DLA centers ready for RFID tagging

The Defense Logistics Agency's network of 19 distribution sites can now track supplies with radio frequency identification technology, the agency announced Tuesday.

RFID tagging will give the Defense Department global awareness of all military assets by using a unique identification to track each parcel as it moves through the military supply chain.

DLA’s Defense Distribution Center (DDC), based in New Cumberland, Pa., led the effort to augment the existing infrastructure by installing more than 200 additional RFID portals at DOD distribution centers nationwide. DLA operates one of the largest warehouses in the world, supplying nearly every consumable item to the military services and several civilian agencies.

For this upgrade, portals were placed at receiving doors, on small parcel conveyor lines, and as handheld readers, according to a DDC press release. The new portals can read Generation 1 and 2 RFID tags and are geared toward passive rather than active tags, the release states.

Passive RFID tags operate without a separate power source and obtain operating power from the reader, giving them unlimited lifespan. They are activated by the radio frequency they receive from transponder antennas.

Active RFID tags, which include independent power sources, are able to store larger amounts of information. Active, data-rich RFID tags were recently mandated for all materials entering Iraq.

The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, issued a policy in 2004 that requires suppliers to put passive RFID tags on all packaging, excluding bulk commodities, by 2005. That process is still ongoing.

“By expanding our capabilities to receive items tagged with passive RFID, DDC is in compliance with the DOD policy to make DOD distribution centers capable of receiving passive RFID tags as suppliers begin tagging their products in accordance with acquisition regulations,” said Janet Cravener, chief of DDC’s logistics operations policy division.

ODIN Technologies performed the installation of the portals at the DDC distribution centers. Psion Teklogix installed the software that extracts, interprets and transmits data collected by the portals to DDC’s warehouse and transportation management system.

DLA is using GlobeRanger’s iMotion Edgeware, which is based on the Microsoft .NET framework.

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