Metro Group expands RFID tagging program

Thorofare, N.J. Metro Group is expanding its RFID “Tag It Easy!" program, which is being deployed in partnership with Checkpoint Systems. This third phase of the program will involve more than 75 Chinese and Indian consumer-goods suppliers, in addition to the 100 manufacturers already in the program from Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. “Tag It Easy!” participants apply RFID labels on shipments bound for Metro Group's facilities in Germany.

“Our partnership with Checkpoint is a significant step in introducing RFID into our supply chain,” said Dr. Gerd Wolfram, head of CIO-Office, Metro Group, which operates around 2,100 stores in 32 countries.

The "Tag It Easy!" program is part of the chain’s advanced logistics Asia initiative to improve logistics processes with its Asian suppliers, using RFID to track merchandise throughout the supply chain. Metro Group developed the program with Checkpoint to assist suppliers in using RFID within their operations. As an exclusive third-party solutions provider, Checkpoint continues to supply pre-printed RFID labels and services to suppliers in the region.

By using RFID to provide real-time visibility, Metro Group is increasing the efficiency of its supply chain, with the aim of improving the customer shopping experience. Suppliers benefit by eliminating manual counting and checking of export packages, enhanced proof-of-delivery information and more accurate shipping data, and also position themselves as reliable business partners in the highly competitive consumer-goods market.

“Since the program’s inception, the processing of incoming goods at warehouses and stores has been accelerated considerably and read rates using UHF EPC Gen 2 tags have been highly satisfactory,” Wolfram said. “Time-consuming manual counts are no longer necessary, and that means goods get to the individual stores much faster and easier. Our ultimate goal is to optimize both the efficiency and effectiveness of supply chain management. The key to achieving this lies in maximizing transparency in the flow of products and information upstream and downstream throughout the supply chain. This project has the capability of achieving such a transparency.”

With the advent of the third phase, Metro Group enjoys end-to-end visibility for an increasing volume of products, which is the basis for supply chain optimization. The “Tag it Easy!” project provides a scalable infrastructure supporting the tracking of high volumes of shipments of different varieties.

The RFID labels provided by Checkpoint store the serial shipping container code, which is read at several points along the supply chain between the region and Germany. Metro Group receives an electronic advance shipping notice detailing the contents of each shipment, and the suppliers receive automatic proof-of-delivery notifications. Suppliers order the RFID labels through the company's global supplier portal, Metro Link.

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