October 1, 2004, 12:00 AM

Wal-Mart beef jerky supplier gets a jump on RFID integration

Although Jack Link’s Beef Jerky doesn’t have to meet Wal-Mart’s RFID mandate until 2006, it’s moving ahead with a multi-part project to reap the benefits of internal integration of RFID supply chain data.


Although Jack Link’s Beef Jerky doesn’t have to meet Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s mandate of placing RFID tags on cases and pallets until 2006, it’s moving ahead with a multi-part project to reap the benefits of internal integration of RFID supply chain data as it prepares for meeting Wal-Mart’s demands. "We know RFID is coming sooner or later, and we wanted to ensure we are ready to continue to better serve our customers," says Karl Paepke, vice president of operations.

RFID, or radio frequency identification, uses a system of RFID tags and readers to track the movement of goods throughout the supply chain, making tracking information available to retailers and suppliers over the Internet. As in the case of Jack Link’s, an RFID system can also integrate that data with a company’s back-end ERP software to provide views of materials status in the manufacturing process.

The beef jerky supplier is rolling out its RFID project in four stages:
• tagging cases and pallets destined for Wal-Mart’s north Texas distribution center;
• attaching RFID tags to totes and racks in a closed-loop warehouse system to replace a manual auditing process;
• extending the tagging process to raw-material supplies, to automatically record information to keep track of all raw materials going into a specific batch of products;
• using RFID tags and readers to track the transfers of products moving from its manufacturing sites to its distribution center.

Jack Link’s is using several RFID system suppliers. SAMSys Technologies Inc. is providing RFID tags and readers, while SATO America Inc. is implementing its RFID network. ABC Computers Inc. is working with Microsoft Corp. to integrate RFID data with the beef jerky supplier’s Microsoft Navision ERP system. Avery Dennison Corp. is providing RFID compliance testing.

By integrating its RFID data with its Microsoft Navision ERP system, Jack Link’s will provide high levels of inventory record accuracy throughout its operations, Paepke says. “By applying RFID across our entire supply chain, we hope to not only increase visibility and accuracy to a level we never thought possible, but also to largely automate all associated business processes. With RFID readers automatically feeding data into Microsoft Navision, we believe Jack Link`s Beef Jerky will not only realize greater operational visibility and control, it will also be able to pinpoint efficiencies in the manufacturing process through better control of yield at each production step."

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