Siemens Business Services and Kuehne + Nagel connect Europe and the US with RFID

Kuehne + Nagel and Siemens Business Services have implemented a transatlantic RFID project. For the first time, radio frequency identification is being tested across a supply chain from Munich to New York under real conditions. RFID frequency standards differ between Europe and the US: The project will contribute to the development of common RFID standards.

Kuehne + Nagel and Siemens Business Services are carrying out the RFID pilot project together with printing systems manufacturer Océ and Lufthansa Cargo.

The project fully complies with Electronic Product Code (EPC) recommendations and marks the first RFID field test across a transatlantic supply chain from Munich in Germany to Mount Laurel/NJ in the US.

At the Océ manufacturing plant near Munich, printers and accessory kits are tagged with RFID transponders – the project utilises UHF RFID tags that operate both within the standard European and US frequency ranges, respectively. When the consignments are dispatched, a fork-lift truck passes through a reading station, or RFID gate, where the information stored on the tags is read and transmitted to a central SAP host.

Maximilian Meyer, Chief Financial Officer, Océ Printing Systems GmbH: "As printing systems producer we put the customer first. RFID technology will contribute to meeting customers' high service level requirements in future too."

At Kuehne + Nagel's warehouse at Munich Airport, the consignments pass a further RFID checkpoint and are then handed over to Lufthansa Cargo. The possibility of automatically tracking shipments at piece level by means of RFID will contribute substantially to the further development of the Cargo 2000 initiative. The next radio frequency checkpoint along the supply chain, located at Lufthansa Cargo's New York warehouse, marks the switch from European and American RFID standards. Here again the tags are read and the consignments then forwarded to Océ's US distribution hub in Mount Laurel/NJ, where they pass through a final RFID gate. All data are transmitted to the track & trace system of Kuehne + Nagel, KNLogin, and made available online.

"As logistics provider we expect RFID to facilitate the further optimisation and automation of supply chain and warehouse management processes," commented Thomas Engel, Chief Information Officer at Kuehne + Nagel International AG. "The technology's increased real-time capabilities offer an opportunity to complement barcode-based systems or even replace them."

Within the project, Siemens Business Services provides advisory support for all questions relating to hardware/software and processes, and handles the integration of the data in the Océ SAP system and the control of the RFID readers with the aid of an EPC-compliant Savant server application - the core of the RFID system. Winfried Holz, Head of the Global Business Unit for solutions business at Siemens Business Services, sees the project as an opportunity, together with the strong partners involved, to gather additional international practical experience with RFID. He explains: "Siemens offers the full range of IT and process consulting, including hardware and software, from a single source - even for international RFID projects."

RFID will revolutionise the logistics industry. The identification, control and monitoring of shipments outside the line of sight will enable the design of even more efficient and reliable supply chains.