The furniture company, which generates about $150 million in annual revenue, says it has made a return on an initial $75,000 investment in the technology and is ready to expand beyond limited use of RFID tags.
Victory Land, a supplier to pro-RFID Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says it will begin shipping more of its product line with RFID tags on boxes and pallets as Wal-Mart expands use of RFID to distribution centers in June in two Texas cities, Palestine and New Braunfels, followed by Searcy, Ark., and Opelousas, La., in October.
Victory Land began shipping one product line, a 24-inch barstool, to Wal-Mart's Sanger, Texas, distribution center in January. It was one of about 35 small suppliers to volunteer for the retailer's RFID project to tag select cases and pallets a year before Wal-Mart's plan for widespread use of RFID in its distribution channel. "We decided to volunteer and start with a barstool," says Jennifer Diestl, account executive at Victory Land Group.
Many of the supplier's products are manufactured in Asia and shipped to Victory Land's Schaumburg, Ill., distribution center for final assembly. For the initial RFID project, each pallet holds six boxes, each containing a barstool, and every pallet and box is tagged.
The barstool's item and order numbers are pulled from the company's enterprise-resource-planning system, based on Exact Software N.V., and put into a Zebra R4M-Plus RFID label printer, says Hudson Magloire, operations analyst at Victory Land. It took R4 Global Solutions Inc. roughly five months to design and install the application that pulls and transfers data to the printer.
When product is moved by forklift through Victory Land's shipping doors and onto trucks, the tags on the pallet and boxes are identified by a reader supported by four antennas. A traffic-light device sits by the dock door. Lights in green, yellow, and red give the forklift driver an indication as to whether information from tags are received by the reader. An illuminated green light, for example, verifies that information from the tags has been recognized and communicated back to the ERP system. By transmitting data-shipment information back to the ERP system, Victory Land says it can better forecast product demand, which improves the bottom line.
When Victory Land breaks ground in spring 2006 on a 400,000-square-foot facility nearby Bartlett, Ill., it expects to have all of its products shipping with RFID tags. It plans to ask its materials suppliers to begin shipping their products with tags, too.
RFID is installed in 104 Wal-Mart stores, 36 Sam's Clubs, and three distribution centers. Wal-Mart plans to have RFID in up to 600 stores and 12 distribution centers by year's end.