Jeff Wells, our CEO, utilized his experience leading research and development projects for other successful enterprises to start Horizon Computer Systems in 1984. Jeff then teamed up with Ernie Francise and incorporated Franwell in June of 1993. Franwell began looking into wireless signaling technology in the early 1990s, seeking an innovative way to provide better visibility into product shipments and receipts, with a particularly strong interest in the fresh food supply chain.
The company embarked on a Research and Development effort with Georgia Tech Research Institute that not only garnered a great deal of knowledge about radio frequency technology, it formed the basis of an R&D alliance with GTRI that is still going strong today. Being ahead of its time and the RFID blitz, the company shifted its focus to development of an ERP/WMS system for the produce industry and launched the Agware product in 1999. Still, the promise of that early research continued to intrigue the company leaders and they continued to research, learn and work with RFID.
In 2004, Jeff knew it was time to shift the focus of the company back to the developing RFID market. Franwell began developing products for the RFID market, including our compliance solution Genesis, Trace and the Tote Portal. We have also developed a conveyor tunnel which allows a client to read RFID tags on items conveyed inside a shipping tote, whether they are UHF or HF tags or a mixture of both.
Franwell formed another successful alliance with a leading university when in 2004 the company helped create an RFID lab for the University of Florida’s Center for Food Distribution and Retailing; Co-directed by Dr. Jean-Pierre Emond and Dr. Jeff Brecht, the CFDR’s objective is to apply a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the whole distribution chain and the effects of new practices and technologies on the final quality of food products. As an associate member of the CFDR, Franwell works with the CFDR on many projects involving RFID in the supply chain, with a particular focus on cold chain management and fresh foods. It is also through this relationship, that Franwell has become involved in the air cargo industry, conducting a successful pilot for Air Canada Cargo using RFID to track cargo shipments. This alliance gives us access to resources, knowledge and research that provide a competitive edge to our clients.
It was also through the CFDR that Franwell began working with Publix Super Markets, Tanimura & Antle, A. Duda & Sons and Del Monte Fresh Produce on the V2 Project conceived in 2005. The project proved the viability of using RFID pallet level tags and the EPCGlobal network for tracking produce shipments from the grower/supplier to the retailer’s warehouse. Completed in 2006, the project was featured in the cover article of Integrated Solutions for Wireless Mobility and RFID in the June 2006 issue.
During this project, Jeff had the opportunity to work with Terri Crawford, Business IT Manager, who at the time was responsible for strategic IT planning in the Warehousing and Distribution Business Area and any RFID efforts at the company. In March 2006, Terri joined Franwell as its Chief Operating Officer and VP.
We have continued our research and development of RFID technologies in many areas and industries, yet have recently begun to narrow our focus to the supply chain with a particular interest in perishable and pharmaceutical product and other products that require special handling, added security and a reliable method of track and trace.