WhereNet's the Beef?

Retailer turns to real-time locating system for better asset visibility at distribution center

Santa Clara, CA  March 13, 2002  Grocery and general merchandise retailer Meijer, Inc. has deployed a real-time locating system (RTLS) at Tipp City, Ohio, distribution center, to gain visibility into the location of every type freight at the center, from steaks to kitty litter to shovels.

Meijer has deployed the RTLS, from solution provider WhereNet, along with WhereNet's yard management software, WhereSoft Yard, which provides a central database through which internal customers or retail store personnel can access the status of freight.

Through active radio-frequency tags mounted on trailers, a local infrastructure of antennas and WhereNet's visibility software, the RTLS system is able to locate every tagged trailer in real time to within 10 feet, eliminating manual searches for misplaced assets. The yard management software provides a single, integrated view that reports the real-time status of assets at the distribution complex.

"For a company founded during the Depression, we are always looking for ways to operate more efficiently so that we can continue to pass along savings to our guests," says Dave Mulder, director of outbound logistics for 68-year-old Meijer. "WhereNet provides an opportunity to do that."

WhereNet says its system frequently can pay for itself in less than a year through fleet reduction, more efficient utilization of labor and a reduction of nonvalued-added tasks. Because the systems lets yard personnel know where all of their trailers are at all times, they can handle the same volume with fewer trailers, while end-user stores can schedule labor for deliveries according to departure information captured by the RTLS at the distribution complex. And managers no longer have to direct workers to locate misplaced assets around the yard.

In addition, the system can let stores know exactly what is coming and the arrival time, which can streamline their receiving process, and security guards can gain greater visibility to suspicious trailer movement and can be alerted through real-time messages sent via the WhereNet system.