JP5185533B2 - Item level visualization technology for nested and adjacent containers - Google Patents

Item level visualization technology for nested and adjacent containers Download PDF

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JP5185533B2
JP5185533B2 JP2006544039A JP2006544039A JP5185533B2 JP 5185533 B2 JP5185533 B2 JP 5185533B2 JP 2006544039 A JP2006544039 A JP 2006544039A JP 2006544039 A JP2006544039 A JP 2006544039A JP 5185533 B2 JP5185533 B2 JP 5185533B2
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container
identification
identification device
information
device
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JP2007519583A (en
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ランブライト,スティーブン,ジェイ.
ラコルテ,ブレア,ビー.
ラジャパクサ,ラビンドラ,ユー.
シャノン,デビッド,エル.
ファレル,スティーブン,ジェイ.
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サビ テクノロジー、インク.
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Priority to PCT/US2004/041501 priority patent/WO2005057378A2/en
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/08Logistics, e.g. warehousing, loading, distribution or shipping; Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement or balancing against orders

Description

RELATED APPLICATIONS This application is based on: 35 U.S.C. 119 (e), US Patent Application No. 60 / 528,334 filed December 9, 2003 by Stephen Lambright et al. (Named “Portable Nest Visualization”). US Patent Application No. 10 / 841,368 filed May 6, 2004 (named “Container Hierarchy for Container Hierarchy”) by Stephen Lambright et al. Nest Visualization ") is claimed as a continuation-in-part application under 35 U.S.C. 120. This' 368 is based on 35 U.S.C. 119 (e) under Stephen Lambright. US Patent Application No. 60 / 468,930 filed May 7, 2003 by other (named “For Smart Container” And US Patent Application No. 60 / 468,929 filed May 7, 2003 by Stephen Lambright et al. Under 35 U.S.C. 119 (e). Claiming priority over the concept of “nesting visualization of units”); and US patent application <Attorney Docket No. # 21790-09613> filed December 9, 2004 by Stephen Lambright et al. Active and passive tag readers "). The entire contents of each are incorporated herein by reference.

  The present invention relates generally to tracking containers and their contents, and more particularly to providing item layer visualization and validating shipment information by interrogating multiple hybrid layers of containers.

  Increasing world trade highlights the modern world economy that relies on goods transported in the global supply chain. In general, a global supply chain is a network of international suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and other entities that handle products from components to consumer consumption. For example, semiconductor test equipment is exported from the United States to Taiwan, semiconductors are processed in Taiwan, and then sent to Malaysia for incorporation into a computer. The computer is then transported to a US warehouse and finally transported to a consumer retail store for consumption.

  However, with current tracking systems, it is difficult to track container contents. This is because commodities are nested in several containers during transportation, and large shipping containers are stacked. For example, as defined by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), for nesting, item layers are grouped into package layers, which are then stored in carton layers. Some carton layers are stored in unit load layers (pallet layers), and some unit load layers are stored in container layers. In addition, containers are stacked several layers deep. It should be noted that in this specification, “container” is used in a broad sense including ISO layers and other containers. The vehicle transports several container layers at once. Therefore, the operator can only assume that an item (item) is on the vehicle based on the static nest information collected during packaging and the stack information. Therefore, if a product is stolen during shipment or shipped to the wrong place and lost, it is impossible to find the lost product until each layer of the container is opened at the consignee.

  Although the container configuration as described above is used to illustrate herein, the present invention is applicable to any group and any number of subgroups.

  A related problem is that current tracking systems do not have real-time information to track container contents, especially at the item layer. Since the physical content is sent separately from the data about the content, the tracking system cannot provide dynamic verification information about the content. Port operators who need to know the contents of a container must log into the tracking system and retrieve static information. In addition, content data is often delayed, so the operator cannot even retrieve some information.

  In addition, many large consumer stores require the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags in their products to sufficiently improve supply chain efficiency for just-in-time commodity inventory. However, these tags are usually mixed-molded and are not suitable for intra-area tag communication. Thus, the conventional tag waits until it is affected by passively outputting information from the tag reader to the central system. Traditionally, it is this central system that determines any association between products.

  Furthermore, the hybrid tag conventionally requires a separate tag reader for each tag type. For example, a container that includes both active and passive tags requires a separate device for each type to obtain information from the tag. Also, in addition to requiring two separate devices to read these tags, separate readers do not provide any information about the interrelationships between different types of hybrid tags.

  Therefore, what is needed is a robust system that provides visualization of multiple nested, closely related containers. The solution must also provide item layer visualization and end-to-end merchandise tracking within the global supply chain.

  The present invention fulfills these needs by a system and method that provides multi-layer visualization of nested, close containers. The system can also provide a virtual warehouse enabled by item layer visualization that tracks individual items from end to end of the global supply chain. Thus, the central system can gather information quickly and easily for each associated container that has a hybrid automatic identification technique by interrogating any or all layers.

  In some embodiments, the nested container comprises a container having an identification device. The identification device acts as an agent by automatically collecting and processing information on behalf of the central system. The identification device is based on various automatic identification technologies such as active or passive RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, barcodes, EPC (Electronic Product Code) compliant tags, or any other device capable of communicating identification information. Provide visualization. For example, the identification device provides item layer visualization by automatically transmitting hierarchical information and proximity container information via satellite to the central system at or between checkpoints in the global supply chain. In one embodiment, the nested container automatically confirms AMR (Automatic Inventory Convention) information by downloading from the central system and comparing the visualized items.

  In some embodiments, the identification device comprises a lower layer container down to the item layer and a processor that establishes a relative hierarchy of the upper layer container. Exemplary layers include an item layer, a unit load layer, an intermodal layer, and the like. In order to establish a hierarchy, the processor sends an interrogation signal to an adjacent container to retrieve identification information and layer information. That information can be associated with both individual information of the response container, as well as hierarchical information and proximity information about neighboring containers of the response container. In addition, the processor transmits its identification information and layer information in response to the received interrogation signal. From the nested container, the processor outputs the relative hierarchy to, for example, an integrated reader device. In some embodiments, the identification device further comprises a transceiver that transmits and receives identification information and / or layer information. The transceiver includes, for example, an RFID transceiver that operates at ultra high frequency (UHF).

  The features and advantages described in this summary and the following detailed description are not all-inclusive and, in particular, those skilled in the art will have many additional features and advantages in view of the drawings, specification, and claims. Will be clear. Furthermore, it should be noted that the terms used in the description are selected in principle for the sake of readability and explanation and not to limit or constrain the subject matter of the invention. And should rely on the claims to determine the subject matter of such invention.

  The accompanying drawings illustrate embodiments of the invention for purposes of illustration only. Those skilled in the art can readily appreciate from the following description that alternative embodiments of the structures and methods described herein can be employed without departing from the principles of the invention described herein.

  Disclosed are systems and methods for nested visualization. A system according to some embodiments of the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 and 7, and a method according to some embodiments of the present invention operating in that system is illustrated in FIGS. This will be described with reference to FIGS.

  The accompanying description is intended to provide a thorough explanation including numerous specific details. Of course, the field of cargo tracking is a field where many different variations of the features of the invention illustrated and described are possible. Thus, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without the specific details described below, and that many other variations and embodiments of the invention may be practiced with the teachings and spirit thereof. You can see that it can be done while satisfying. Accordingly, the present invention should not be understood as limited to the particular implementation described below, but only by the following claims.

  The processes, features, or functions of the invention can be implemented by program instructions that are executed on a suitable computer device. Examples of the computer device include an electronic tag, a company server, an application server, a workstation, a personal computer, a network computer, a network home appliance, a personal information terminal, a game console, a television receiver, a set-top box, a premises automatic device, a point of object. Includes sale terminals, automobiles, and personal communication devices. Program instructions can be distributed on computer-readable media, storage volumes, or the Internet. Program instructions can be in any suitable form, such as source code, object code, or script code.

  FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary global supply chain 100 that includes nested and / or adjacent containers 185 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. It should be noted that FIG. 1 is merely one example of a global supply chain 100 having various geographic configurations, modes of transportation, etc. within the spirit and scope of the present invention. In this embodiment, the global supply chain 100 includes a shipper 105a, a shipping port 105b, a transshipment port 105c, a destination port 105d, and a consignee 105e.

The global supply chain 100 is used by a network of international suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and other entities that handle commodities ranging from components to consumer consumption. Accordingly, nested and / or adjacent containers 185 and other cargo pass through network points, checkpoints, ports, and the like. The shipper 105a and the consignee 105e may be direct or indirect partner entities or units within a single entity that exchange containers 185 through trade routes. For example, a manufacturer sends computer components by truck freight to an assembly plant and then ships the assembled computer to a warehouse. Shipping port 105b, and the destination port 105 d is, ship product dock, airport, customs brokers, NVOCC (Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier: non-vessel operating skilled in the art), or any other for shipping and / or consignment goods on the trade route It may be a business entity. An internal supply chain is a single network or a similar network operated by a closely related entity, and the principles of the present invention can be applied to such an internal supply network.

  At a higher level, the shipper 105a can transport the container 185 to the consignee 105e via one of many trade routes. As a first mode of transport, the truck transports the container 185 from the shipper 105a to the shipping port 105b. As the second and third modes of transportation, the first ship and the second ship deliver and transport the container 185 from the shipping port 105b to the destination port 105d at the transshipment port 105c. As a fourth mode of transportation, the freight train transports the container to the consignee 105e. In the case of international transportation, the government agencies of the partner countries 101 and 102, such as the customs and national security agencies, monitor the components of the primary network, while the private sector monitors the components of the extended network. . However, it should be noted that in one embodiment, the transport occurs within a single country border. Thus, import / export between geographical locations in the region (for example, between two states, two cities, two regions) is monitored by, for example, a security agency or a regional government agency. The problem is that checkpoints cannot easily gather information about typical containers with other containers layered inside.

  Nested container 185 addresses this visualization problem. The nested container 185 functions as an agent by voluntarily collecting and processing information for presentation to the central system. Nested containers 185 are stored and relate themselves to adjacent containers to form a relative hierarchy of logistic units. The relative hierarchy reveals higher layer containers and lower layer containers. The container 185 nested at the top layer preferably outputs a relative hierarchy in response to a question, but any layer may do so. In one embodiment, nested container 185 enables master status once it is determined to be the top layer. In another embodiment, the nested container 185 updates the relative hierarchy upon detecting a configuration change (eg, if a previously nested container did not respond to a periodic query).

  As used herein, a “layer” within a hierarchy can be defined in various ways. In general, each layer can identify itself in response to a question, and its relative relationship with other layers is defined. Lower layers can be included within higher layers. For example, a first layer item or commodity is contained in a second layer package, and the package is contained in a layer 3 carton. The spectrum of a layer can extend from the lowest layer item to the highest layer vehicle. Preferably, low function automatic identification techniques such as barcodes are in the lower layer and high function automatic identification techniques such as active RFID (radio frequency identification) tags are in the upper layer.

  As container 185 travels on the route through global supply chain 100, it will receive questions at different checkpoints. When unloading from a truck at the shipping port 105b, the pallets once related can be separated and re-related. Since tracks are no longer the top layer in the hierarchy, containers 185 nested at a much lower layer can provide similar information to the interrogator. Further embodiments of the nested container 185 and the internal method of operation are described below.

  2A-2C are schematic diagrams illustrating an exemplary physical layer within a container hierarchy in accordance with some embodiments of the present invention. Accordingly, the container 185 nested in the top layer includes a container 210 having an identification device 220 as shown in FIG. 2A. The nested container houses a nested palette 216 that holds a nested container 212 with nested items 214. The identification device 220 communicates with the integrated reader device 225 (preferably wireless) and then communicates with a site server or site administrator 250. The site server 250 can be a local part of the central system for safety management, tracking, etc. The integrated reader device 225 can collect information about the containers 185, 210, 212, 214 and the nested palette 216 for local analysis or upload. The integrated reader device 225 can also write instructions and / or data to the nested containers 185, 210, 212, 214 and the nested palette 216. The integrated reader device 225 will be described in more detail in association with FIG.

  FIG. 2B shows a container 212 nested in a lower layer comprising a container 222 having an identification device 232. The nested pallet 216 shown in this embodiment is a platform for a group of nested containers 212 that is useful when moving with a forklift, for example. The nested palette 216 includes a palette 226 and an identification device 236. Both identification devices 232, 236 can also communicate with integrated reader device 225. FIG. 2C also shows a container 214 nested at a lower layer than the nested container 212 with items 224 having a barcode 234 or other inexpensive identification device.

  FIG. 2D is a schematic diagram illustrating proximity containers 210a-210c having nested containers 212, 214 therein, respectively. Each proximity container 210 has an identification device 220. One or more of the identification devices 220 can communicate with the integrated reader device 225 (preferably wireless). The integrated reader device 225 can collect information about the container 210 for local analysis or upload. In addition, the identification devices 220 on the proximity container 210 communicate with each other.

  As used herein, a “container” can comprise common containers called, for example, merchandise, items, packages, freight, complex intermodal containers, flate, boxes, and the like. Containers are also described below with reference to FIG. 4, for example, a layer or unit referred to as IMC (Multiple Integrated Transport Container), IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container), RTC (Reuse Transport Container), ULD (Unit Load Equipment) It is also possible to provide an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standardization container in the form of a layer to perform. It should be noted that the containers 210, 222, 224 are merely exemplary, and the size, shape, and configuration (eg, more than two doors) can vary.

Although the layers are different, the identification devices 220, 232, 236 can communicate with the integrated reader device 225 independently. Accordingly, the identification devices 220 and 232 do not need to daisy chain information on the ladder because the integrated reader device 225 can collect information from any source. In one embodiment, the identification device 220, 232 automatically verifies AMR (Automatic Inventory Conventions) information by downloading from a central system and comparing with visible items. As a result, the identification devices 220 and 232 can confirm the AMR in the central safety management system, and can notify the operator or the agent about whether or not the goods are correctly loaded.

  The identification devices 220, 232, 234 are coupled to, attached to, mounted on, or otherwise associated with the containers 210, 222, 224 for identification. In one embodiment, the identification devices 220, 232, 234 are interoperable, albeit mixed. For example, in one embodiment, the identification device 220 comprises an active identification device, such as an active RFID tag, the identification device 232 comprises a passive identification device, such as a passive RFID tag, and the identification device 234 provides a barcode. You may prepare. Other types of identification devices such as EPC (electronic product code) tags not described herein may be used in some embodiments. Exemplary identification devices are described in further detail below with reference to FIGS. 3A-3C.

  FIG. 3A is a block diagram illustrating a passive identification device 305 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The passive identification device 305, or “passive tag”, is a simple device that does not have an active element. The passive identification device 305 includes an identification module 315, a transceiver 310, and transmission means 320.

  The identification module 315 includes programmed identification information associated with the container in which the passive identification device 305 is attached. The transceiver 310 includes a basic communication channel necessary for transmitting identification information. The term “transmitter / receiver” is used broadly in this specification because the passive identification device 305 does not actually receive data. Rather, the transceiver 310 temporarily activates the passive identification device 305 to transmit identification information to the system via the transmission means 320 in response to the transmission signal. In one embodiment, the transmitting means 320 is an antenna.

  FIG. 3B is a block diagram illustrating an active identification device 325 according to one embodiment of the present invention. The basic structure of the active type identification device 325, that is, the “active type tag” includes an ultra high frequency (UHF) transceiver 330, a low frequency receiver 335, a processor unit 340, a memory 345, a sensor coprocessor unit 350, an alarm 355. , A reset & undervoltage circuit 360, and a power source such as a battery 365 are included.

  The UHF transceiver 330 comprises physical, logical, analog and / or digital communication channels necessary to transmit / receive identification information, layer information, etc. to / from an active or integrated reader device 225, for example. For example, if the identification device 325 comprises an RFID device, the UHF transceiver 330 comprises an RF transmitter and receiver. Signals are transmitted and received through the antenna 332. The oscillator 334 controls the clock and synchronization, and the data interface 336 connects the UHF transceiver 330 to the processor unit 340. Furthermore, the UHF transceiver 330 allows the identification device 325 to communicate with other active identification devices.

  The low frequency receiver 335 receives, for example, a signal from a signpost within a specific distance of the active identification device 325 via the antenna 338 and provides physical information necessary for providing the active identification device 325 with location information. Logical, analog and / or digital communication channels. The low frequency receiver 335 interfaces 342 to the processor unit 340.

  The processor unit 340 includes, for example, a CPU (Central Processing Unit), a mobile CPU, a controller, or other device that executes instructions. In one embodiment, processor unit 340 contains active or integrated reader device 225 and software that processes signals received from signposts. In one embodiment, the processing includes transmission to and reception from the identification device and associated signals received from the device. Clock and synchronization for the active identification device 325 is provided by an oscillator 344.

  Memory 345 may be a volatile or non-volatile device that can store program instructions and / or data. The sensor coprocessor unit 350 interfaces with the main processor unit 340, receives signals from the passive identification device 305, and establishes a relative hierarchy of containers or relationships between containers. The sensor coprocessor unit 350 will be described in more detail in connection with FIG. 3C.

  Alarm 355, reset, and undervoltage circuit 360 serve to monitor the mechanism for active identification device 325. The alarm 355 indicates the location of the active identification device 325 with a sound, or suggests that the container associated with the active identification device 325 remains sealed. The reset and undervoltage circuit 360 monitors the voltage and timing of the processor unit 340.

  The battery 365 provides a direct current (DC) voltage source to the active identification device 325. The battery 365 is indicated by a dotted line, indicating that it can be externally connected to the active type identification device 325.

FIG. 3C is a block diagram illustrating the sensor coprocessor unit 350 in more detail according to one embodiment of the present invention. As described above, the sensor coprocessor unit 350 interfaces with the main processor unit 340 and receives signals from the passive identification device 305. Therefore, the sensor coprocessor unit 350 can be considered as a processor specialized for passive identification information. The basic structure of the sensor co-processor unit 350, transceiver 370, memory 375 includes a coprocessor 380, and various sensors 38 5.

  The transceiver 370 includes physical, logical, analog and / or digital communication channels necessary for transmitting and receiving identification information, layer information, and the like to the passive identification device 305 via the antenna 372, for example. Transceiver 370 interfaces with coprocessor 380 and memory 375 via data / expansion port 374.

  Memory 375 may be a volatile or non-volatile device that can store program instructions and / or data. In one embodiment, memory 375 is a series of electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM).

  Coprocessor 380 is similar to processor unit 340 of FIG. 3B. It comprises a CPU (Central Processing Unit), a mobile CPU, a controller, or other device that executes instructions. In one embodiment, coprocessor 380 contains software that processes signals received from passive identification device 305.

  Sensor 385 monitors various conditions relating to the entire container. In one embodiment, sensor 385 includes a door open detector, a light sensor, an impact sensor, and a temperature and relative humidity sensor.

  The configuration of the active identification device 325 described with reference to FIGS. 3B and 3C is merely an example, and can be changed based on a desired function.

  FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating the ISO logistic layer in an exemplary container hierarchy according to one embodiment of the invention. Logistic layers or units include item layer 410a, package layer 410b, carton layer 410c, unit load layer 410d, container layer 410e (not intended to redefine "container" as used herein), and vehicle layer 410f is included. As shown in FIG. 4, each layer can establish a relative hierarchy by communicating identification information and layer information with each other in a many-to-many relationship. In one embodiment, the layer information relates to which logistic layer the nested container 185 belongs to. In another embodiment, the container hierarchy uses a non-ISO layer.

The item layer 410a includes, for example, an item such as a computer with a serial number or a product. Items can have serial numbers or passive tags. The package layer 410b includes, for example, a box used to accommodate items and their accessories. The package can have a bar code, UPC code, passive tag, and the like. The carton layer 410c comprises, for example, one or more packages that move together on the pallet. The unit load layer 410d can have an active or passive tag. The container layer 410e includes, for example, 40 ′, 8 ′, and 8 ′ metal boxes made of one or more pallets. Containers can have active or passive tags attached inside or outside. The vehicle layer 410 f includes, for example, one or more containers. The vehicle can have active or passive tags.

  Refer to FIG. 7A. FIG. 7A shows a block diagram of an integrated reader device 225 according to one embodiment of the present invention. The integrated reader device 225 is configured to read from both passive 305 and active 325 identification devices. In one embodiment, the integrated reader device 225 is portable as shown in FIG. 7C. In another embodiment, the integrated reader device 225 is stationary. The integrated reader device 225 includes a first (active) UHF transceiver 710, a second (passive) UHF transceiver 715, a processor unit 720, a memory 725, a light emitting diode (LED), an external computer interface 740, and a power supply 745 may be included.

  The first UHF transceiver (active) 710 is, for example, a physical, logical, analog and / or digital necessary for transmitting / receiving identification information, layer information, etc. to / from the active identification device 325 via the antenna 712. A communication channel is provided. The first UHF transceiver (active) 710 is available from various vendors. The first UHF transceiver 710 is configured to transmit and receive signals from the active identification device 325 up to 300 feet away. In one embodiment, the first UHF transceiver 710 transmits and receives a 433 MHz signal. The oscillator 714 controls the clock and synchronization, and the data interface 716 connects the first UHF transceiver 710 to the processor unit 720. Further, the first UHF transceiver 710 includes buffers and / or queues necessary to send information to the processor unit 720 if the processor unit 720 is ready to receive information.

The second UHF transceiver (passive) 715 is, for example, physical, logical, analog and / or digital necessary for transmitting / receiving identification information, layer information, etc. to / from the passive identification device 305 via the antenna 718. A communication channel is provided. The second UHF transceiver (passive) 715 can be obtained and purchased from various vendors such as Symbol Technologies in Oakland, California. In one embodiment, the second UHF transceiver 715 is configured to transmit and receive signals from the passive identification device 305 up to 30 feet away. In other embodiments, the distance range is even wider. In one embodiment, the 2 UHF transceiver 71 5 transmits and receives a 900MHz signal. The term “transmitter / receiver” is used broadly in this specification because the passive UHF transceiver 715 normally receives data without transmitting data to the passive identification device 305. The data interface 722 connects the second UHF transceiver 715 to the processor unit 720. Further, the second UHF transceiver 715 includes buffers and / or queues necessary to send information to the processor unit 720 if the processor unit 720 is ready to receive information.

  The processor unit 720 includes, for example, a CPU (Central Processing Unit), a mobile CPU, a controller, or other device that executes instructions. In one embodiment, the processor unit 720 contains software 765 that processes signals received from the integrated reader device 225. The software 765 will be described in more detail in association with FIG. 7B. The oscillator 724 controls the clock and synchronization of the processor unit 720.

  The processor unit 720 can alternately switch between transmitting and receiving active and passive signals. In addition, the processor unit 720 performs various other processing functions for the integrated reader device 225, as described in connection with FIG. 7B.

  In one embodiment (not shown), processor unit 720 includes two separate units—a processor that processes signals from active identification device 325 and a processor that processes signals from passive identification device 305. -Comprising. In this embodiment, the processors may be coupled to each other by communication, and the integrated reader device 225 may include an active reader and a passive reader. In this embodiment, the active reader and the passive reader are removable from each other and collect information independently.

  Memory 725 may be a volatile or non-volatile device that can store program instructions and / or data. LED 730 is an indicator that indicates that data is being transmitted and / or received, and may indicate that integrated reader device 225 is receiving power.

  The integrated reader device 225 can also include an external computer interface 740 and / or a power source 745. The external computer interface 740, if any, serves to connect the integrated reader device 225 to, for example, the site administrator 250 or other computer. For example, the external computer interface 740 can be connected to another processor (not shown) by software that generates a query signal.

  The power source 745 supplies power to the integrated reader device 225, if any. The power source 745 includes a battery 750, a battery charger 755, and a voltage regulator 760 as current sources. In an alternative embodiment, the power source 745 is externally connected to the integrated reader device 225, i.e. separated from the integrated reader device 225.

  Refer to FIG. 7B. FIG. 7B shows a block diagram illustrating an exemplary software configuration for a dual mode reader device according to one embodiment of the present invention. In one embodiment, the software 765 includes an active signal processing unit 770, a passive signal processing unit 775, a query unit 780, a signal related unit 785, and a signal transmission unit 790.

  The active signal processing unit 770 includes software for processing signals transmitted to and received from the active identification device 325. The passive signal processing unit 775 includes software that processes signals transmitted to and received from the passive identification device 305. The interrogator 780 includes software that initiates signals to interrogate the active discriminator 325 and the passive discriminator 305. The signal related unit 785 includes software for relating the signals from the various passive type identification devices 305 and the active type identification device 325 and mirroring the relationship between the containers. The signal transmission unit 790 includes software that transmits the processed signal to an external computer. The software 770-790 may not be a discrete software module. The configuration shown here is for illustrative purposes only. That is, other configurations are anticipated and within the scope of the present invention.

  In this way, the integrated device 225 can read the hybrid tag. Thereby, the passive tag 305 and the active tag 325 can be read by a single device, and the interrelationship between the hybrid tags can be established. Because a single reader can read both active and passive tags, the integrated device 225 saves significant time, money, and equipment, with separate readers for each tag type. It is more advantageous than conventional readers that need it.

  FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram illustrating an example of locations 805-815 where information can be exchanged between the identification devices 305, 325 and between the identification devices 305, 325 and the integrated reader device 225 according to one embodiment of the invention. .

  In one embodiment, the collection of identification information begins at a shipping location 805, such as shipper 105a or shipping port 105b where the container is packaged. Identification information is collected from the active identification device 325 and the passive identification device 305 using the integrated reader device 225a at the shipping location 805. For example, when the portable integrated reader device 225a is used, the portable device is placed within a tag reading range, and identification information is collected therefrom. In the case of the fixed reader device 225c, the tag is read and identification information is collected therefrom as the container passes in the vicinity of the fixed device within the tag range, for example, on a conveyor belt or in a transport vehicle. The integrated reader device 225a can individually receive signals from each identification device 305, 325, or can receive information about several identification devices 305, 325 from one or more active identification devices 325. These processes will be described in more detail in association with FIG.

  In the route 810 on the way from the shipping location 805 to the receiving location 815, the identification devices 305 and 325 receive an inquiry by the active type or integrated type reader device 225b. In addition, the identification devices 305, 325 can communicate with each other to establish how their associated containers are related (eg, nested or proximity). These processes will be described in more detail in association with FIG. 5 and FIG.

  In one embodiment, the last query for container identification information occurs when the container arrives at a receiving location 815, such as destination port 105d or consignee 105e. At the receiving location 815, the container can pass by the integrated reader device 225c. The integrated reader device 225c can transmit and receive identification information from the active identification device 325 and the passive identification device 305. The integrated reader device 225c can individually receive signals from each of the identification devices 305, 325, or can receive information about several identification devices 305, 325 from one or more active identification devices 325. These processes will be described in more detail in association with FIG.

  FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating two examples 910 and 920 of the identification information collecting method according to one embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, for example, identification information is collected from a series of containers in a package at the shipping location 805.

In one embodiment (indicated by solid line 910), the process begins with collecting 930 passive device identification information from one or more passive identification devices 305. The active identification device 325 is then selected 940 from the available devices. For example, an active tag 325 can be selected 940 such that the container surrounds the passive identification device 305 container. The passive tag information collected at step 930 is then written 950 to the selected active tag 325. These steps may be repeated as necessary to adapt to various nested containers having active 325 and passive identification devices 305. Finally, collect identification information 960 from the active tag 325.

  For example, this process may be used in a warehouse when loading items into a container. In this scenario, the agent has one or more shipping containers to load to ship the container units and items. For example, at the item level, each piece has a passive tag associated with it. As each item is loaded into the container unit, item identification information is collected 930. When the agent places the item in a container unit, eg, a shipping container, the active tag identification device associated with the larger container is selected 940 and passive tag information is written to the selected active tag. 950. The agent repeats this process until the container unit is full. Identification information can then be collected 960 from the active tag associated with the container unit that would include identification information about the passive tag read into the active tag at step 950. Similarly, active tag information from other container units in the shipping container can also be collected in a manner similar to processes 930-940 and written 950 to the active tag associated with the shipping container. If the shipping container is full, identification information can be collected 960 from the active tag associated with the shipping container.

  In another embodiment (indicated by dotted line 920), the process begins by collecting 960 identification information from the active identification device 325. Next, the active type identification device 325 is selected 940 from the devices 325 that collected the identification information in step 960. Then, collect 930 passive device identification information. Finally, the passive tag information collected at step 930 is written 950 to the selected active tag 325.

  For example, this process may be used in a warehouse when loading items into a container. In this scenario, the agent has a container unit and one or more shipping containers that are loaded to ship the item. For example, each item has a passive tag associated with it, and each container unit has an active tag associated with it. Initially, the agent collects 960 identification information from each active tag associated with the container unit. Next, the agent selects a single container unit to load items from the group of container units and selects 940 an active tag associated with that container unit. The agent then collects 930 passive tag identification information from each item when loaded into the container unit. Finally, the identification information collected from the passive tag is written 950 to the active tag selected at step 940.

  FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a method 500 for providing nested visualization according to one embodiment of the present invention. The method 500 is performed at any time, for example, during a mid-route 810 from the shipping location 805 to the receiving location 815.

  In one embodiment, the active identification device 325 receives an interrogation signal. The question signal asks for answers of identification information and layer information through various identification devices 305 and 325. The following description relates to a single active identification device 325, but each active tag is capable of the following process.

  The processor unit 340 of the active identification device 325 establishes 520 a relative hierarchy, described further below with reference to FIG. A relative hierarchy based on the answer to the question signal provides visualization from that layer. Thus, interrogators of the identification device 325, such as the integrated reader 225, can gather information about the container and its nested adjacent containers from a single device interaction.

  The UHF transceiver 330 of the active tag 325 outputs 530 the relative hierarchy. The output can be based on a response to a scheduled communication with the reader, a response to a specific interrogation signal, or a periodic notification to the subscriber. For example, you may output with respect to the integrated reader apparatus 225 via the agency which has a portable apparatus.

  If there is a change in nest 540, the process is repeated. For example, when a small container is loaded into a large container while the container is on the way, the nest changes. In this example, information about the container can be read by the reader device when the container passes through the door of the large container. Accordingly, the container information is downloaded to the active type identification device 325 associated with the large container. Since tags can communicate with each other, even if such a nesting change occurs, the tags can be correctly stored in the outermost active identification device.

  FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a method 520 for establishing a relative hierarchy according to an embodiment of the present invention. The relative hierarchy is based on responses from adjacent, nested containers. In one embodiment, the relationship information can be preloaded at checkpoints in the global supply chain 100. If a response from a lower layer container 610, eg, a container in a container associated with the active tag 325, is received at the active tag 325, the processor unit 340 of the active tag 325 will receive from these containers. Is organized into lower layer aggregated information 610 to establish hierarchical information about the container and its contents. In one embodiment, organizing includes organizing data in a hierarchy that mirrors the hierarchy of the layers. Aggregated information can include several layers to divide sub-hierarchies. Furthermore, the active tag 325 can receive a response from another active tag 325 on a nearby container, such as a container stacked several layers below the first container.

  Similarly, if responses from upper layer containers 630 are received, these containers are organized 640 into upper layer aggregate information including several layers and sub-layers. In one embodiment, the processor 340 sends 650 aggregate information to a known upper layer container. The device 325 can also store in the memory 345 information about the hierarchies that respond to the interrogation signal.

  Some information contradicts because many-to-many relationships exist between layers. Thus, in one embodiment, conflicting materials are recognized and removed. In another embodiment, conflicting information is used for verification or reliability scoring. In yet another embodiment, conflicting information is resolved in a variety of ways, such as using top layer information or using directly obtained information.

  The above example presents only one embodiment of a method for providing nested visualization according to the present invention. Variations of the above method are contemplated by the present invention and will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

  FIG. 10 is a flowchart illustrating a method for collecting identification information according to an embodiment of the present invention. The illustrated embodiment is a method of collecting identification information from a series of containers while unloading, for example, at a receiving location 815.

  In one embodiment, the process is initiated by the processor 720 of the integrated reader device 225 that initiates the query 1010 of the plurality of identification devices 305, 325. In another embodiment, the interrogation signal is initiated by software external to the integrated reader device 225, eg, software in a computer connected to the integrated reader device 225 via the external computer interface 740. Next, the transceivers 720 and 715 of the integrated reader device 225 transmit 1020 question signals to the identification devices 305 and 325. The identification information signal is then received 1030 from the identification devices 305, 325.

  After receiving the signal, the integrated reader device 225 processes 1040 the signal. In one embodiment, process 1040 includes a process of relating identification information signals from various identification devices 305, 325. In the last step, the processed signal is sent 1050 to an external computer.

  Finally, it should be noted that the terminology used in the specification is selected for the sake of readability and explanation in principle, and not to limit or constrain the subject matter of the invention. That's what it means. Accordingly, the disclosure of the present invention is intended to illustrate the scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims, and is not intended to be limiting.

1 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary global supply chain according to one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary physical layer in a container hierarchy according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary physical layer in a container hierarchy according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating an exemplary physical layer in a container hierarchy according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating a proximity container having a nested container therein, according to an embodiment of the present invention. It is a block diagram explaining the passive type identification device by one embodiment of this invention. It is a block diagram explaining the active type identification device by one embodiment of this invention. It is a block diagram explaining the active type identification device by one embodiment of this invention. FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating an ISO logistic layer in an exemplary container hierarchy according to one embodiment of the invention. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a method for providing nested visualization according to an embodiment of the present invention. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a method for establishing a relative hierarchy according to an embodiment of the present invention. It is a block diagram explaining the dual mode type reader device by one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary software configuration for a dual mode reader device according to an embodiment of the present invention. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a portable dual mode reader device according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating exemplary locations where information can be exchanged between identification devices and between an identification device and an integrated reader device according to an embodiment of the present invention. It is a flowchart explaining the example of collection of the identification information by one embodiment of this invention. It is a flowchart explaining the collection method of the identification information by one embodiment of this invention.

Claims (9)

  1. A method of collecting identification information from a plurality of active identification devices associated with a plurality of containers, comprising:
    Transmitting a question signal from a reading device to the plurality of identification devices associated with the plurality of containers, wherein each of the plurality of identification devices to which the question signal has been transmitted includes: Identification information about at least one other identification device among the plurality of identification devices transmitted can be transmitted to the reading device;
    From the first identification device in the plurality of identification devices to which the question signal is transmitted , the identification information about the first identification device and the second identification device in the plurality of identification devices to which the question signal is transmitted the identification information, by the reader, receiving, wherein the identification information of the second identification device is for the first identification device has previously received from the second identification device,
    Storing the identification information received in the receiving step in a memory ;
    A method comprising:
  2.   The method of claim 1, wherein the first identification device is associated with a first container, the second identification device is associated with a second container, and the second container is proximate to the first container.
  3. The first identification device is associated with a first container and the second identification device is associated with a second container;
    The receiving step further receives identification information about a third identification device associated with a third container from the first identification device , wherein the identification information about the third identification device is the first identification device. The method of claim 1, wherein one identification device has been previously received from the third identification device .
  4.   4. The method of claim 3, wherein the second and third containers are proximate to the first container.
  5.   4. The method of claim 3, wherein the first, second and third containers are stacked, the first container is above the second container, and the second container is above the third container.
  6.   The method of claim 1, wherein the first identification device is associated with a first container, the second identification device is associated with a second container, and the second container is remote from the first container.
  7.   The method of claim 1, wherein the first identification device is configured to receive identification information from another identification device in the plurality of identification devices.
  8.   The method of claim 1, wherein the first identification device is associated with a first container, the second identification device is associated with a second container, and the second container is stored in the first container.
  9. The first identification device is associated with a first container, the second identification device is associated with a second container;
    The receiving step further receives identification information about a third identification device associated with a third container from the first identification device , wherein the identification information about the third identification device is the first identification device. A first identification device received in advance from the third identification device , wherein the first, second and third containers are nested, the first container houses the second container, The method of claim 1, wherein two containers contain the third container.
JP2006544039A 2003-12-09 2004-12-09 Item level visualization technology for nested and adjacent containers Expired - Fee Related JP5185533B2 (en)

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EP1692668A2 (en) 2006-08-23
KR20060099540A (en) 2006-09-19
KR20080044355A (en) 2008-05-20

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