The Reusable Pallet & Container Coalition has launched an initiative in the United States to demonstrate the value of linking multiuse radio-frequency-identification tags and reusable containers of plastic and other materials.
Washington-based RPCC believes ``reusable transport packaging - unlike one-way packaging - will be the enabler for the successful integration of RFID technology within the supply chain,'' said RPCC President David Rodgers. Rodgers also is senior vice president of Orbis Container Services in Arroyo Grande, Calif., a subsidiary of Orbis Corp. RPCC announced the effort in an Aug. 16 news release.
Under discussion since early 2005, the initiative represents a start on RFID-tagged container trials in the U.S. at a time when ``Europe is ahead of us,'' said Patrick Kennedy, vice president of marketing and sales with the Kennedy Group in Willoughby, Ohio.
Standards organization EPCglobal Inc. is soon expected to release preliminary results of tests in Europe.
``As technology advances, the learning curve is improving'' and tag costs are dropping, Kennedy said in a telephone interview.
The market arrival of Generation 2 RFID tags is having an impact, according to Kennedy, RPCC leader for the RFID project.
Different RFID solutions are needed for each type of plastic reusable pallet and container, said Brad Bella, director of information technology with Orbis Corp. in Oconomowoc, Wis.
``Tag placement and orientation will have a tremendous effect,'' Bella said. High carbon content in the black colorant of a returnable plastic container ``can work against it'' in the RFID world, he said.
The current RPCC project has three phases. RPCC retained Michael McCartney, principal of QLM Consulting Inc. of Sausalito, Calif., to oversee all aspects of the program.
First, an RFID research and development laboratory at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo will conduct tag readability tests and associated performance metrics during the week of Sept. 11-15. Tali Freed directs the lab.
Second, McCartney will create a go-to-market user economic model for multiuse RFID tags.
Third, depending on the initial results, RPCC plans to conduct a pilot field test in early October with a container management pooler, a grower-shipper, a retailer and probably a reverse logistics house.
The test will use passive electronic product code-compliant tags meeting Gen 2 specifications for multiple reading and writing operations.
RPCC has 26 corporate members.