Western Australia’s wool clip has been selected to trial the commercial viability of using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to track wool bales.
About 40 per cent of WA’s clip will have ultra-high frequency bale tags – that can be read from more than two metres and can withstand dumping – as part of a six-month trial next year which aims to verify Australian Wool Exchange’s e-Bale technology.
The Operational Proof of Concept (OPC) will begin early 2018 and will track 150,000 bales, from farm up to point of shipping, prior to commercialisation of the technology.
“We think RFID technology and pricing and functionality is starting to reach the point where it looks like a viable solution,” AWEX wool services manager David Cother said.
“We’ve chosen WA because it does allow an opportunity to move towards commercialisation.”
The tags are estimated to cost less than US$1 per bale, and can be scanned using phone application technology.
Following the outcome of next year’s trial, Mr Cother said the plan would be to escalate to a state-wide trial, including wool dump to end users.
“We would see the OPC as the seeding point for future commercialisation providing all the boxes are ticked,” he said.
Last year, AWEX showcased the new technology during the Nanjing Woolmarket Conference, where Mr Cother said customers showed significant interest in e-Bale’s logistic, traceability and provenance opportunities.
AWEX chief executive Mark Grave said the e-Bale OPC represented a real time opportunity to evaluate the potential use and impact of adopting machine readable technology in a simulated on-farm to warehouse supply chain.
“The use of a unique RFID tag, that can survive the pipeline, has garnered interest and active participation from warehouses, dumps, exporters and processors,” Mr Grave said.
“… The traceability of agricultural products from farm through the supply chain is relevant to Australia’s biosecurity interests.”