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US Navy deploys forklift-based RFID

Wednesday, 20 Feb 2019 ( #911 ) - Ann Arbor, MI, United States
News Story
The US Navy is testing RFID-equipped forklifts
The US Navy is preparing to leverage the forklifts that travel around its shipyards to enable an RFID- and GPS-based solution to track containers at four US piers. The system will enable the Navy to collect data regarding where loaded or empty containers are located, by reading passive UHF RFID tags on containers via RFID interrogators, in conjunction with GPS, mounted on forklifts moving around the yard.

A report in the RFID Journal says the system, provided by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) using technology from Venture Research, will allow the Navy to more easily view the locations of its goods, as well as better manage the storage and movement of those products accordingly.

The installations, slated to begin this Northern Spring, will take place at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the Naval Station Pearl Harbour, the Naval Shipyard Portsmouth (in Maine) and the Naval Station Norfolk (in Virginia).

NCMS is serving as a consultant and project manager to help the Navy understand and deploy new technologies for the US military effort. The Navy approached the Center in December 2017, seeking a container management solution. The military agency sought a system that would enable it to identify not only that assets were in a specific port or storage yard, but also their exact location within that yard. Most RFID systems require fixed RFID readers to accomplish location tracking. Instead, NCMS wanted a solution that could provide RFID reads and GPS-based data linked to those read events, without requiring a fixed infrastructure of readers at each yard.

The Navy asked for proposals from its network of technology vendors for forklift-tracking devices.  It received a number of submissions and selected Venture Research last year, with development for the installations beginning in September.

The first system is being rolled out at the Puget Sound Naval pier, with the rest expected to follow at a rate of one new site every month.
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