Italian food company Granterre relies on RFID for 100% shipment accuracy and control
When storing and transporting food products, it is fundamental to ensure and maintain the single product’s quality and integrity. Food producers therefore pay utmost attention to their storage facilities and distribution networks.
Innovative technologies, such as RFID (radio frequency identification), can help optimize the food supply chain by streamlining processes and providing full visibility and traceability of the products. Automated processes and real-time information can significantly improve the distribution and storage ensuring food quality and safety.
RFID-enabled Food Supply Chain traceability and visibility
Granterre is a leading Italian Agri-food group, born from the merger of Grandi Salumifici Italiani and Parmareggio. Specialized in cured meats and cheese (primarily Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano), the group is one of the major players of food products made in Italy.
With 17 production sites, a distribution centre of 30.000 square meters and customers with about 25 thousand delivery points around the world, the group has a very articulated and extensive distribution network. Every day thousands of products travel throughout the supply chain (between production sites, distribution centres and final customers), demanding a very high level of efficiency and management.
To optimize the logistics processes and achieve full visibility of the entire supply chain, Granterre decided to deploy a tracking solution built around RFID technology. The system developed with Murata ID Solutions was deployed to accurately track the logistic units in real-time.
Gaining Supply Chain visibility and optimizing inbound/outbound processes
After a preliminary analysis and ROI evaluation, Granterre decided to apply RFID tags to all shipping units directly at the production sites. Each label is associated with a picking list related to an SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code) and contains information about the content and logistic history of the shipping unit.
Thanks to RFID gates, installed on the dock doors of the production sites and the distribution centre, every single pallet of products is automatically verified in inbound and outbound. The id-BridgeTM4.0 middleware manages the RFID deployment. As the shipping units pass through the dock door during loading/unloading, the RFID tag is automatically scanned and information about the unit load is real-time updated on the dashboard. If id-BridgeTMdetects a tag not associated to the shipment (in case of wrong destination or load sequence) it sends an alarm, and the error is highlighted either on the field user interface or on the dashboard. In this way both the field operator and the logistics manager are informed right away and can quickly undo the error. Before the RFID implementation, mis-shipment errors caused an out of stock that impacted current and future sales of retailers that didn’t receive the product they ordered. In case of an out of stock in fact sales are zero, and automatic reorder systems interpret it as a demand decline and decrease orders. RFID ensures that all ordered products and quantities are shipped to the right retailer and therefore that the product is available for sale.
Thanks to the immediate warning in case of mismatching, Granterre has increased the shipping accuracy to 99.95%.
As RFID labels are scanned automatically and without line of sight, the automatic reading of the shipping units at the dock doors has also limited the amount of manual work required. Thanks to RFID technology, loading and unloading times have been halved. This impacts not only on transportation costs, but makes downstream processes (picking, sorting, packing) faster and more efficient, since the product is available earlier.
By tagging the pallets and shipment units, the RFID system enables Granterre not only to optimize inbound and outbound flows, cutting loading/unloading time and reducing errors, but also to ensure total visibility of the entire supply chain benefitting their customers with accurate tracking information of their shipments. In short, the solution has the following benefits:
- Shipping accuracy improved to 99.95%
- Elimination of mis-shipments - wrong pallet to the wrong customer
- Loading/unloading time reduced by over 50% (no need to scan by hand)
- 100% visibility of all the shipments to and from the distribution centre
- Reduction of out of stock and therefore an increase of the service level and ultimately, current and future sales
Further evolution: customer integration and RFID applied at box level
With the positive outcome of the solution, going forward Granterre hopes to expand the system. The possibilities are manifold, any RFID roll-out can in fact be scaled over time in order to continually build new applications and benefits into the project.
As next steps Granterre is considering the possibility to integrate the solution downstream with their customers, which would result in an even higher level of supply chain visibility and efficiency. Since the system deployed by Granterre is adopting GS1 standards, the solution is already compatible in any environment (the RFID tags applied by Granterre can be recognized by any partner’s or customer’s RFID solution based on the standards).
Another desired evolution concerns the application of the tag at box level and its usage for inventory management.