A Chinese chain food supermarket ("H" company in the following, asked unnamed) deployed an RFID system to improve its takeaway delivery efficiency.
H company is a chain supermarket providing many kinds of fresh food all over China, it has hundreds of stores in the major cities, and its vision is to let consumers enjoy the freshest foods. Consumers can buy the foods in their stores or through their APP, and H promises to deliver the foods to consumers in 30min in the covered area of the store when a consumer places the order in-app. This is a challenge for supermarket operation, staff needs to choose the foods from different areas, package them and then deliver them, as for seafood, the staff even need to sort and weight them, all these processes take a lot of time so they need to improve the efficiency of each process and improve the instore flow. H company organized a team to evaluate the whole process and developed a solution with logistic equipment providers and digitization solution providers, they deployed an automatic conveyor line in the store, staffs sort and pick each item at different areas and hang it on the conveyor hook, the barcode of food and hook are scanned to associate, then in the warehouse, foods in the same order will be placed in the same container, then the sorting line will automatically dispatch each container to each deliveryman.
All above process is automatically to reduce time on sorting, packaging, and delivery, RFID is a proven technology to enable automatic and accurate identification, RFID tags are mounted on picking hooks and containers, the RFID reader device is deployed at each position of the conveyor line, however, the challenge, in this case, is that:
1. Tag needs to be rugged since the container will be placed anywhere in the store where there is water, waste, oil and sometimes with impact, vibration, etc;
2. There is a distance between the container/hook and the reader, if HF technology is adopted, the tag may not be read if the container moves far away from the reader if UHF technology is adopted since RFID tag can be read at a long distance while containers and hooks are placed nearby, mistaken reading happens if the reader is not controlled well, which will result in wrong delivery and complaints.
Fig. Vibranium 40 Durable UHF RFID Tag
As a digitization solution supplier of H company, Uniworld approach to its strategic partner Crepak, as one of the best RFID solution providers, to solve the above challenge, technical experts from Crepak chose the Vibranium 40 UHF RFID tag for Uniworld. Vibranium 40 is a rugged UHF tag that can withstand water, waste, oil, and vibration, and its specially designed antenna can control its patent at a narrow range, which would reduce mistaken reading. Also, there are 4 holes on the Vibranium 40 so that it can be mounted to the container via rivet for long term use. Also, Crepak helped Uniworld built a smart portal that integrates 1 RFID reader and 4 antennas to avoid mistaken reading, two laser sensors are integrated to trigger the reading and stop reading, also the metal frame of the portal is specially designed to shield signals.
Check the below video for details:
4 stores are set as pilot sites from 2018, the system has been deployed in these 4 stores with data capture and analysis back end system, the pilot run takes more than 1 year, the analysis report showed that it saved around 10min than before for each order and reduced the error to 0.1%, which is proven effective, improving customer satisfaction. Top management of H company was very satisfied with this result and decided to prompt it to all the existing stores and new stores, the deployment in hundreds of stores will last for 1 year.