WhereNet adds BI to RFID asset management

WhereNet, a company that helps companies wirelessly track the location of everything from shopping carts to shipping containers, will announce this week that it is adding a business intelligence, rules-based engine to its location-based software

WhereNet, a Santa Clara, California, company that helps companies wirelessly track the location of everything from shopping carts to shipping containers, will announce this week that it is adding a business intelligence, rules-based engine to its location-based software.

The first iteration of the application, WhereSoft Yard Version 4.0, is targeted at deconsolidators — companies that take imported cargo typically brought in by container ships, break it down, and send out the contents across the country to domestic warehouses and regional distribution centres.

WhereSoft Yard is transitioning location-based data from tracking to resource management by using a rules engine along with the real-time location system, according to Steve Raymond, director of product marketing for application software at WhereNet.

The yard management application allows for more automated resource management by using business rules to determine where drivers park the containers brought in from the docks, to match door assignment rules to the container, and to insure that a trailer can leave the yard using checkout rules.

Rick Pople, general manager for NYK Logistics, a deconsolidator based outside the port of Los Angeles in Long Beach, California, said NYK's yard was getting too complex to handle containers the old way with golf carts and walkie-talkies.

"We have 1200 parking spaces and 700 to 1000 transactions every day," Pople said.

The Yard management application goes beyond knowing what containers have come into the yard to determining who the carrier is, what terminal the container came from, and how to keep like equipment from the same shipper next to each other.

"When a drayman brings in the next load, we want him to drop a load and pick up an empty (container). If they are next to each other, he is in and out quickly,"

The software will allow NYK to increase dock door usage, reduce yard congestion, and increase the number of daily turns in the yard.

While WhereNet has long been working with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology for improved resource management, Version 4.0 is the first of is kind, according to one analyst.

"It is new. It could be a big deal. Companies have location data in their database, the items associated with a container — now WhereNet is providing an event management application on top of that," said Bret Kinsella, global lead for Sapient Supply Chain group in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

RFID tagging technology is finding a wide array of uses. In April 2002, WhereNet was instrumental in a pilot program for a supermarket chain that put RFID tags on all of its shopping carts and handbaskets in a test store. The purpose was to track customer movement in order to understand traffic patterns and design stores more efficiently.

The WhereNet solution is part of a bigger supply chain story whose goal it is to have all supply chain participants make decisions off the same set of data.

"We want to give suppliers, internally and externally, the same reports. If there is an issue the customer has the same information as our internal operations have. We want everyone to see one truth," Pople said.

WhereSoft Yard 4.0 is shipping now.

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