Where's the beer? RFID tags can tell

Sept. 15, 2005
Radio-frequency identification tags help TrenStar Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo., keep track of millions of beer kegs in the U.K. including those used by Carlsberg UK and Coors Brewers Ltd.

Kegs can be bulk scanned as they load onto retail vehicles at Coors Brewers Ltd, Burton, U.K. The Sokymat RFID tag attaches to every beer keg and incorporates robust packaging that protects delicate electronics when kegs are washed and filled.

Radio-frequency identification tags help TrenStar Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo. (trenstar.com), keep track of millions of beer kegs in the U.K. including those used by Carlsberg UK and Coors Brewers Ltd. The company's sophisticated logistics network uses RFID-enabled TrenStarCM container management systems. The RFID tags from Switzerland-based Sokymat SA (sokymat.com) attach to kegs from TrenStar.

Breweries no longer need buy their own kegs. Instead they can use any keg in the TrenStar arsenal. This eliminates the need for a brewer to transport empty kegs. Kegs from participating breweries are interchangeable and can be reused by the closest brewer. This significantly cuts transportation costs for all participants. The Sokymat RFID tag was developed especially for the kegs. It's made from a ferrite-core-based transponder using Philips

Hitag S 2k-bit Series ICs. The new read/write tag features an advanced anticollision algorithm and operates effectively even in metallic environments. Sokymat and TrenStar customized the device packaging to better protect electronic components from rough handling that kegs see, in particular during washing and filling operations.

Tags carry information about the container and its contents (beer batch and date of origin) each time the keg is refilled. Brewers only pay a fee when kegs are filled. Additionally, the RFID tags can drive keg rejection on filling lines for kegs that require maintenance. RFID scanners in trucks and warehouses track with 99% accuracy, reports TrenStar. Traditional human/computer interfaces reach accuracy of only about 85%.

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