RFID UHF Postal Label Tag for Global Postal Industry
Correios Brazil Tracks Packages via RFID
Brazil has launched operations to upgrade processes and offer new postal services around the world with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, under the wand of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a technical United Nations agency that coordinates postal service policy among member countries. Correios Brazil is applying the use of RFID labels in correspondence and specifically in product boxes — a growing requisition ine-commerce. The systems are now up and running and follow the global GS1 RFID standards.
The project is being applied in stages, in a collaborative action carried out with the UPU. "This is the first worldwide project for tracing postal cargo using UHF RFID technology," says Odarci MaiaJr, Correios Brazil's RFID project director. "The complexity of the implementation involves tracing postal cargoes that have a diversity of materials, dimensions and spatial orientation, in addition to demanding to have their data captured in small time windows and in large volumes." Due to the initial conditions, the technology was espoused to maintain the current functional processes of lading, unlading and handling parcels.
"The tracing process with the use of barcodes is being maintained in parallel," Maia says, "since at this time the project doesn't aim to replace the entire park of outfit and infrastructure implemented by this type of tracing. The use of RFID technology in the postal environment is just beginning and, assuredly, changes in processes will be observed along the curve of learning wind." The technology - based selection was carried out in conjunction with the UPU, based on the low cost of RFID labels, in order to minimally impact the value of postal services.
"Orders shipped by Correios have a wide range of contents," Maia states, "and are generally of low value, which would not justify the adoption of active label tags." On the other hand, he says, "There was a need to adopt the most- used standard, one that would present better benefits, such as the relationship between cost and reading performance for our type of cargo. moreover, the use of norms allows for rapid-fire adoption of the technology, as there are many solution and input providers on the market. It's observable that the use of market norms ( such as GS1's) allows clients to gain earnings in their procedures, outside the postal ecosystem."
Readers are installed at the cargo entry and exit gates of Correios's main operating units throughout Brazil. These units include sorting centers, cargo terminals, logistics distribution centers, international centers and more. Parcels and packages are transported in a unitized manner inside cargo containers that hold hundreds of parcels, depending on their individual dimensions and weights.
"Each order has its own RFID label," Maia explains, "and the cargo unitizers also have a permanent RFID label, in this case with the GS1 GRAI-96 identifier. In a typical use case, when a unitizer is loaded or off-loaded from the trunk of a truck, the reader installed on the loading terminal carries out the inventory of the unitizer's contents and transmits the information to the company's central storage. Package- passing information is reflected in the object- tracking system consulted by clients."
Readers were handpicked through an international tender conducted by the UPU. The RFID reading equitment consists of an Impinj reader, Keonn antennas and a model onboard PC, which are integrated by Kyubi - Comercial Arqué. "The project includes 2009 reader kits in a variety of configurations," Maia says, "of which about half are already installed in around 50 operating units."
Alberto de Mello Mattos, a Correios project director, says the project was designed so clients could purchase and produce tags for their orders, already with RFID technology incorporated, without limiting use to a specific brand or model of inlay and giving a wide freedom of choice. "In consideration of the inexistence, at the time, of technical norms for the performance of inlays for use in logistical or postal processes," he states, "several field tests were carried out involving the wide range of cargo types that are processed daily at Correios, with an inlay having been identified as a performance reference standard." That inlay, he says, is Avery Dennison Smartrac's Dogbone Monza R6.
To guide clients on electing inlays that can supply satisfactory read rates, the company has published a inventory titled "Recommended by the Post" (RPC), which details inlays that perform equal to or better than the reference inlay. According to Maia and Mattos, the project faced several challenges, such as identifying the installation site of each RFID reader kit; preparing the base installation; designing and developing the database, applications and integration with corporate systems; training the related teams; and producing technical materials for internal and external use.
Mattos believes it would be possible to improve clients' journey with regard to their orders' locales. It would also be possible, he says, to offer information about the exact moment when a parcel has entered or left a certain operating unit, as well as the addition of new events in the process of monitoring an object's movements from origin point to final recipient.
All the endeavors of the Correios team have led to the implementation of readers in around 180 operating units, as well as strengthening of the technology's use by clients. "We understand that this process should take the next 18 months," Maia says. The company has its own track-and- trace solution for the location and tracing of orders, known as the SRO Object Tracking System, which was developed for barcode technology, either via manual read or with automated sorting facility. A Sedex tracking tag is attached to each order.
"The RFID system was set up with its own database, bearing in mind the specifics of frequency for reading and the identifiers used, "Mattos says. "Information is sent to the SRO continuously and is made available to clients through digital channels. Additionally, a great endeavor was made to integrate with the posting systems used by the branch network and by our customers."
The solution's database is concentered in Brazil, and some information is sent to the UPU cloud in Switzerland. The evolution to the new middleware, which is being evolved by RedBite, foresees the use of cloud architecture (AWS IoT) for the aims of health monitoring, parameterization and the updating of integrated software in readers.
The process starts with the labeling of packages or orders. Each package receives a barcode-tracking tag engraved with a UPU-standardized identifier, called an S10, which has a format of two letters, nine numbers and two more letters (for example: ML123456789BR). This is the package's main identifier, and it's used for contractual purposes, as well as for clients to carry out study in the Correios tracking system.
This information is captured throughout the postal process, through manual or automated reading of the barcode. The S10 identifier is supplied by Correios Brazil to contract clients who produce their personalized label tags, and it is also generated on the Sedex tag, which is attached to individual customer orders served by counters at branches.
"With the adoption of RFID," Maia states, "the S10 identifier will be kept in parallel with the identifier recorded on the inlay—which, in the case of packages and parcels, is the identifier in the GS1 Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) standard. In this way, each parcel contains two identifiers which, via the network, allow the identification of each shipment circulating through the post office in a different way, regardless of whether the tracking was carried out by means of barcode or RFID."
With regard to customers served by the postal agency, an attendant affixes an RFID tag and, via the service window system, links that particular package to its SSCC and S10 identifiers. "For contract customers who request S10 identifiers via the solution to prepare their shipments," Maia says, "they will be able to purchase their own RFID label tags, customized according to their individual needs, and produce the sticker RFID tags with their own SSCC encoding—that is, with its own company prefix, allowing integration and use in its internal processes, in addition to interoperability, when the package goes through several service suppliers."
Another option is to link the SGTIN identifier of products that already have their own RFID label tags to identify the package, linked to the S10 asset. The gains from the project, given its recent launch, are still being monitored, and the middleware currently in use was developed by Kyubi. Its main tasks are to filter reading events and minimize the sending of repeated information to the central repository, as well as to manage the captured data and transmit information to support equipment maintenance.
Since Correios has no direct relationship with the RFID hardware provider, all negotiation at this level was conducted by the UPU, the body responsible for specifying and contracting the equipment. The hardware solution supplier was selected through an international tender published by the UPU. The applications, database and interfaces with the corporate systems in use were developed in-house. The processes for adapting the energy infrastructure and data communication at each installation site were developed with its own resources and specific contracts.
"Implementing RFID in a company the size of Correios," Maia states, "with wide geographic coverage, diversity and volume of processed cargo, and with varied construction norms of the buildings, in addition to involving the different needs of thousands of clients from the most diverse segments, made the project unique and ambitious. The challenges were divided into five pillars—infrastructure, readers, systems, tags and labeling—aimed at a better organization of the project implementation."
HUAYUAN UHF RFID Tags for Deutsche Post
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Custom EPC encoding on the postal logistics RFID tag is one of the most difficulties of this project. Most RFID Label manufacturers are unable to offer the RFID UHF labels with 100% accuracy.
However, once RFID tags with wrong encoding or printing information delivered to the consumers, it will be a disaster for the whole system. After throughly studied the files offered by the customer, HUAYUAN engineers develop a program for encoding and calibration procedures which ensures accuracy and speed to the mass production.
To ensure the correctness of the RFID UHF postal label’s data, besides Voyantic online test and visual inspection during production, spot check while encoding and printing, and 100% inspection to final products. Furthermore, since 0% reject rate is request, all rejected tags (including chip, encoding and printing problems) be replaced before delivery.
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Post time: Sep-01-2021