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Food supermarket use RFID to improve its delivery efficiency and reduce error
A Chinese chain food supermarket (“H”company in the following, asked Unnamed) deployed RFID system to improve its take-away delivery efficiency.
H company is a chain supermarket providing many kinds of fresh food all over China, they have hundreds of stores in the major cities, its vision is to let consumers to enjoy the freshest foods. Consumers can buy the foods in their stores or buy through its APP, and H promises to deliver the foods to consumers in 30 mins in the covered area of the store while consumer place the order in app. This is a challenge for supermarket operation, staff needs to choose the foods from different area, package them and then deliver them, while for seafoods, staff even needs to sort and weight them, all these processes take much time so they need to improve 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 area 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 are 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, RFID readers are deployed at each station of conveyor line, however, the challenge in this case is that
- Tag needs to be rugged since the container will be placed anywhere in the store where there is water, waste, oil and sometimes impact, vibration, etc;
- There is a distance between the container/hook and the reader, if adapting HF technology, tag may not be read if the container moves far away from the reader, if adapting UHF technology, since RFID tag can be read at long distance while containers and hooks are placed nearby, mistaken reading happens if the reader is not control well, which will result in wrong delivery and complaint.
As digitization solution supplier of H company, Uniworld approach to its strategic partner Crepak to solve above challenge, technical expert from Crepak chose Vibranium 40 UHF RFID tag for uniworld, Vibranium 40 is a rugged UHF tag can withstand water, waste, oil and vibration, also its special designed antenna can control its patent at narrow range, which would reduce mistaking reading. Also, there are 4 holes on the Vibranium 40 so that it can be mounted to the container via rivet for long term using. Also, Crepak helped Uniworld built a smart portal which integrates 1 RFID reader and 4 antennas, to avoid mistaking reading, two laser sensors are integrated to trigger the reading and stop reading, also the metal frame of portal is special designed to shield signals.
4 stores are set as pilot site 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 10 mins than before for each order and reduced the error to 0.1%, which is proven effective and improved 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.