Defence moves ahead RFID cargo system

The promise of RFID may one day be realized with supporting software

RFID technology may be renowned for a lack of successful real-world implementations, but the Department of Defence will ramp up maintenance and support for its own operations.

Defence uses an RFID-enabled cargo visibility system (CVS) to increase the Australian Defence Organization's (ADO) freight visibility on designated supply chains in support of nominated operations and exercises designated by the defence chief.

The Directorate of Logistics Systems Sustainment (DLSS) is responsible for customer support, through life support and associated services for 36 logistics information systems. Of these applications, RFID, CVS, and Defence Transaction Processor (DTP) are designated as "visibility applications".

The formal name for the RFID capability is "RFID enabled Cargo Visibility System" and is comprised of four components - the deployed RFID field service extension (FSE) kits, the RFID fixed infrastructure, the CVS itself, and servers and applications which support RFID-enabled CVS on Defence's restricted network.

Defence's RFID software journey began with the ADF In-Transit Visibility (ADFITV) project to deliver to the ADO an integrated supply chain system which incorporated RFID-enabled freight tracking technologies with a (DTP) warehousing system.

Back in 2004, DTP version 5 of the infrastructure was deployed and this was followed in 2007 with RFID to 32 joint logistics units (JLUs) and freight distribution centres (FDCs) throughout the national support base.

The initial fixed site deployment was conducted by the DTP, which represented 70 percent of the installed infrastructure, by overlaying the RFID requirement (30 percent) aspect of the project and resulting in one infrastructure system at each site off which RFID and DTP now operate.

According to Defence, ADFITV in itself was to provide the software solution (ADFITV software application) that interfaced the two systems and was to replace the existing CVS.

However, in late 2006 the ADFITV software solution was deemed "not fit for purpose" and the project was cancelled. As a result, the DTP and RFID capabilities were divided into two separate program offices, and directed to function as capabilities independent of each other.

"Despite the separation into two program offices, RFID and DTP continue to utilize the joint infrastructure installed during ADFITV," according to a Defence document.

As independent systems, the Defence Network Support Agency directed that RFID connect to the restricted network via a PIX firewall, while the DTP continue to utilize the VPN connector installed during the DTP project.

Defence is now seeking a supplier for the provision of RFID software maintenance and support services.

Timing for the delivery for such support services is yet to be released.

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