How RFID Can Turn the Retail Supply Chain on its Head

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 04:46 PM

Tags: RFID, Retail, Supply Chain

stockroomIt’s no secret that technology is transforming the way we do business, but with some innovative thinking on the part of retailers, businesses are in store for a level of efficiency they’ve never seen before – in part, thanks to RFID.

These new efficiencies are coming in ways that, until now, have seemed counterintuitive. In a recent blog, Software Advice's Michael Koploy details how retailers are beginning to fill online orders with their in-store inventory – essentially turning their entire supply chain into one cooperative “warehouse.” This may seem like a nightmare to maintain, detrimental even, if you consider the possibility of more frequent stockouts, but in fact RFID has made this an incredibly viable option for the modern business world.

As retailers begin to incorporate RFID into their supply chains, tagging every piece of inventory and scanning items as they move from warehouse to distributor to retailer, suddenly enterprises are afforded a much higher level of visibility into the location of the various moving pieces of their business. Businesses are now able to treat their in-store inventory as an extension of their warehouse because RFID redefines what it means to track inventory – what was once a few teenagers counting boxes in the back room of a store with a clip board and pen is now a highly organized and incredibly accurate automated tracking system. It’s almost like having a crystal ball.

With an RFID system in place, retailers can have a more accurate picture of their inventory and feel comfortable knowing that they are moving their products in the right direction. Not only that, but using RFID to fill online orders from in-store inventory can actually lead to fewer stockouts, as the new level of visibility gives enterprises a better idea of which inventories are running low and when they need to be restocked. Additionally, businesses will see less of a need to implement markdown prices, as slow-moving inventory can be better distributed among the variety of retail outlets, and businesses will save on shipping and delivery costs since each retailer can now function as a distributer as well. 

It’s getting more and more difficult for businesses to ignore the benefits of RFID. What managers once thought could only serve enormous supply chains with equally-enormous budgets is now allowing retailers to modernize their entire business platform. RFID is redefining what it means to have visibility into business operations, and as the scope of RFID implementation continues to expand and simplify, it’s becoming far easier for retailers to increase profits by understanding their company at a more granular level. RFID very quickly begins to pay for itself, and it certainly makes life easier for everyone from enterprise managers to the guys in the back who can now focus on greeting customers instead of counting boxes.

Smart Medication Administration with RFID

Posted by Anna Zauner on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 10:20 AM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Tracking, Inventory Management

PharmaThe national discussion about our healthcare system remains a hot topic, including what can be done to reduce healthcare costs while increasing the quality of patient care. As part of this equation, hospitals are constantly struggling with the task of managing inventory and budgets in order to keep costs in line. We’ve introduced the prospect of using RFID to solve many challenges in the healthcare market including cost control, and honestly, the opportunities seem limitless. Check out some of our previous posts to learn more.

In addition to improving cost control, healthcare facilities around the world are continuously improving processes related to the five “rights” of medication administration – an extremely important element of patient care. The five “rights” include:

  • Right patient
  • Right drug
  • Right dose
  • Right route
  • Right time

ThingMagic partner, MEPS Real-Time is taking a lead in this area by offering the RFID enabled INTELLIGUARD Automated Dispensing Cabinet!

MEPS has partnered with ThingMagic and is using the M5e embedded UHF RFID module to manage high-value, critical-dose medication dispensing and delivery to patients. By design, INTELLIGUARD’s real-time item level visibility prevents drug expiration losses and reduces unnecessary inventory and costs.

A brief case study:

Sharp Memorial Hospital is San Diego’s largest emergency and trauma center. Sharp has 5,000 products in its formulary with around $2 million in inventory at any given time. At Sharp, like other hospitals, some drugs are infrequently prescribed, but Sharp can’t risk NOT having them in stock. Previous inventory process often resulted in significant loss due to expiration and the traditional dispensing cabinets that required manual counting and barcode scanning were prone to errors.

Solution:

INTELLIGUARD Automated Dispensing Cabinets from MEPS Real-Time were put in place at Sharp Memorial Hospital. These cabinets automatically read the contents of each drawer in real time, eliminating the need for manual scans and alerting the staff of upcoming expiration dates.

Over the course of an 8 month study, Sharp confidently reduced PAR levels while eliminating fear factor buying. In addition, no medications expired unused and there were no stock-outs.

The bottom line?  INTELLIGUARD Automated Dispensing Cabinets – powered by ThingMagic RFID - are a proven solution for helping pharmacists manage drug inventory while reducing costs, increasing employee efficiency, and maintaining the highest level of patient care.  Check out the video case study below to learn more!

MEPS Video

The Connection Between RFID and Social Networks Gets Deeper

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 @ 11:34 AM

Tags: RFID, Sports & Entertainment, Social Networks

Social MediaSocial networking channels have demonstrated again and again that they have very practical uses - both in the personal and business realms. It seems as though we pass some sort of milestone on a regular basis. Just when it seems like I’ve heard about all of the potential uses, there comes another one, quickly followed by another and another.

Our good friend and business partner, Patrick Sweeney provided another example recently about connecting the physical and online worlds, however the kinks still need to be ironed out. It’s a great idea to be able to share your Red Sox experience with your friends who aren’t in attendance, but at the 100th anniversary game, the check-in option and being able to upload photos to Facebook via smart phones weren’t working too well that day. Apparently there was a bandwidth bottleneck; too many people trying to do the same thing in the same place. Patrick asked us to imagine a more seamless experience. Excellent idea, though I’m thinking Yankee Stadium will have this type of innovative solution deployed long before Fenway figures it out, making the baseball experience in New York even better than it already is. Sorry Boston!

In another example, RFID Journal recently reported that LifeSynk Ltd. is launching an RFID solution that would link brick-and-mortar stores, consumer products and events to the online world via social media channels. By updating a Facebook status regarding a certain product, or checking in at a certain store, retailers can offer those individuals special promotions and discounts that are targeted to their preferences. For events, people can “like” a band or song on Facebook and receive a credit for those songs on iTunes, for example. LifeSynk reports that the benefit for retailers and event organizers is greater visibility via online social networks. We have seen similar implementations where the benefits go beyond increased visibility to being able to build and achieve brand loyalty, which translates into repeat sales. Now that’s success!

A very recent and impactful example of connecting the physical and online worlds made headlines when Facebook introduced a feature for people to register as organ donors and promote their choice on the profile pages. According to a BusinessWeek story, the same day the Facebook feature was publicized, 6,000 people had registered in 22 states. Normally, less than 400 people sign up in the 22 states combined.

Businesses can no longer ignore the power of social networks and the role that RFID can play. It’s about expanding reach and influence well beyond traditional boundaries. People are connecting on a more frequent and deeper level and RFID can play a very prominent role in turning those experiences into successes.  The Internet of Things just got bigger.

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