RFID represents, besides bar codes, another way to identify objects. The advantage with RFID, among other things, is that identification can be done without physical or visual contact and with distances of up to several meters. A possible use of RFID could be to speed up the logistic flow in the check in- and boarding processes at ferry ports. The potential earnings this could result in, is for example faster check in, faster leaving/fetching of the transport unit, better track & trace of the transport unit, increased safety and more efficient work on the quay. A number of issues were set up within three main areas: general survey of RFID technology, potential earnings and investment analysis. Besides these main areas, some other interesting issues about alternative identification methods, applications in other contexts and safety was, added to the report. The focus of this case study has nevertheless been to try to point out the potential earnings and benefits with use of RFID technology.
As basis on order to respond to the issues, a present situation description over the studied system, from terminal – ferry transport – terminal, has been done. In this supply chain, Stena Line and Schenker have been the involved operators. On the basis of this description a case or scenario was set up where the transport units are equipped with RFID transponders. With this scenario as background, combined with discussions with RFID vendors, a cost/revenue analysis was done. Also other issues have been tried to be responded on the basis of this investment analysis combined with the scenario, discussions with RFID-vendors and a theoretical frame of reference.
The result of the general survey of RFID technology shows, among other thing, that active UHF or SHF transponders is most common within this type of application and that the reading range complies with what is necessary. The transponder identification code does not necessary need to be of the read/write type and can consist of one of the supplier provided identification number. There is however, most often a possibility to use optional identification data, e.g. GS1: s electronic product code, EPC, which could be suitable. The result of the investment analysis shows that the major cost for Stena Line involves the system development part, while costs for hardware are almost insignificant. With continuous revenues through reduced personnel costs, the calculated payoff-time is approximately five years. The major cost for Schenker is hardware as transponders must be installed on trailer and truck. With a transponder price tag of average €20-50 and additional costs for installation, the total cost should become at least a couple of millions SEK. This includes equipping of all transport units that pass through the port of Majnabbe. With this investment, Schenker can benefit by the possibility to a later check in or the possibility to check in 24 hours per day, which can result in more loadings/unloadings and better optimization of the fleet. By identifying both truck and trailer at the quay side area, this will lead to a higher focus on port security issues. This can be seen as an increased service for both Stena Line and Schenker customers, which may result in competitive advantages.With transponder equipped trailers, this also gives the opportunity to increased track & trace applications, apart from the status reporting that today already exists in the ferry terminal. However, to benefit by this to the maximum, it also require RFID-tagging on product- or pallet level, which would lead to complete product transparency for all operators in the supply chain.
One obstacle to introduce RFID-based check in is the laws and rules within port security, which demands full admittance control. Most likely, there can be found solutions which make automatic check in possible and still lives up to these demands.