Patensie Citrus Ltd. approached us to help them keep better track of their expensive reusable fruit containers. We developed a UHF RFID solution with Times7 antennas and Impinj readers that enabled them to easily track and trace these containers, without the need for offloading trucks at the entrance to their packing house.
Patensie Citrus Ltd. is a leading citrus exporter with two fully computerised packing houses that serve as a hub for citrus farmers of the Patensie region in the Eastern Cape.
Patensie Citrus sends out empty reusable containers to farms in the area, and the producers send the fruit-filled containers back to the packing house. The company needed a better way to keep track of these expensive containers, including the farms they were traveling to and their contents as they arrived at the packing house.
A UHF RFID solution proved to be ideal. It allows for multiple containers to be recorded as they pass through a checkpoint equipped with an RFID reader: no manual unloading or counting needed. Each of the 25 000 containers in the pool was tagged with dual tags that had the same unique identifying number. Dual tags, each placed on opposite sides of the container, were used to make that sure that a tag would always be readable for a container no matter what the contents or direction it was loaded on a truck.
Using a vehicle portal each tag can be read and recorded in real time as the vehicle with the containers passes underneath. We repeatedly tested the system with empty as well as filled containers, and it functioned 100% each time.
In addition, we installed readers in the plant to keep track of the type and mass of the fruit in the container at critical points. This required a fixed reader with antenna at each weighing point.
Washing bay identification
The last requirement was to integrate the system with the container washing bay that allowed a PLC system to control container movement and direction, depending on the tag number. Throughout this solution we used Impinj readers with Times-7 antennas.
RFID Events Software
RFID Events software (developed by Osiris Technical Systems) was installed onsite. RFID Events interrogates each reader throughout the plant. Each time a tag is read, the event and reader-antenna combination is recorded on a SQL database. This information is used by the warehouse management software to keep track of and maintain critical information on the containers and its contents.
This system significantly improves the accuracy of the tracking of Patensie Citrus Ltd.’s reusable containers, without the need for additional manpower or effort. All equipment was carefully selected to withstand the pressures of an outdoor, agricultural environment, resulting in a reliable, time-saving solution.