Wireless Applications

IBM Keeps the European Horticultural Industry Blooming

July 1, 2009

New sensor-based system to help Container Centralen manage 3.5 million flower & pot plant trolleys daily.

KONGENS LYNGBY, Denmark, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Container Centralen announced that by February 1, 2010, Danish Container Centralen, Europe's largest provider of re-usable transport equipment and services, will use IBM sensor technology to allow participants in the horticultural supply chain to track the progress of shipments as they move from growers to wholesalers and retailers across 40 countries in Europe. The project is the largest of its kind in the horticulture business.

Approximately 80,000 growers, wholesalers, and retailers use Container Centralen's flower and pot plant trolleys to deliver fresh flowers and plants speedily and in the best possible condition. The company's flower and pot plant trolleys—called CC Containers—are designed to meet the specific needs of the horticultural industry. The containers are suitable for mechanical handling, and since they are also used as retail display units, the flowers and plants can be transported right from the grower to the consumer in the store with no need for product handling in between, meaning less damage to goods and reduced overall distribution costs.

In order to meet customer requirements, Container Centralen needs to be able to quickly and easily make the trolleys available to their customers where and when they are needed. And with 3.5 million flower and pot plant trolleys in circulation in the international network known as the "CC Pool System," careful tracking of the trolleys is essential.

Together with IBM, Container Centralen is outfitting each of its flower and pot plant trolleys with intelligent Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, which will allow it to offer an unprecedented level of transparency and security for all the players in the horticultural supply chain. It is expected to help the users reap significant savings through the entire supply chain from growers to wholesalers and retailers due to improved order management.

"After conducting extensive research of RFID technology throughout the past years, we have come to the conclusion that an RFID project is of vital importance for both our—and our customers'—logistics as suppliers to the wholesale and retail trade. We were happy to discover that our partners in this project had the same views on the future and RFID. Our overall common aims are to obtain higher efficiency and cost reductions in operations; improve control of the CC Containers circulating in the CC Pool System; and satisfying the future demands of the retailers," says Tonny Vangsgaard Gravesen, CEO, Container Centralen.

In addition to speeding supply chain operations, Container Centralen's RFID initiative will prevent the creation of counterfeit horticultural flower and pot plant trolleys. By putting a stop to the introduction of these inferior containers, Container Centralen can ensure high quality service through the entire supply chain.

Container Centralen's decision to deploy RFID technology across its operations followed a successful pilot in which in the solution was defined. Now, the company plans to equip all its horticultural flower and pot plant trolleys with RFID tags by 2010.

"Through the use of sensor technology, Container Centralen is sowing the seeds for a smarter, more effective horticultural shipping system," said Boy Steiner, business development executive, IBM.

All of the data from the RFID tags Container Centralen is using will be captured and stored by IBM's WebSphere Sensor Events software.

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