How RFID Technology Can Help With Plant Cart Tracking

Cart-with-RFID-Tag
With RFID technology installed in a shipping truck and RFID tags affixed to the shipping carts, it’s possible to track the location of carts, even when they’re in-transit. Photo by Raco Industries.

For years, radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology has been mostly used by the retail industry for the enormous benefits it brings to inventory tracking and management. For those who have ever had to scan dozens of individual barcodes in one sitting, the ability to instantly scan an entire skid full of incoming product is a big advantage.

RFID works incredibly well for these types of uses, but its drawbacks have historically kept it from being more prominent in other applications, especially when it comes to tracking shipping carts and racks in nurseries and greenhouses. One of the greatest challenges for these companies has been overcoming the costs of applying the technology in a reliable way (which makes sense when one considers just how many carts would need to be tagged in any major facility), not to mention their lack of durability and vulnerability to water, dirt, and metal.

However, as expertise in the field has grown, RFID technology has developed into something much more than it once was. Now, it is safe to say that RFID is no longer just for retail. The technology is less costly than ever, more reliable, and has overcome the environmental factors that have hindered implementation in the past.

Tracking Cart Data in Transit

The biggest difficulties of tracking carts come from the fact that, usually, there are thousands of them, which makes them difficult to manage. Once the carts are loaded with product and shipped out, it’s almost impossible to get an update on their location and reliable proof of delivery, or to perform an audit on lost carts. Once the truck leaves, you’re basically blind until it comes back. The fundamental goal of cart tracking, therefore, is to help you determine where the carts are, who had them last, what truck they were placed in, and ultimately, where they ended up.

RFID technology can give you this information by allowing you to collect data while the shipment is still in transit. Here’s how it works: RFID tags are affixed to the carts, which are then loaded into a shipping truck equipped with GPS-enabled RFID readers. Every few minutes, these readers will scan each cart in the truck simultaneously. When this happens, the data is wirelessly sent to a back-end software platform that automatically logs each cart’s GPS coordinates along with a time and date stamp. When a cart is dropped off and stops appearing in the scan logs, finding it is simply a matter of comparing its last known location and timestamp with its closest delivery report.

Overcoming Environmental Factors

Past iterations of RFID tags — the ones most people are familiar with — have been thin, and not particularly durable, sticker-like objects that you’d sooner find stuck to the inside of a DVD case than attached to a piece of heavy equipment. They were easily degraded by dirt and water, and the already short-range radio waves they emitted would be blocked and distorted by metal, making them a less-than-ideal option for implementing a cart-tracking solution in a greenhouse or nursery, where these hindrances are unavoidable.

Modern-day RFID tags are a different story. They are more durable, last longer, and are resistant to water and dirt, making them far more useful for a nursery or greenhouse environment. Just as important though, they emit stronger, further-reaching radio signals that won’t be rendered useless when attached to a metal cart. Some early attempts at RFID cart tracking involved the use of special mounts or flags that suspended the tag off the cart just enough to eliminate metal interference, but they would leave the tag insecurely fastened and would need to be delicately worked around. Today, ruggedized RFID tags are bolted directly on to a metal cart without any loss in performance, allowing them to be read more easily and consistently than ever.

Lowering the Cost of Ownership

As certain technologies advance, they generally become cheaper to own, and RFID is no different. The cost of the tags themselves has lowered, of course, but that is just the beginning. A well-implemented RFID system will not only cut costs, but eventually give you a return on your investment.

Let’s say a facility loses track of 100 carts per year. If the carts cost $400 each, then the result is a $40,000 annual loss. An RFID solution that finds and retrieves those lost carts nullifies that loss. Alsoremember: Because carts are usually not retrieved immediately after a shipment, it is not uncommon for a facility to keep an inflated inventory of carts to account for predicted losses. If these losses are eliminated, then the need to maintain this inflated inventory is eliminated, too, saving money overall.

Finally, because of the massive increase in the average lifespan of an RFID tag, they barely ever need to be replaced. Instead, the tags now last through the entire life of the cart. This eliminates not only the monetary investment of purchasing new tags, but also the time investment required to re-tag thousands of carts.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “How RFID Technology Can Help With Plant Cart Tracking

More From Production...
Oasis-Root-Cubes-Retail-Pack

May 20, 2018

Smithers-Oasis Now Offering Rootcubes Foam Media in Retail Pack

Designed with smaller or hobby growers in mind, the Rootcubes packs are also ideal for larger growers to use for trials.

Read More
Botrytis-Symptoms-feature

May 12, 2018

Fungicide Resistance in Botrytis is an International Challenge

Clemson University’s research team is exploring Botrytis in cut roses to find out how to help you maintain postharvest crop quality by avoiding fungicide resistance.

Read More
algae-on-greenhouse-benches-feature

May 9, 2018

How Greenhouse Sanitation Helps You Start Clean and Stay Clean

If you keep your greenhouse clean from the start, you’ll save yourself money in the end.

Read More
Latest Stories
Oasis-Root-Cubes-Retail-Pack

May 20, 2018

Smithers-Oasis Now Offering Rootcubes Foam Media in Ret…

Designed with smaller or hobby growers in mind, the Rootcubes packs are also ideal for larger growers to use for trials.

Read More
Botrytis-Symptoms-feature

May 12, 2018

Fungicide Resistance in Botrytis is an International Ch…

Clemson University’s research team is exploring Botrytis in cut roses to find out how to help you maintain postharvest crop quality by avoiding fungicide resistance.

Read More
algae-on-greenhouse-benches-feature

May 9, 2018

How Greenhouse Sanitation Helps You Start Clean and Sta…

If you keep your greenhouse clean from the start, you’ll save yourself money in the end.

Read More
Xanthomonas-Lesions-in-Begonia

May 5, 2018

Michigan State Experts Offer Tips on Managing Xanthomon…

After receiving numerous samples from across the state of begonias testing positive for Xanthomonas, experts at the university have developed a series of articles aimed at helping growers identify and control this disease.

Read More
Troy Bettner

May 2, 2018

OHP Fills Big Shoes With Latest Hire

OHP Inc., provider of pest control products and services for the greenhouse and nursery production industry, has found a replacement for longtime company leader Terry Higgins, who retired March 31. Troy Bettner has officially joined OHP as head of sales and marketing. He was most recently working for Helm Agro, another agricultural-based provider of pest control chemistries. In addition to his time as marketing business development leader at Helm, Bettner has logged many years in the horticulture industry. “We’re thrilled to bring Troy on board to lead our sales and marketing efforts,” stated Dan Stahl, OHP VP and GM. “With his industry experience, Troy has all the qualities to help lead OHP into the future.” Bettner holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Purdue University. He, his wife, and three children live in Carmel, […]

Read More
Geraniums-in-greenhouse-feature

April 30, 2018

How Plant Growth Regulator Suppliers Are Continuing to …

Obtaining optimal results with plant growth regulators is a combination of art and science. Here’s how a few manufacturers are helping to bring the two together.

Read More
Bees on flowers

April 27, 2018

Searching for Pollinator Attractive Plants? A New Resou…

The IR-4 Project at Rutgers University recently launched a Plant Search website that allows visitors to search for pollinator-attractive plants by zip code, bloom period, sun/light requirements, and/or pollinator attractiveness.

Read More
Plant-Propagation-Material

April 25, 2018

What the APHIS Plant Import Rules Restructuring Means f…

The federal regulation covers imports of live plants and pretty much any type of plant propagative material.

Read More
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

April 14, 2018

Kemin Forms Distribution Partnership With Plant Product…

Under the agreement, Plant Products will be a Kemin Crop Technologies’ distributor in the northeastern U.S.

Read More
Basewell-cuttings-from-Dummen

April 13, 2018

Dümmen Orange Debuts New Rooting Technology

Basewell bare-root cuttings feature advanced root development and no growing media, which allows products to ship to growers from off-shore production locations, ready to transplant directly into the finish container.

Read More
Irrigation-feature

April 10, 2018

New Tool Helps Greenhouse Growers Analyze Irrigation Wa…

The University of Connecticut and University of Florida have partnered to launch the WaterQual tool as part of the CleanWateR3 research program.

Read More
Simple-Data-Logger-Feature

April 6, 2018

Using Data Loggers in the Greenhouse

The fifth article of this five-part series about the tools you need to measure environmental and cultural parameters in your greenhouse, you will learn why you should be using data loggers and how to best put them to use.

Read More
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

April 3, 2018

8 Ways to Boost Your Skills in Greenhouse Cost Manageme…

The University of Florida’s upcoming four-week online training courses are designed to help your grower staff make better crop management decisions.

Read More
SePro-Hachi-Hachi

April 2, 2018

Insect Management Tool From SePRO Registered in Califor…

Hachi-Hachi SC is active on all life stages of insects such as thrips, aphids, and mealybugs.

Read More
Chili-the-NatureFresh-Farms-Dog-feature

April 1, 2018

Meet Chili, NatureFresh Farms’ Pest-Detecting Can…

NatureFresh Farm’s newest employee may have four paws, but that doesn’t stop her from sniffing out a major pest problem.

Read More

March 28, 2018

USDA Allocates $70 Million for Invasive Pest and Diseas…

The funding will be used to examine ways to prevent the introduction or spread of invasive plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment.

Read More
Calcium-Deficiency-in-Lettuce-feature

March 24, 2018

Two Simple Hydroponic Production Solutions That Generat…

Factoring in these two production considerations can help you prevent a host of problems and turn out higher quality hydroponic crops.

Read More
Bees on flowers

March 20, 2018

Walmart Files Patent for Pollination Drone

The drone would be capable of pollinating flowers and crops the same way a bee would, using cameras and sensors to identify pollen in flowers.

Read More