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Focus: RFID and Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC)

Feature Article from Our RFID and AIDC Subject Area - See All

 

From SCDigest's OnTarget e-Magazine

- Dec. 8, 2015 -

 

RFID, IoT, and AIDC News: Datalogic Wins 2015 AIM Award for Applying High Speed Grocery Store Bar Code Scanner Portal to Returns Processing

 

Netherlands 3PL Simon Loos Automates Scanning of Returns from In-Store Displays

 

SCDigest Editorial Staff

For the past couple of years, SCDigest has reported on the progress of the Datalogic Jade X7 bar code scanning portal designed for us at the point of sale in grocery store applications, as has been demonstrated in recent years at the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) show in New York City each January.

SCDigest Says:

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Datalogic says this approach is currently being considered in similar applications, notably returns processing by eCommerce companies or the etail channels of traditional retailers.

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In that application, purchased items are unloaded from a shopping cart or basket onto a conveyor belt. The items are whisked through the sort of X-shaped scanner portal at a high rate of speed. The array of imaging scanners can read the item bar codes from a variety of angles, leading to high read rates. Even if the bar code cannot be read, the imager in some cases can actually read the human readable numbers below the bar code and still identify the item. In the case in which neither method delivers a read, the imaging system highlights the item on a display screen so store associates can manually process the item.

How items are handled after scanning depends on what systems integrator is deploying the technology. At the NRF 2015 show last January, one company used a sort of turntable approach that sent items for each customer to a specific lane for bagging.

At last year's show, Datalogic said it has a growing number of tests and pilots for the system, which can process items much faster than manual scanning by an associate. We've also noted that if this technology really catches on, it may delay or even kill any programs to label grocery items with item-level RFID tags for automated checkout processing.

Why? Because the incremental benefit in terms of both speed and accuracy versus this approach might be modest at best. The automated bar code scanning technology also does not require news cost in terms of applying RFID tags to the items during the manufacturing process, which has always been a huge barrier to RFID in the low margin consumer packaged goods business.

With that backdrop, we were semi-surprised to see that the AIM (formerly the Automatic Identification Manufacturers association) case study winner for 2015 went to Datalogic and one of its systems integrators for use of this portal scanner technology for an entirely different application - product returns from promotional displays in retail.

Simon Loos is the warehousing and value added logistics supplier for the largest retailers and CPG manufacturers in the Netherlands. One of the services it performs for those clients is to manage returns from in-store displays. Usually when the promotion is over for a given consumer goods manufacturer at a given retailer, the displays come back from the retailer with inventory still the fixture.

Such returns processing has always been a challenge, and why many manufacturers and retailers use Simon Loos to handle the process.

White traditionally one approach was to build a scan tunnel using an array of traditional fixed bar code scanners, that approach is expensive and may not even handle individual items. So most simply use manual bar code scanning by warehouse associates to track SKU and quantity of what has been returned, a slow and expensive process.

(RFID and AIDC Story Continued Below)

 

 
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Datalogic reseller Vierpool had a different idea, and took a Jade X7 reader and placed it atop a conveyor belt shortly after the returns discharge station at Simon Loos. Now, just one associate places items from the returned displays on to the belt, very rapidly because he or she does not need to do any scanning or worry about product orientation on the belt. Before, several associates were generally needed for this part of the returns process.

Items run through the portal scanner, where they are identified at high speeds almost identically to the process in a grocery store application. From there, they move on the conveyor to a packing area, where associates build cases from the returns to put back into the supply chain. (See image below.)

As a result of this change, productivity in this area has tripled, and personnel are better utilized. The system is achieving a first pass read rate in excess of 99%.

An image of the system with the in-line portal reader is shown below.



Use of Datalogic Portal Reader in Returns Processing Application

 

 

 

Datalogic says this approach is currently being considered in similar applications, notably returns processing by eCommerce companies or the etail channels of traditional retailers.

SCDigest will have an update on this technology for oth grocery and non-grocery coming out of the NRF 2016 show in January.

Do you see this autoomated bar code scanner having applications for returns processing or other warehouse applications? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

 

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