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Experiment of Information Sharing System for Supply Chains Using Electronic Tags To solve social challenges lying in supply chains

To achieve one of the goals set in the Plan to Introduce 100 Billion Electronic Tags for Products in Convenience Stores, on February 14, 2018, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI)will launch an experiment involving sharing information gained from electronic tags attached to products throughout supply chains. Making use of the tags attached to respective products, METI aims to both make inventory information and other supply-chain-relevant data identifiable and enhance collaboration between different layers of supply chains.

1. Background to the experiment

The retail industry in Japan is facing a labor shortage and an increase in labor costs due to the impact of the declining birthrate. It also faces a variety of issues across its supply chains, including food loss and returned goods, despite achieving highly effective logistics backed by mass production and frequent deliveries.

As a policy aimed at overcoming these challenges, in April 2017, METI formulated the Plan to Introduce 100 Billion Electronic Tags for Products in Convenience Stores in cooperation with operators of convenience store chains. Under the plan, METI and the operators reached an agreement on introducing electronic tags into all products sold in their convenience stores under predetermined conditions, by 2025.

To achieve the goal of information sharing between supply chains as set in the plan, this experimental project will launch a prototype of an information sharing system for supply chains and test the operation of the system. The experiment will make use of radio-frequency identification(RFID)* technology to read electronic tags attached to products and will collect data on specific products in terms of date and time, location and inventory numbers. Through this, METI aims to develop an environment in which supply chains are able to share data on such products.

*Note:Radio-frequency identification(RFID)is an automatic recognition technology that uses radio waves to read and write data stored in electronic tags.

2. Outline of the experiment

This experiment will provide an environment in which participating companies upstream in supply chains will read electronic tags attached to products in loading and unloading and will send the collected data to a test-information-sharing system to be built for the experiment. Through these steps, METI will examine whether or not businesses involved in supply chains are able to share inventory information and other data appropriately.

The experimental flow of products is categorized into two patterns as below.

(1)Sending products via distribution centers
Concerning target processed foods and commodities transported to test distribution centers, participating companies will attach electronic tags to each item at these centers. Following this step, the data stored in the tags will be read at the centers and sent to a test information sharing system.
After the data is collected, they will ship these target products to participating stores. Then these stores will read the data from the tags in loading and selling the products and send the data back to the system.
(2)Sending products directly to stores
Concerning target products sent directly to participating stores, participating manufacturers will attach electronic tags to each product, read data from the tags and send the data to the system and then ship the products.
Then these stores will read the data from the tags in loading and selling the products and send the data to the system.

3. Details of the experiment

(1)Period:From February 14 to 23, 2018

(2)Venues

  • FamilyMart convenience store at METI Office Building
  • Lawson convenience store at Marunouchi Park Building
  • Ministop convenience store at 3 chome, Kandanihikicho

(3)Cooperating companies, etc.

  • Company to which METI commissioned the project
    Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.
  • Companies cooperating by providing retail locations
    FamilyMart Co., Ltd.
    Lawson, Inc.
    Ministop Co., Ltd.
  • Company cooperating by providing distribution
    Hitachi Transport System, Ltd.
  • Companies cooperating by providing wholesaling
    Participating wholesalers responsible for respective steps
  • Cooperating manufacturers
    UCC Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd.
    Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd.
    Calbee, Inc.
    Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd.
    P&G Japan
    Yamazaki Baking Co., Ltd.
    Lion Corporation
  • Cooperating companies in providing systems
    Welcat Inc.
    Teijin Ltd.
    Toshiba Tec Corporation
    Denso Wave Incorporated
    Japan Pallet Rental Corporation
    Panasonic Corporation
    Fujitsu Ltd.
    Microsoft Japan Co., Ltd.
  • Experts
    Dr. Jin Mitsugi, professor, Keio University
    Japan Automatic Identification Systems Association
    Mizuho Information and Research Institute, Inc.
    Distribution Systems Research Institute

(4)Project name:FY2017 NEDO Project for the Development of Infrastructures for Creating New Industrial Models Taking Advantage of IoT: Research and Development for Establishment of Information Sharing Systems for Supply Chains Using Electronic Tags, organized by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization(NEDO)

Release date

February 2, 2018

Division in Charge

Consumer Affairs, Distribution and Retail Industry Division, Commerce and Service Industry Policy Group

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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