Forklifts find fruit faster

News Story
- 1 May 2008 ( #358 ) - WELLINGTON, New Zealand
2 min read
Real-time inventory tracking is now a reality.
Real-time inventory tracking is now a reality.
Australian RFID innovator Peacock Bros. has just completed its first full installation at a fruit distribution warehouse in New Zealand, resulting in a vastly improved turn-around of product for the distributor which handles over a million pallets of fruit a year.

The project involves the use of RFID-equipped forklifts to pinpoint the tracking of pallets, in combination with the indoor positioning system developed by US warehouse asset tracking provider Sky-Trax.

The combination of the two technologies has resulted in a system that not only tracks the position of forklifts used in the warehouse, thereby keeping track of the productivity of each driver, but also ensures exact location of the inventory as well.

"You can leave a RFID pallet of stock in the middle of the floor and it will display the pallet's exact location. Pallets can be stored up to six pallets high and 20 pallets deep with complete visibility. Missing stock becomes a thing of the past as accurate stock rotation is no longer a problem," explains marketing co-ordinator Craig McKenzie.

He tells News that through the use of RFID tags on the pallets and installation of readers on the forklifts, the huge costs involved in equipping a warehouse with RFID readers were avoided.

Using a patented optical image reader called Sky-I mounted on the top of the vehicle and pointed upwards, this tracking solution can determine the position, speed and direction of the forklift by references to roof-suspended Sky-Markers. The Sky-I optical reader communicates with a vehicle-mounted mobile computer such as an Intermec CV30 or Motorola VC5090 connected to any WIFI wireless network.

The solution developed for the 26 forklifts used in the warehouse is completely wireless and has full RFID functionality. The backrest of every forklift is self-powered and connected to the mobile computer via Bluetooth. A location, direction and speed tracking Sky-I connects directly into the mobile computer without additional power supplies and antennae.

Peacock Bros. developed these upgrades which have increased the efficiency and reliability of the vehicle tracking system and also perform additional inventory tracking functions due to the RFID component including position tracking of RFID-tagged pallets.

Sky-Trax is completely independent with no ongoing access costs and can be fitted in dark, cold, hot or even exposed warehouses without any interference in operational accuracy. It can manage a single vehicle or an entire indoor fleet.

Included OPSman software tracks the movements of all indoor vehicles and generates reports on operational efficiency, downtime, heavy traffic areas and hazard zones. An additional "breadcrumb" feature highlights the areas of the warehouse that receive the most traffic so that work areas can be adjusted for maximum efficiency.

Constant real-time monitoring without errors ensures that the operation can track and trace vehicles and stock at any time and control operations as the events occur.

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