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Tesco is to start using RFID tags to track the delivery of milk from supplier Robert Wiseman Dairies (RWD) to distribution plants and stores.
The move signals the next phase of Tesco's RFID plans, which involve using permanent radio tags on "returnable transport items" such as the cages and trolleys that are used when goods are delivered from distribution centres to the supermarket stores.
This new "Unit of Delivery" stage follows on from Tesco's initial RFID trials which began in 2003 and involved the use of disposable tags to track the high-value goods most susceptible to being stolen by shoplifters, including razor blades and mobile phones.
The RWD pilot will see tags permanently applied to a number of milk cages that will be used at two trial Tesco stores. These tags will be read at key points in the supply chain, including as the trolleys leave RWD, when they arrive at a Tesco store and as they move onto the shop floor.
The tags will be able to track the delivery and journey of each individual trolley.
The technology being used includes hardware from ADT/Tyco, software from OATSystems and tags from Integrated Product Intelligence.
Tesco said it aims to roll out the use of RFID tags for tracking trolleys and cages through the supply chain to all its shops and depots in the UK over the next few years.
But the supermarket said it has no definite plans for the future use of RFID tags on individual items.
A Tesco statement said: "We are working with our business colleagues and suppliers to understand the future for item-level tagging at Tesco. We believe there are number of areas where there are opportunities to develop an item-level solution. We have yet to identify a product area. However, any trials will be focused on high value items and will be targeted at specific business and customer needs."
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