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12/15/2004
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Logistics Provider Uses Active RFID to Manage 60-Acre Facility

Active RFID tags will help American Port Services track hundreds of trailers as they move through a massive facility, eliminating manual processes along the way.

Third-party logistics provider American Port Services is replacing its manual trailer-tracking process with AeroScout Inc.'s visibility system, which will be fully deployed at a 60-acre cross-docking facility operated by American Port in the next few days to help track hundreds of trailers using Wi-Fi-based active radio-frequency identification tags and server-based software.

In the past, the Savannah, Ga., facility relied on a labor- and time-intensive manual process. American Port was looking for a system that would not only offer a variety of capabilities such as Wi-Fi and active RFID, but one that could also be easily integrated with the company's existing yard-management system, says Jeff Meraz, manager of information systems and IT at American Port. "We were looking for a solution to help us do more efficient tracking of our yards because we have a cross-dock facility with over 1200 slots in it, and it's very time-consuming doing manual yard check and trying to locate trailers when there are 1,200 of them in the yard," Meraz says.

The AeroScout Visibility System is an integrated suite of hardware and software built around the AeroScout Engine server-based software. It uses Wi-Fi networks to locate and identify assets or people in indoor and outdoor environments, and the engine provides location and telemetry processing based on data collected over standard wireless radio frequencies.

American Port will use 20 AeroScout Receivers to track the facility's 1,000 trailer spaces across 60 acres. In a typical scenario, when a trailer enters the facility, it will be marked with AeroScout's Wi-Fi-based active RFID tag. As the trailer moves throughout the yard, the tag's location will be tracked in real time so it can be quickly located for loading and unloading. The information about a trailer's location and contents will then be integrated with American Port's yard-management system and shared with partners or customers, Meraz says.

Tracking thousands of high-value assets that move around a large area is challenging, and manual processes can become very inefficient, according to Andris Berzins, VP of marketing and business development at AeroScout. AeroScout's system helps to automate a lot of that work. Another problem that businesses are dealing with has to do with the fact that "they are looking at different kinds of RFID tags and trying to figure out what to deploy," Berzins says. AeroScout is "providing a system that gives a broader range of capabilities so that you'll be able to do more with that same ID tag," he says.

AeroScout unveiled last week the release of the latest version of its engine. Version 3.0's new and updated features include different location modes, such as real-time location tracking, event management, an updated user interface, and updated application programming interfaces. Additionally, the AeroScout Exciter hardware has been designed to trigger RFID tags to transmit at what's referred to as a choke point to provide instant notification that a tagged asset or person has passed through a gate, doorway, or another tightly defined area.

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