International Paper Offers RFID Solution Testing

Memphis facility allows customers to see radio frequency identification systems in action prior to deployment

Memphis facility allows customers to see radio frequency identification systems in action prior to deployment

Memphis, TN — February 9, 2005 — While International Paper might be best known, well, for its paper, the company has also gotten into the business of developing and deploying customized radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions designed to help customers better manage their supply chains and meet mandates.

The company develops RFID solutions at its integrated warehouse demonstration, testing and training facility. The Customer Solution Center (CSC), which opened for business in June 2004, is a non-temperature controlled warehouse, complete with concrete floors and walls, metal racking and a host of industrial equipment that gives customers a real-world warehouse environment.

At this facility, which is located in Memphis, Tenn., International Paper tests and creates RFID solutions with the latest reader and tag technology, including portal and dock door readers, high-speed conveyor readers and the company's own fork-lift-based solution.

"We conduct testing for our customers to ensure they purchase the RFID solution that works best with their product's packaging and meets their business needs," said Gary Lofrese, manager of the CSC. "With rapid adoption of the technology and standards within the industry, it is exciting to participate in this developing field as we witness improvements in tag design and reader performance on a daily basis."

With customers from the automotive, consumer packaging, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, retail and technology markets, International Paper said it is equipped to meet their different needs and help them better manage their supply chains. More than 100 current and prospective customers have visited the CSC since its opening, and many have commented on coming away with a better understanding of RFID and an appreciation for International Paper's investment in the center.

"Being able to see the practical applications here at the Customer Solutions Center got me past the barrier of whether or not something can be done, said William Littlejohn, manager of project operations for Sears. "IP has made an investment in technology with an eye on what the future holds."

Another customer, Electronic Arts, tested RFID solutions for their video game packages at the CSC. "The investment that International Paper has made and the amount of experience that it has in RFID is obvious from seeing the wide range of applications at the Customer Solution Center," said John Hefty, director of technical systems and facilities for Electronic Arts. "It shows the commitment the company has made in providing this technology to its customers."

The team from Electronic Arts tested a variety of RFID reader and tag solutions. After the trial, Ira Oehler, systems administrator for Electronic Arts, said, "International Paper's product testing saves us time and money by preventing us from buying the wrong tags and readers."

Within the Customer Solution Center, International Paper's team of engineers and technicians perform the following RFID tests to help customers select the right solutions:

  • Tag Evaluation — Identify performance and readability of tagged cases to qualify tag selection, positioning and orientation. Perform static tests against a variety of stationary readers to measure tag distance, determine tag sensitivity and optimize tag location on a case.

  • Conveyor Evaluation — Confirm performance of tagged cases on a 600 foot-per-minute (fpm) conveyor to meet mandates from major retailers. Perform dynamic tests on a high speed conveyor against a variety of stationary readers to determine readability of the applied tag in motion.

  • Portal Evaluation — Determine performance of palletized items in a distribution dock-door application. Perform dynamic tests using portals with a variety of stationary readers to determine readability of tags at the case and pallet level.

  • Distribution Testing — Confirm product and tag ability to survive the warehouse and distribution handling environment. Testing adheres to International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) procedures to ensure reliability through a transportation simulation.
The CSC also provides handling, distribution and environmental condition testing — including impact, vibration, compression, temperature and humidity.

In addition, International Paper said it has partnered with a variety of hardware and software providers in the industry to offer testing of a variety of applications and technology, as well as complete RFID solutions.

"Our partners and customers realize that the Customer Solution Center is the perfect venue for idea generation and innovation," said Mike Anderson, IT director for International Paper's Smart Packaging business. "This includes developing the right approach, process changes and complete system for a successful RFID implementation."

Established in 1999, Smart Packaging is a consulting and integration services business offering customers a suite of RFID/EPC-enabled products and services ranging from compliance solutions to warehousing and transportation tracking systems to the retail shelf.

For a contrary view of the future of the RFID market, see the article "The O'RFID Factor: A 'No Spin' Look at Where Radio Frequency Identification Is Headed," in the October/November 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

For more information on trends relating to radio frequency identification, follow this link for an extensive listing of articles, featuring the latest research findings on the RFID, including adoption, return on investment and barriers to implementation.

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