Archive for the ‘Asset tracking (non IT)’ Category

Hotels adopt RFID solutions to deter theft of linens and other guest room items

Monday, April 18th, 2011

RFID is helping hotel owners to limit shrinkage when it comes to linens like towels, robes and bed sheets. According to reports in Time and the New York Times, hotels are embedding washable RFID tags into towels that trigger an alarm when guests leave the hotel with a atgged item.

According to reports, three hotels in Hawaii utilizing the technology have dramatically reduced shrinkage. High cotton prices are driving the adoption of RFID-based solutions for this market.

RFID Live Day 2: ODIN medical solution grabs the industry spotlight

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The most exciting news coming out of the second day of RFID Live was the announcement by ODIN that it is partnering with the Mayo Clinic to commercialize a solution designed to automate tracking and data entry in pathology labs.

The solution could revolutionize the way that specimens are tracked as they move from one step to another. ODIN estimates that the average industry error rate of 10 percent could drop dramatically.

“The people at the Mayo Clinic are stunned that this is still a paper-based system,” says ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney. “Each time a product comes into the lab, it gets re-labeled. One specimen might get re-labeled five or six times, and it could be get mis-labeled during the process.”

ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney

“Pathology labs almost universally receive paper requisition forms with accompanying specimens for accessioning into the laboratory information systems,” says Schuyler Sanderson, a Mayo Clinic pathologist who has been championing RFID for AP specimen management at Mayo. “These paper requisition forms are typically filled in by hand from nursing staff and clinical providers. This practice represents a major source of specimen labeling errors, all of which have the potential for … adverse outcomes for patients.”

Mayo has been researching the solution for four years, and hired ODIN last year to commercialize the solution. Mayo has already begun to roll out the solution at 42 labs in North America. ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney says that the average size lab could expect to pay about $500,000 for a solution, but could save $1-2 million per year, half from soft savings like labor costs and the other on material savings. ROI is expected in 12 months or less.

There are fun things we do at ODIN, like the social media applications with Vail Resorts,” says Sweeney. “Then there are things that are changing the world and this is an application that is changing the world.”

Sweeney also provided an update on his firm’s revenues, noting that sales increased 30 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same period last year. He expects healthcare to represent 50 percent of ODIN’s revenues in 2011.

Wisconsin farmers surpass one million mark for livestock tagging

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Tracking animals with RFID continues to explode, especially in Wisconsin, where dairy farmers recently tagged their one-millionth cow.

By comparison, only 138,260 RFID tags had been recorded for tracking animals two years ago. By March 2009, that number had grown to 405,134. According to the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium, only 16 percent of the milking dairy herd in Wisconsin is identified by RFID, leaving room for massive growth.

“Wisconsin farmers have really stepped up to the plate when it comes to using RFID,” says Ben Brancel, Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for the state of Wisconsin. “Using RFID improves traceability and opens doors to international markets.”

Animal tracking with RFID – tags are usually placed in the animal’s ear — is being driven by consumers who are more conscious of where their food comes from, as well as safety and food tracing initiatives. In addition, the agricultural industry is pressing for more traceability due to residue and disease issues.

For example, farmers saw significant benefits when TB-tests had to be conducted on a 3,000-cow herd that had been exposed by imported cattle. Brancel says that 360 animals an hour needed to be tested each hour to avoid disrupting the milking operation. If authorities had to manually read and record data for that many animals, it would have required 36 staff members and cost $84,000. Because the herd was tagged with RFID, only six people were needed to complete testing, at a cost of $22,000. Just as important, the producer’s operation experienced no interruptions in processing.

“We’ve seen a dramatic example of how RFID can save producer headaches and taxpayer dollars,” says Brancel. “Those are results you can take to the bank, and we’re glad Wisconsin farmers know that.”

Over the past few years, WLIC has worked with producers, county fairs, veterinarians, and other livestock groups to promote the value of animal identification and RFID for herd management as well as animal health and traceability purposes. WLIC also offers tag programs where producers and county fairs looking to implement RFID can apply to receive RFID tags at no cost. These tags are distributed on a first come, first serve basis, to qualified applicants.

RFID makes major inroads into supply chain, healthcare and financial sectors

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

In case you missed Wednesday’s issue of RFID 24-7, here is our lead story.

There is major traction for item level RFID in the retail environment, but several other industries are also seeing rapid adoption. That’s been evident by the RFID-enabled hygiene systems being unveiled at this week’s annual conference hosted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

In addition, there’s a big story unfolding in Europe, where Confidex has filled an order for 3.5 million tags for Container Centralen to use in tracking floral deliveries. The deal is the largest UHF RFID tag implementation for returnable transit items in the world, and is also the largest purchase order of EPC Gen2 specialty tags ever.

Lastly, keep an eye out for greater use of RFID in financial circles, including tagging bundles of cash. The recent publicity RFID gained in the theft of RFID-tagged poker chips from a Las Vegas casino has put more focus on how RFID could help to track large amounts of cash — from casinos, to armored cars and banks, to the large amounts of money moved by retailers like Walmart.

The European Central Bank has been using bar codes to help track large bundles of cash for several years. Recently, it began to look into using RFID. Central banks in the U.S. are also looking at the technology. Although the U.S. is far behind its European counterparts, the idea of using RFID to track and trace hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash is intriguing and makes sense.

Just as the healthcare industry is using RFID to track assets worth a quarter million or more, it makes sense to tag cash for the same reasons. Aside from providing visibility into the movement of money, such a solution would also guard against theft and counterfeiting and would assist in providing more accurate cash counts for banks, retailers and others.

“There has been a very aggressive effort with the banks in Europe to take those same [bar code] practices and add RFID where appropriate,” says Sue Hutchinson, director of industry adoption at EPCglobal. “When you think about retailers like Walmart and casinos and all of the other places on the planet that have to manage cash, RFID will be an interesting initiative. It’s in the very early stages here in the U.S. and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Another recent deployment playing out in Europe is the tagging of a fleet of 3.5 million containers used to transport floral goods throughout Europe. The tracking system went live last month, with special UHF Gen2 RFID tags from Confidex being used for Container Centralen’s full scale RFID rollout called “Operation Chip It.” Confidex developed and delivered tags to IBM Denmark, which are used as an electronic seal by Container Centralen. The tag has been in development for over two years.

The new tag brings unprecedented transparency to the supply chain and improves overall quality of the CC container pool by reducing the risk of counterfeit containers working their way into the pool. Confidex developed the electronic RFID “e-seal” which securely authenticates the origin of the CC Container. The anti-tampering feature was achieved without compromising the small tag size and the read performance requirements of logistics operations.

To be effective, such a high quantity of tags also had to be easy to attach, without additional tools, in any conditions. The tag also needed to withstand harsh use outdoors. The e-seals are identified and verified with RFID handheld devices, supplied by NordicID and others.

Since the CC Container is also used as a retail display unit, flowers and plants can be transported directly from the grower to the consumer in the store. By eliminating the need for product handling in between, goods are less likely to get damaged and overall distribution costs are reduced.

“We’ve developed a unique total solution system for an incredibly demanding security RFID application,” says Jarkko Miettinen, vice president of new business development at Confidex.

Similar asset tracking systems are rapidly gaining acceptance in the healthcare and hospital environment, as are RFID-powered systems that track the hygiene habits of hospital personnel. So while hospitals benefit from operational gains, patients see distinct advantages as well.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that hospital acquired infections cause almost 100,000 deaths a year in the U.S. That’s why improving hand hygiene habits is so crucial. Birmingham, Ala.-based Princeton Baptist Medical Center recently registered a 22 percent reduction in healthcare associated infections by implementing Proventix’s nGage™ RFID based hand hygiene monitoring system.

The nGage system monitors hand hygiene compliance 24 hours a day, 7 days week. Healthcare workers wear badges that are uniquely recognized by control units at soap dispensers throughout the hospital. When a worker enters a room or area where there is a control unit, they are recognized and, upon the completion of a quality hand hygiene event, they are given important, patient-specific information (such as “the patient is at risk for a fall”), general employee information, or employee-specific information. The messaging creates incentives for healthcare workers at the point of care, improves workflow and creates opportunities for efficiencies while enhancing patient safety and quality of care.

“The information gathered in these case studies will help the industry understand how valuable health IT as a tool can be to improving patient safety and quality,” said David A. Collins, the director of healthcare information systems at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. “By sharing notable quality improvement outcomes, we hope these innovative examples will serve as guidance to others for improved healthcare delivery and demonstrate the benefits of health IT adoption.”

VDC study: RFID growth will start to shift to new accounts in 2011 and beyond

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

It’s no surprise that more than three-quarters of total global RFID revenues in 2009/2010 came from established accounts that have been evaluating or piloting RFID technology for at least 18 months. However, as RFID continues to expand, it looks like a shift in those consumption habits will start to occur late in 2011 and into 2012.

According to Drew Nathanson, Director of Research Operations at VDC Research, the shift in consumption to newer users of the technology will be a function of favorable pricing, increased packaging of solutions and availability of off-the-shelf solutions, more benchmark and performance metrics, enhanced standards, and improved business models.

That’s just one of the predictions made by VDC analysts for trends expected to shape the RFID and auto-ID industry in 2011. This has been a banner year for the AIDC market, with many RFID suppliers experiencing double-digit growth. Nathanson expects more of the same in 2011.

Here’s a look at the other VDC predictions. Be sure to comment below and let us know what you think!

Adoption of Item-Level Tracking in Retail Continues to Surge

VDC expects item-level tracking applications in retail to continue to expand rapidly in 2011, as the solution is adopted in new accounts, scaled and expanded in existing accounts and embraced globally. Growth will also be further driven as RFID continues to migrate toward the point of manufacture. Click here to read more about item level tagging at the retail level.

Asset Tracking Applications Go Beyond Location

Asset tracking solutions will continue to expand beyond just providing the location of an asset. They will increasingly be leveraged to provide more information about the asset—its environment, movements and users—as a means to support and enhance business processes, increase asset utilization, support compliance and minimize costs. Click here to read more about RFID and asset tracking.

Authentication and Anti-Counterfeiting Emerge as Leading Applications

Product authentication and anti-counterfeiting applications are anticipated to grow quickly and expand into a broad range of verticals over the next 3-5 years as companies look to create a more secure supply chain. These applications are expected to extend the functionality of existing systems beyond track and trace to protect brands, further improving ROI. Click here to read about RFID 24-7′s coverage of authentication and anti-counterfeiting.

Solution Convergence Will Provide Key Benefits

Although there may be overlap in functionality and capabilities, the convergence of RFID, barcode and other AIDC solutions will provide the end-user more actionable business intelligence with little disruption to existing solutions and processes. The combination of these technologies will be particularly beneficial for applications and environments, such as supply chain and inventory management.

Michelin rolls out RFID-enabled tires for commercial fleets; U.S. may pass tire mandate

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Should there ever be another tire recall incident similar to 2001 when 13 million Firestone tires on Ford Explorers were recalled, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the U.S. government act swiftly to pass legislation mandating the use of RFID to track and trace tires.

In fact, some industry insiders expect that the government may issue a mandate requiring RFID tags on the tires of all passenger vehicles regardless. After all, why wait for another massive recall? When the Ford/Firestone incident occurred, Congress seriously considered track and trace programs for tires. However, the attention of lawmakers was diverted from the topic following the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq.

“We were very close to [legislation] after the Ford incident but then Congress went to war,” Dr. Pat King, Michelin’s leader for electronic strategies, said at this week’s AIM Expo in Chicago. “If it weren’t for the Iraq [conflict] we’d probably have tags in tires on passenger cars today.”

King estimates that at today’s costs, RFID tags in production for tires would cost about 30 to 40 cents apiece, meaning that consumers would pay about $1 extra for each RFID-enabled tire. RFID tags in tires would allow consumers to track mileage and maintenance records, and also provide beneficial safety information on tread wear, tire pressure and warranties.

Currently, Michelin is moving quickly into RFID-enabled truck tires, especially in China and other foreign countries. RFID can help to manage the re-tread process, for example, and assure that fleet owners get the re-treads from their own fleet, not from other tires that that may not have been maintained.

“We don’t know that passenger tires will ever have RFID in them” short of a government mandate, says King. “B2B is where it’s at.”

Would you be willing to pay an extra buck a tire to gain the above benefits? Leave a comment and let us know.

Police in Nottingham trial RFID to track hundreds of Tasers

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

For anyone that missed last week’s issue of RFID 24-7, here is our lead story.

Police forces in the UK are unique in that they are among the few in the world that do not regularly carry firearms. However, police officers now carry Tasers, and law enforcement agencies in the UK are using RFID technology to trace and track the weapons. Since legislation passed allowing police forces to carry Tasers at the beginning of this year, their use has skyrocketed. Therefore, the need for a technology solution to track and maintain them was critical.

RFID is being piloted at about 20 police stations in Nottingham, with wider usage anticipated by the end of the year. Each police department in Nottingham has deployed between 8 and 36 Tasers, depending on staff size, meaning that several hundred are being tagged in the pilot, which utilizes passive RFID tags that measure only 7.9 millimeters in diameter.

According to published reports, UK defense officials recently approved the eventual distribution of more than 10,000 Tasers to be used in England and Wales. Depending on the trial results, each weapon could eventually carry an RFID tag. The use of RFID to track firearms is not new. The Department of Defense has been utilizing RFID to track weapons for years, and ODIN technology announced a pilot at the University of Wisconsin earlier this year. The technology has been slower to catch on with individual police departments in the U.S., since states in the U.S. each have their own regulations to follow.

“It’s a very interesting application,” says Maria Kaganov, director of marketing for TAGSYS, which is supplying the tags and readers for the solution while working with system integrator RFIP of the UK. “Overall we’ve seen a lot of requests for weapons tracking solutions. This I our first foray into it, but the solution is working very well.” The TAGSYS and RFIP system is dubbed the Intelligent Drawer Armory System (iDAS), and utilizes embedded RFID technology to automatically record the issue and return of weapons to a secure storage locker. The solution not only automates inefficient manual weapons issuing processes, but also provides a complete service history for each weapon, generates audit reports for supervisors, prevents issue of weapons to un-authorized officers and improves weapon security. When a weapon is returned that is not in working order, the locker automatically prevents the weapon from being checked out again until a supervisor has cleared the issue.

In the current installation, the police department is keeping track of its Tasers using RFID-equipped storage cabinets. Each Taser is tagged with a high frequency TAGSYS Ario 370-SDM (Small Disc Module) RFID tag, and monitored using TAGSYS Medio P032 OEM RFID readers and antennas mounted in the cabinet.

“The TAGSYS Ario tags are very small, making them easy to apply to the Tasers without interference with the functionality of the weapon, but they also provide a reliable read range,” says David Armstrong, director at RFIP Ltd. “The tags are very rugged, which is important given the environments these weapons are typically used in.”

When an officer needs a Taser, he presents his identification card to a card reader on the cabinet. At this stage, the system establishes if the officer is authorized to carry a weapon. Upon authorization, a touch screen attached to the system guides the officer through a series of legal and procedural notices and the Taser is then electronically signed for before the system signals one of the drawers to open. The authenticated officer then removes the Taser, and the weapon is automatically allocated to him within the asset management application from JML Software Solutions Ltd., a UK-based company that specializes in asset tracking solutions for law enforcement.

The solution has provided the department with a complete pedigree for each weapon, allowing supervisors to track which officers have used which units. This provides the department with a robust audit trail for any investigation regarding the use of a Taser, or the relevant officer’s training record.

“In the beginning of the year when officers were allowed to begin carrying Tasers, they had an issue regarding process changes and wanted to simplify the tracking and tracing system,” says Kaganov. “This solution allows them to track and trace who has which Taser and at which point, but also how often the Taser has been used, so they can rotate the usage of the weapon. It also allows them to do maintenance on weapons that are malfunctioning.”

Free RFID trial intended to jump-start RFID in medical device sector

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Medical device companies have no excuse not to at least trial RFID technology. Raftar, a provider of RFID and mobile application based logistics and distribution solutions, today announced a “risk-free” way for medical device companies to prove that RFID can streamline sales and distribution operations for their business.

During the limited time offer, Raftar will deliver a full bundle of RFID  services – including its RFID-based warehouse and mobile, field service automation software — and will manage the entire 90-day pilot process from implementation and training through to successful completion. The RFID solution provided by Raftar will utilize Impinj high performance Monza® tags and Speedway® readers.

The “risk-free RFID” pilot will enable qualified companies to deploy an RFID-based case scheduling and inventory management and tracking solution that extends from a selected warehouse location to the point of consumption at the hospital in the field, with no up-front investment.

After the 90-day pilot, participating companies will have the option to discontinue the program with no obligation or deploy a fully functional production system, supported by a robust business case and real-world performance benchmarks.

“The driver here is to remove the uncertainty surrounding RFID in the medical devices industry,” said Ismail Nalwala, Raftar’s President and CEO. “Strong evidence exists globally that our technology can create dramatic operational efficiencies by slashing order processing times from 30 minutes to seconds and to help sales and customer service reps drive better service results for hospital and surgeons. The financial benefits continue through to inventory reduction and extend to better quality through order accuracy and item-level visibility. With the ‘Risk-Free RFID’ Pilot program, Raftar hopes to remove the uncertainty and enable companies to get practical experience with our solution and RFID and formulate a go-forward strategy.”

“We are excited that Raftar is exposing more medical device companies to the benefits of the latest RFID technology. In 2010, we’ve seen a surge in the use of UHF RFID technology and rapid growth in the variety of RFID enabled devices,” said Kerry Krause, vice president of marketing for Impinj. “Raftar’s software solutions and medical device industry domain expertise combined with Impinj’s hardware offerings, provide an optimal solution for accurate item-level counting of loaner kit items, including metal implants and instruments.”

UK police turn to RFID to track Tasers

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

More law enforcement groups are turning to RFID technology to track assets like hand guns and Tasers. The latest pilot project is in the UK , where a British police department is securing and tracking weapons with a solution from TAGSYS and systems integrator RFIP, Ltd. The two firms announced they have developed a new and innovative RFID-based weapons tracking solution to secure armaments for military, law enforcement and other agencies.

Called the Intelligent Drawer Armory System (iDAS), the solution utilizes embedded RFID technology to automatically record the issue and return of weapons to a secure storage locker. The solution not only automates inefficient manual weapons issuing processes, but also provides a complete service history for each weapon, generates audit reports for supervisors, prevents issue of weapons to un-authorized officers and improves weapon security.

In the current installations, the police department is keeping track of its Tasers using RFID-equipped storage cabinets. Each Taser is tagged with a high frequency TAGSYS Ario 370-SDM (Small Disc Module) RFID tag, and monitored using TAGSYS Medio P032 OEM RFID readers and antennas mounted in the cabinet.

“The TAGSYS Ario tags are very small, making them easy to apply to the Tasers without interference with the functionality of the weapon, but they also provide a reliable read range,” said David Armstrong, director at RFIP Ltd. “The tags are very rugged, which is important given the environments these weapons are typically used in.”

Previously, Tasers were issued by armories at the larger police stations in the UK. However, the devices are now being deployed at smaller precinct locations. As a result, local police stations need a compact and secure method of storing and issuing Tasers that is also cost effective.

Click here to read the full release.

RFID saves the oil and gas industry millions

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Motorola and Field Technologies Online hosted an informative webinar on the use of RFID in oil and gas applications this week. The webinar speakers say that the increased visibility provided by RFID in extremely difficult working conditions can save the oil and gas industry tens of millions annually.

“Because I can see this information very quickly, it provides me visibility to where my assets are and visibility gives you a lot of great positive business benefits,” says John Rommel, senior manager of RFID channel development at Motorola. “RFID lets you know where your people are,  where your consumable materials are,  where your valuable assets are, what is inside containers and what has been inspected and not inspected. If you need a piece of drill pipe and it’s not on the rig and you need to shut down the rig until you get it, we all know the consequences of that.”

Konrad Konarski, co-founder of the RFID Oil & Gas Solution Group Consortium and president of Merlin Concepts & Technology, says that RFID is saving the oil and gas industry tens of millions annually. He points out that applications at the well site are the sweet spot, with RFID contributing toward $80 million in savings annually.

At the well site, for example, RFID allows workers to lower or remove pipes from a well and to associate them to that particular well. RFID documents how long a pipe has been in place in the well, how deep it was placed in the well, which then allows you to track inspection data and drill strength, and how much wear and tear that pipe has been exposed to.

“This type of technology, although not as prevalent as it should be, is growing within the sector and is bringing the industry into the next generation of identification,” says Konrad.

Another $80 million is being saved at laydown yards, huge storage areas for piping that needs to be carefully identified for various jobs. Throw in anther $50 million in savings for service centers, and the total annual savings could reach $210 million.

“Once a part is commissioned, it goes  to laydown yard – essentially stack of pipes sitting around,” says Konarski. “By looking at these pipes, you may not be able to identify one from another, but they are completely different and designed for different environments.”