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Article | February 28, 2006
RFID tags take the heat
Almost all of E&PS’s shipments to Wal-Mart are full loads. However, for its less-than-pallet-load “partial shipments”—orders of 100 or so calculators—E&PS bundles two to three cases together via shrink wrap as a unit load to ship to a DC or direct to a particular store.
“Shrink” means using a heat tunnel of course. Personnel had concerns for the tags’ viability in the tunnel’s 350º heat so E&PS conducted its own tests using temperature gauges.
“We found that the temperature inside the tunnel would reach 350 degrees but the actual tags on the cases never got hotter than 180 degrees” says Shields. “We didn’t have to change our bundling process because every RFID inlay we tested read after being shrink wrapped. I think this was good data regarding heat and RFID tags in actual applications that we had not found anywhere else in the industry.”
For the shrink wrapped bundles every case has its own individual RFID tag but there’s not a separate “master case” tag for each bundled unit.
As the back-to-school promotions ramp up starting in late spring E&PS will be RFID-enabling its “Special Packs” store-ready point-of-sale promotional displays. Made of corrugated these are single sided double sided or four-sided units “whatever the customer wants” Shields says. Each style has its own SKU identification. Shipped on a pallet the display units are assembled and filled before shipping and have an RFID smart label applied to the back. Shields expects these RFID-tagged units to provide better visibility into replenishment of Special Packs at the retailer: “We’ll also know when they end the promotion and move the Special Pack to [Wal-Mart’s RFID reader- equipped] box crusher. This will help us to help Wal-Mart reduce out of stocks.”
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