Tesco begins RFID rollout

Tesco begins RFID rollout

British supermarket chain Tesco has begun rolling out an RFID network to track shipments from its central distribution center to all 98 of its Tesco Extra superstores, with completion set for Christmas this year.

In line with the retailer's Secure Supply Chain initiative, the retailer will attach RFID tags to its own shipping trays and pallets at its national distribution center in Milton Keynes before being loaded and sent through its supply chain to retail stores.

"What customers want to know when they shop at Tesco is that the items they want to buy are available and on the shelves," said Tesco IT Director Colin Cobain.

"By extending our use of radio barcodes in our Secure Supply Chain initiative, we will be able to improve on-shelf availability while reducing shrinkage. We will start with using radio barcodes on high value goods and plan to expand our roll-out across our entire supply chain over the next few years."

As part of this rollout, Tesco will also equip its 40 Tesco trunk distribution centers with RFID technology in order to track arrival and departure of the tagged trays and pallets.

The move follows German retail chain Metro Group's decision to carry out a complete RFID rollout, something that again will affect hundreds of suppliers around Europe.

This particular rollout is scheduled to begin in November when 20 consumer products suppliers to the major international retailer will place RFID tags on pallets of goods, with another 80 suppliers scheduled to follow next year.

By January 2006, Metro Group plans to have 300 suppliers sending RFID-tagged pallets and cases to its distribution centers.

And Wal-Mart Stores, the biggest retailer of them all, is now just months away from its deadline for the top 100 suppliers to put tags on all pallets and cases. In Europe, legislation enforcing manufacturing traceability goes into effect in January, 2005.

Tesco has yet to name which company will supply the tags and readers for its planned deployment, but has selected RFID middleware specialists OATSystems to provide the software infrastructure for its RFID system.