Metro Group Launches New RFID Initiative Today

The $81 billion European retail chain Metro Group is moving ahead with its Asian RFID supplier program, promoting a kick-off program today for 30 partners at the Hong Kong Science & Technology Park.

The "Tag It Easy" pilot is officially part of an initiative that Metro is calling Advanced Logistics Asia (ALA), which helps consumer goods manufacturers to apply RFID labels on shipments from Hong Kong to Germany.

"Most of the Metro Group's suppliers in this region have limited technology capabilities at their production sites and so require assistance in printing RFID labels to affix to their export packages," Metro said in a statement today, adding that some new partnerships?including one with Checkpoint Systems?"has established a platform to allow these suppliers to place label order requests and receive pre-printed labels."

The retailer?with about 270,000 employees running roughly 2,400 stores in 30 countries under brands including Metro/Makro Cash & Carry, Galeria Kaufhof, Real hypermarkets, Extra supermarkets, Media Markt and Saturn--has standardized on UHF EPC Gen 2 tags for compliance to all regional requirements: 917 - 922 MHz for China; 920 - 925 MHz for Hong Kong; and 865.6 - 867.6 MHz for Europe.

The RFID tags on the labels provided by Checkpoint will store the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC), which will be read at several points along the supply chain from Hong Kong to Unna, Germany, Metro officials said. The Metro Group will receive an electronic delivery note in advance of the shipment, detailing the container content.

"The supplier also benefits, by gaining detailed proof of package delivery," the Metro statement said. "The pilot will run for three months and the Metro Group expects to extend the project to include several other Asian suppliers at a future date if the concept proves to be feasible."