A secret recipe of spices sets sausage-maker Odom's Tennessee Pride apart from its competitors. Its logistics operations set it apart from many other companies that need to provide RFID shipping labels to comply with customer requirements.
"We couldn't take the slap-and-ship approach to meeting our RFID mandate requirement," said Mike Hader, director of information technologies at Odom's Tennessee Pride. "Our processes required that we apply RFID tags in a real-time, in-line process in our plant."
Tennessee Pride uses a dedicated cold-storage third-party-logistics provider to distribute its products to retail customers. The 3PL did not have any RFID capabilities, which required Tennessee Pride to develop its own system to tag cases and cartons before they were transferred to the 3PL.
"We investigated, and found it would cost us more in the long-term to outsource our RFID labeling.We knew it was best to bring RFID capability into our plant," said Hader. "We were interested in using RFID not only to meet the mandate, but also to improve our own processes."
That brought a new set of challenges, because plant operations were already highly automated and efficient, so the RFID system had to fit in without slowing things down. Tennessee Pride runs production for two shifts, then tears down and cleans its lines during the third. The lines are in constant use, so there is no time available to shut down to test and troubleshoot RFID configurations.
"We looked for a partner who could provide a reliable, scalable system and bring in vendors with world-class capabilities to fit into a large-scale IT infrastructure and cause minimal change to the processes we already had in place," said Hader.