U.K. Defense Ministry Taps Savi

British military adopting RFID technology to track materiel from depot to front lines

Tempe, AZ  February 19, 2003  The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (MOD) has signed up to use radio frequency identification (RFID) systems from Savi Technology to track and manage military supplies in-transit from storage depots to frontline operations.

MOD personnel will use Savi's systems and technology infrastructure to capture, in real time, information about shipment status and location  whether by truck, rail, ocean or air  using a global network of fixed and portable handheld RFID readers. The systems transmit the information to secure applications operated by both the MOD and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

This contract culminates a lengthy selection process by the MOD to leverage automatic identification technologies (AIT) to improve operational efficiency and administrative productivity, speed up deployment and response times, cut costs associated with excess inventory, and automate and unify fragmented databases by using a common information infrastructure.

Savi's contract with MOD's Defense Logistics Organization (DLO) initially calls for affixing about 15,000 410 Series SaviTags onto conveyances such as ISO containers and pallets that are moved by trucks, rail cars, ships and air cargo planes. The smart tags communicate over radio frequencies with strategically placed readers, which in turn transmit information on the status of the shipment to a Web-based software system used by the MOD.

The result enables the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy to have real-time visibility of the conveyances and their contents, which range from food to ammunition, while being moved in-transit from about 20 U.K. depots to operational sites.

The order also calls for handheld reading devices, fixed and portable automatic data collection "readers," as well as Savi's "retrievers," which process and translate the data from the RFID hardware readers into computer language understood by software systems used by both the MOD and the U.S. military.

This is Savi Technology's first government defense-related partnership outside the U.S. DoD, for which Savi has helped build and maintain the in-transit component of the Total Asset Visibility (TAV) network, the world's largest active RFID cargo-tracking system that spans over 40 countries and 400 locations. Just last week the DoD awarded a three-year, $90 million procurement contract for RFID hardware and related logistics software and services to Savi (see related story).

"Logistical problems during Desert Storm more than a decade ago led the U.S. Department of Defense to deploy RFID technologies and software on the Internet to improve real-time visibility and management of military supplies," said Vikram Verma, Savi's CEO. "This technology has been proven day-in and day-out to monitor and dynamically manage shipments more efficiently in real-time."

For more information on wireless tracking solutions for the supply chain, see "Needle in a Supply Chain Haystack," the Net Best Thing column in the January 2002 issue of iSource Business.