At a time when Brazilians are radically divided by ideological currents and even by football teams, good news is emerging in the cotton sector: two Brazilian companies are raising the quality level of national cotton in Brazil and abroad. ID-Cotton, winner of the IoP Journal Award 2020, with its solution for tracking cotton from the crop through radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and AG Surveyors, which carries out inspection and certification of cotton, based in Santos (SP), signed a 10-year partnership that will have an international impact on the cotton market.
In an interview to IoP Journal TV, Carlos Freitas and Giovanna Freitas, from AG Surveyors, together with Flavio Tarasoff, from ID-Cotton, gave the dimension of the work they started a few weeks ago. ID-Cotton records the bales still in the field, through management and traceability to the cotton plant, linking the SAI code (the identification system of the cotton producers’ association) and generating the shipment of these bales in lint. AG Surveyors then receives the batch shipped via the system and, when the truck arrives at the port, it reads bale by bale with RFID.
Thus, it can be guaranteed that only the bales that are part of that instruction have shipped into the container, generating the Packing List automatically for the customs broker and sending the file to the port of destination to check the spawning of cargo.
According to Carlos Freitas, the implementation met expectations. “We gained speed in the process, accuracy and confidence”. With the system, all products are tracked from the plantation to the final consumer, through GS1’s Electronic Product Code (EPC) standard. “The deployment follows the GS1 standard, because it guarantees easy data interoperability and preserve the RFID investment”, explains Flavio Tarasoff.
According to the ID-Cotton executive, mobile devices with embedded readers are in use. “Since the operating environment is third-party terminals or third-party warehouses, and due to the operation’s own dynamics, where may be changes in the container’s stuffing location, we are unable to use fixed readers,” he explains. “Furthermore, a mobile device is a kind of a portable computer, giving the possibility of adding an app to process data and relevant information to the chain”. One of the activities, he says, involves the middleware developed by ID-Cotton, which deals with what is relevant for reading.
According to Giovanna Freitas, from AG Surveyors, deploying RFID was a positive experience to the company, because it eliminates errors from operations that were previously done manually. Tarasoff, from ID-Cotton, added that, like any novelty, RFID generated some initial resistance, but proved to be a wise decision after use.
“The processes were carried out manually, through forms or in some stages by spreadsheets and emails exchanged between the company and customers, with low integration regarding information, causing delays for data consolidation and reporting”, attests Tarasoff.
Carlos Freitas clarifies that the partnership with ID-Cotton is providing mobile devices and software for collection and integration with inspection control software. “The main objective is to use the ID-Cotton solution, linking the production chain with logistics”, he mentioned. The tags are being added to SAI during cotton processing before shipping to the port. “Thus, the same tag applied to the cotton plant is used for blocking, shipping, port logistics and segregation in the textile industry, where the cotton lint must be transformed into yarn”, explains Tarasoff.
The main challenges of the project, according to the ID-Cotton executive, were the need for collection mobility, which was solved using mobile devices; the definition of reading parameters and the exposure time of the tags, which have Impinj chips; and the change in the operating culture, demonstrating to terminals and operators the gains in precision and speed compared to visual and manual recording.
“The next step of the initiative is to carry out the integration to monitor and point out in the ports of destination, that is, the spawning of the container”, foresees Tarasoff. In addition, RFID is already integrated into the management system (ERP), removing typing steps and generating integration between the operations at the terminals and the information sent by customers, with the database in cloud computing.
Watch the full interview [in Portuguese] at the IoP Journal Channel on Youtube.