Company deploys RFID system to meet retailer's tag requirements.

Multinational consumer goods manufacturer The Henkel Group says its U.S. Consumer Adhesives Division has deployed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) at operations in Avon, OH, and Oklahoma City, OK. Henkel Adhesives manufactures adhesive tapes and glues, including those sold under the well-known Duck®brand and Loctite®brands.

As one of Wal-Mart's top 100 suppliers, Henkel fell under the retailer's mandate to put RFID tags carrying electronic product codes (EPCs) onto pallets and cases delivered to Wal-Mart beginning in 2004. However, according to Henkel, that deadline wasn't the impetus for its RFID deployment.

"Henkel began looking to the RFID technology in 2002 because we were embarking on purchasing a new warehouse management system," says Gene Obrock, vice president of Operations at Henkel Consumer Adhesives. "We wanted to make sure that the system would be capable of being RFID ready, and therefore RFID technology had to be considered in this purchase decision."

Henkel believes that RFID technology will change the overall landscape of its supply chain by providing better visibility within its operation facilities while also providing its retail customers with better information to improve product in-stocks.

"RFID will improve our ability to have the right product in the right place at the right time," Obrock says.

Henkel's Avon, OH, deployment went "live" for business with Wal-Mart in early November 2004. This followed months of experimentation with reading systems, data collection and analysis to fine-tune the process.

To deploy its RFID system, link it with its existing operations and comply with Wal-Mart's demands, the company turned to the "RFID in a Box" solution from Atlanta-based supply-chain execution software provider Manhattan Associates.

The "RFID in a Box" solution includes RFID readers with two antennas per reader, as well as a fixed number of RFID transponders from Manhattan Associates' partner in the offering, Alien Technology, to label and track goods. "RFID in a Box" customers also receive a limited license version of Manhattan's Trading Partner Management application, allowing them to generate RFID label tags and apply them to goods using printers from Zebra Technologies and Printronix. Henkel has yet to settle upon a particular tag or hardware for use in its process, instead opting to wait and see what products the budding RFID market gravitates toward in the future.

Henkel and Manhattan Associates worked together on several earlier projects, deploying Manhattan Associates' Trading Partner Management (TPM), Transportation Management Systems (TMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) suites to automate Henkel's three North American distribution centers and streamline its supply chain execution operations.

About the Henkel Group

Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, the Henkel Group operates in three strategic business areas: home care; personal care; and adhesives, sealants and surface treatment. Henkel brands and technologies are available in 126 countries around the world.