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LONDON -- Tesco here today announced the trial with IBM of new radio barcode technology designed to provide improved product availability for customers. Two Tesco stores in the United Kingdom are taking part in the trial, and all trays of high-value goods arriving at these stores from the Tesco nonfoods distribution center in Milton Keynes carry a radio barcode.
Each radio barcode contains a microchip attached to an antenna. The chip contains a code, which is read when a radio wave is passed over it. This innovative device is attached to product trays and transportation units, and scanned when leaving the distribution center and rescanned on arrival at the stores. This reduces the time needed to process items delivered to the store, allowing quick replacement of products on the shop floor.
"This trial is helping us to gain better visibility in the supply chain from when the products leave our distribution center until they arrive at the store." says Colin Cobain, Tesco IT director." It is also helping us improve product availability for customers and makes life simpler for our staff while helping to identify stock losses."
The trial system, which takes advantage of the existing network infrastructure, was installed without disruption to Tesco's business operations.
"This solution is driving new levels of efficiency for Tesco, transforming how they track and manage their inventory," says Chris Mason, European retail supply chain leader at IBM. "Our partnership with Tesco demonstrates that radio barcode, or RFID, is a cost-effective technology we can integrate with existing systems to help retailers increase sales, reduce costs, and improve productivity, while building customer loyalty".
From the distribution center the goods are automatically tracked through to delivery at the stores. No physical checking is required, and at each stage the location of the product can be checked instantly with an intranet solution. The radio barcodes in the trial are attached only to the transportation units and product trays, not to the products in the store.
IBM has researched the application of radio barcodes to improve product availability on the retail shelf for retailers and consumers, and recently announced a comprehensive new service to help companies harness radio barcode technology for advanced product tracking and inventory control.