Australian Defense begins largest RFID trial

The Australian Department of Defense (DoD) will radically upgrade its worldwide logistics operations by undertaking a A$20 million (US$15,537,074) pilot project that will see RFID (radio frequency identification) technology rolled out in more than two dozen locations around the globe.

Under the scope of the project, RFID tags - which use wireless signals to write and read small amounts of data onto tiny microchips that can be stuck onto all kinds of items - will be attached to pallets the Defense Material Organization (DMO)'s logistics division uses.

As the logistics provider for the whole of the Australian Defense Force, DMO accounts for 32 percent of Australia's entire Defense budget.

Tasked with supplying everything from paper clips to missiles, the organization manages the movement of around A$4 billion worth of inventory - and A$2.5 billion worth of explosive munitions - across more than 50 physical locations in Australia and overseas.

Because of often tenuous supply chain links and delivery delays, multiple orders and poor visibility of the contents of shipping containers have made it a nightmare for troops to locate specific items in incoming shipments.

Wastage has long been a major problem among military forces: the US Army, for example, sent more than 42,000 containers of supplies to Gulf War troops - but half of those containers were unlabelled and many contained items that weren't even required by troops.