New Mobile RFID Infrastructure Kit Promises Real-time Visibility in "Last Mile"

Developed by Savi for the U.S. military, Portable Deployment Kit offers solution-in-a-case to bring RF to remote locations

Developed by Savi for the U.S. military, Portable Deployment Kit offers solution-in-a-case to bring RF to remote locations

Sunnyvale, CA — August 18, 2005 — Radio frequency identification (RFID) company Savi Technology has released a new compact, mobile RFID solution to support the war fighter deployed in such areas of operations as Iraq and Afghanistan, and with possible commercial applications for companies with operations in remote areas.

Called the Portable Deployment Kit (PDK), the full solution-in-a-case for the first time enables military logisticians to leverage RFID to track critical military supplies in near real-time into the "last tactical mile" of operations, according to Savi.

The PDK is a self-contained carrying case that delivers a "mobile RFID solution" and that addresses the long-time military challenge of supply chain visibility directly into the area of operations, referred to as "the last tactical mile," where there is no RFID fixed-reader infrastructure. The United States Marine Corps Systems Command is the first customer and has placed an initial order for 100 units to be deployed in Southwest Asia.

To meet the military's exacting requirements for "last mile" visibility, rapid force deployments, flexibility and mobility, Savi engineers worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for more than a year to design, develop, test and deploy the PDK. It went through rigorous testing in Kuwait and Iraq, during which Savi learned valuable lessons regarding war fighter needs. Savi's PDK offers a "mobile chokepoint solution" that integrates several automatic identification and data collection (AIDC) technologies, including bar codes, 2D bar codes, active RFID and GPS location and satellite communications, all in a single carrying case.

According the Savi, the benefits of the PDK include enabling logisticians to rapidly locate, order and transport the right supply chain asset — whether it's bullets or boots — to the right area of operation at the right time without a fixed RFID infrastructure; providing satellite communications to the DoD's In-Transit Visibility (ITV) network, which is the world's largest active RFID cargo tracking system that Savi helped to build; and providing a complete solution in a light-weight single carrying case that can be transported by a single individual and powered by a vehicle, such as a Humvee.

"The PDK is a fully operational solution right out of the box that can be easily transported at a moment's notice to meet the military's need to locate supplies at any time and anywhere," said David Stephens, Savi's senior vice president for public sector. "It's also much more than just a mobile chokepoint solution for supplies equipped with active RFID devices. It is also a nested visibility solution that can leverage a wide range of automatic identification and data collection technologies that are used to keep track of supplies."

Stephens also emphasized that while the PDK was initially built for military applications, it can also be used more broadly in other government sectors and commercial enterprises for near real-time tracking and management of a range of supply chain assets and shipments in remote locations where there is no fixed infrastructure, such as for the chemicals, oil and gas industry.

The PDK is configurable and operational right out of the box, Savi said, with no additional software configuration required onsite. RFID and AIDC data is collected by the mobile reader, communicated to and processed by the Savi SmartChain Site Manager in the kit, and then transmitted to the DoD's ITV network server via an Iridium modem with GPS to provide exact location (latitude and longitude). Tags can also be read and modified onsite with the Savi handheld Mobile Reader.

The kit also includes a Zebra printer for military shipment labels to support unit move changes. The Savi PDK can also operate unmanned for remote operations.

"The PDK is the result of collaborative efforts between Savi Technology and the DoD's PM J-AIT office to address the challenge of getting supply chain visibility in austere environments," said Lt. Col. Beth Rowley of the Product Manager for Joint-Automatic Identification Technology (PM-J-AIT) office, which oversees RFID procurement contracts for the DoD and operates the RF-ITV system. "The PDK brings a needed additional resource to everyone involved in rapidly adjusting to and meeting the military's often-changing logistics requirements."

Additional Articles of Interest

— Your company's back-end supply chain may be so efficient that you are the envy of all your competitors. But what about the customer-facing portion? Taking a look at the "last mile" in your supply chain may be what it takes to ensure your customers come back to you  and not your competitors  time and again. Read more in the article "The Last Mile Is the Longest Mile."

— Think your distribution operations have been put to the test? A closer look at the U.S. Army's multi-million-square-foot distribution center that was established in Kuwait two years ago to support Operation Iraqi Freedom provides some insight for companies looking improve distribution operations under harsh conditions. Read more in "Lessons from the Operation Iraqi Freedom Theater Distribution Center to Improve Your Supply Chain Operations," an exclusive.

— RFID technology has the potential to change the way supply chains are managed, but in order to be effective businesses need to take a holistic look at the deployment. Read more in the article "Time for RFID: Applying RFID in the Supply Chain."