage, picking, food distribution and a brand development support provider for ambient, chilled and frozen food to the retail, convenience, discount, wholesale and food service markets in the UK, Ireland and via their partner in Spain.