GS1 in Europe, a collaboration of 44 European GS1 member organisations that are part of the global not-for-profit standards and solutions organisation, has announced the successful completion of phase one of the European Pallet Association (EPAL) EPC/RFID pilot programme.
The objective of the pilot was to develop a business plan to clarify the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in standard EPAL wooden pallets (EURO pallets), specify a corresponding network and discover the technical and organisational requirements for implementation. EPAL has recognised significant benefits in implementing RFID/EPC technology to uniquely identify its pallets including improved supply chain efficiency, asset visibility and pallet security.
Following the completion of the EPC/RFID pilot involving all GS1 EPCglobal standards, EPAL has identified opportunities to improve the control of production and repair of EURO pallets, authenticate individual pallets, reduce the number of counterfeit pallets and improve supply chain efficiency. It is also looking at streamlining the administration and information exchange of users within the EPAL system, a cross sector open pallet exchange pool.
There are currently over 500 million wooden EURO pallets in circulation, which are standardised and certified by EPAL. Under the pallet associations control and license, more than 60 million new pallets a year are produced in 30 countries with over 1,000 repair centres worldwide.
We are very satisfied with the results of the pilot programme. The EPC/RFID technology, the tag concept and the IT infrastructure have been approved and are seen as a very good solution for EPAL, says Harry Jacobi, CEO of EPAL. The second phase of the project will answer all the remaining questions and will help us to prepare a roll-out.
The results of the EPAL EPC/RFID pilot program are very promising and we are looking forward to the pre-rollout phase. Nevertheless, there are still open issues to solve such as the number of tags fixed on a pallet for optimal reading, the date stored on the tag, the handling of the GS1 Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) and others which need to be solved within the next six months in order to enable a full rollout, says Stephane Pique, EPC/RFID European Director of GS1 in Europe. There is a need to align our work with other pallet pools to create a standard that is beneficial to all pallet users. To address this issue, a specific GS1 EPCglobal interest group has been launched.
A second phase and pre-rollout of the pilot program will take place in 2009. The pilot will involve additional countries and will focus on the RFID tag requirements and the development of a more detailed concept addressing process, IT and RFID infrastructure for implementation.