Distribution and Warehousing

Identify Locate Track

For efficient distribution operations, it is desirable to achieve automatic identification of goods received and dispatched, either on pallets or free-loaded into trucks. It is also important to ensure that the right goods are loaded onto the correct truck. Also, there is a trend toward the use of Electronic Proof of Delivery (ePoD), whereby goods received in cartons/cases are reconciled against goods detailed in an Advance Ship Notice (ASN). This is particularly challenging in environments where mixed pallets are received, and there are goods on the pallet which require priority handling (e.g. replenishment of goods in a retail store).

ITCS-App11

If ITCS smart antennas (SASLs) are strategically located throughout a distribution center, then it is possible to achieve real-time, perpetual inventory visibility of goods in your facility.

An advantage of using ITCS to achieve automated, high reading reliability of goods on mixed pallets is the elimination of manual, serial reading of cartons/cases (which offers practically no advantage of labeling with bar codes). Furthermore, automated “scanning” in aggregate on receipt allows business rules concerned with efficient replenishment of priority goods or items, to generate alerts to associates so that they can expeditiously handle specific goods just received, and hence lead to minimization of stock-outs on the retail sales floor. In general terms, while in many distribution operations where is a sense of expected order or placement of goods being dispatched or received, practical experience illustrates that things do not always go as planned.

In the illustrative drawing below, cartons/cases (or “eaches”) are tagged using appropriate RFID tags, which have been pre-coded with suitable carton/case identification codes by any EPCglobal UHF Gen2 (ISO 18000-6C) compatible RFID system, with coding such that cartons/cases are uniquely identified. Each pallet may also have a tag applied to permit automatic identification. Tagged cartons/cases are off-loaded from the delivery truck, either manually using a pallet jack, or with a fork-lift truck.

This distribution center model has multiple receiving and dispatch doors, with goods staged ready for dispatch. A traditional approach to identifying tagged goods on a pallet would be to install a portal reader sub-system at each door – and of course install protective bollards in an attempt to prevent accidental damage to the floor mounted antennas. With ITCS, multiple dock doors and the adjacent areas (marshaled goods) are monitored from SASLs attached to the ceiling, or mounted on walls or other structures, placing them out of harm’s way.

The ITCS Location Processor correlates tag location data from multiple SASLs, rendering both identification and accurate location information to enable refined business decisions to be made about the arrival, departure or location of tagged items. Note too that ITCS can deliver movement data which can be used to provide an alert in the event that goods are moved away from the area, without needing the goods to pass by a portal reader in order to be identified.

By employing sophisticated signal processing algorithms, ITCS eliminates spurious or extraneous tag reads; you read a tag but don’t know where the tag is actually located, which is a known and growing problem associated with conventional passive UHF RFID reader systems. This means that the locations of tags bring read are known with greatly improved accuracy to enhance the integrity of captured data resultant business process decisions. Right product, right door.

ITCS delivers a more cost effective approach to monitoring the movement of tagged goods at multiple adjacent dock doors (compared to multiple portal reader sub-systems, one per door), monitors adjacent staging areas (which portal readers can not achieve).