Research & Development


Begun in June 2007, Italy's first RFID supply chain project, and the first in the world to bring together food producers, retailers and technology partners, has successfully revealed the feasibility and advantages of tracking individual items in the supply chain. Oracle is proud to have provided the technological infrastructure behind this important project.

In 2003, the University of Parma's RFID Lab was set up to research and educate on the commercial potential of RFID technology for the Italian market. Having received the country's first non-military license for RFID use in 2006, the RFID Lab's one-year RFID Logistics Pilot Project, the first of its kind in Italy, was begun in June 2007 aiming to examine the feasibility and benefits of tracking individual items through the supply chain from dispatch to the store shelf.

With a technological infrastructure composed of Oracle SOA Suite, Oracle Fusion Middleware, and Oracle Business Intelligence, and supported by a team of Oracle software engineers, the project tracked the movement of perishable goods between the food producer, Parmacotto, and the retailer, Auchan. The funding and results of the project, however, were shared between all thirteen members of the RFID Lab's FMCG Advisory Board - the first RFID project worldwide to bring together a group of food producers, retailers and technology partners, the Board included corporations such as Danone, Nestle and Parmalat, as well as Oracle.

At the end of a successful year, the project's results showed an accuracy rate of 99% in tracking individual goods using RFID tags, and an accuracy rate of approximately 98% at case level. For Parmacotto, this meant being able to have visibility of individual items from factory floor to store shelf, which was not previously possible; while overall, the project demonstrated a number of considerable time, cost and process improvements achievable through automated tracking of produce, for both food producers and retailers.

"The potential of RFID to transform the efficiency of supply chains has been clear since the technology’s emergence," said Professor Rizzi, founder and head of RFID LAB, University of Parma. "But we’re extremely pleased to have validated this with our RFID Logistics Pilot project. Oracle has been an extremely supportive partner in the project and its technology has underpinned the project’s success."

To integrate and exchange information received from the RFID readers and processed by the RFID system the project employed Oracle SOA Suite, with data being stored by Oracle Database, extended with Oracle Application Express; while Oracle BPEL Process Manager was used to orchestrate the processes involved and the information flow. The integration was carried out by Id-Solutions, an RFID solutions integrator, Oracle CertifiedPartner, member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork, and a spin off company of the University of Parma.

"The first successful RFID supply chain project is a significant advance for the Italian manufacturing, distribution and retail industries and we’re delighted to have been involved in achieving this milestone," said Oscar Gridavilla, Business Development Director, Oracle Italy. "Oracle has always enjoyed working with innovative organizations and strived to develop technology that will transform the way businesses operate. The results from the project are set to have a long lasting, positive impact on Italian industry."

The University of Parma's RFID Lab will now look to build on the pilot project's success and extend the research beyond tracking items between one producer and retailer to encompass a whole supply network of different producers and stores.