Collaboration with Datamars for a More Intelligent Laundry Operation

Posted by Austin Rand on Mon, Jul 07, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: RFID, Apparel, Process Control, Laundry Management, Laundry

Datamars is a pioneer of RFID in the textile industry with more than 1000 textile customers in 40 countries and more than 150 million RFID tags in use worldwide. To read this enormous number of tags, they’ve turned to ThingMagic UHF readers (Astra and Mercury6) for bulk-scanning.  With a reader accuracy over 99% the ThingMagic readers have helped the company achieve record growth in the past year. 

This year, Datamars has seen 100% of its new industrial laundry projects involve UHF technology, a clear indication that RFID has moved from being a luxury in the textile space to becoming a standard for advanced operations. Because of the low cost of entry associated with UHF RFID, the pairing of Datamars tags with ThingMagic readers has become a primary choice both for customers just adopting RFID for the first time, as well as for existing RFID users looking for a combination of LF-UHF or HF-UHF to ease the transition to this next generation of solutions.

In a service industry, the success of an industrial laundry operation hinges not only on maximizing the productivity of a supply chain, but ensuring reliable operations for the customer. With read ranges of up to 6 meters (19 feet) without requiring a direct line of sight, the coupling of Datamars tags with ThingMagic readers ensures bulk-scanning accuracy and scanning speed (1000 items in under 10 seconds) that help set an advanced operation apart from its competition.

The numbers from a deployment for Disney can better tell the story of what’s possible with ThingMagic RFID in a large-scale garment tracking solution:

  • Disney used UHF RFID to track $100 million worth of costumes.
  • The solution has saved the company more than a million dollars.
  • Inventory counting times have been reduced from approximately 180 labor hours (within larger costume storage areas) to about two hours.
  • The system increased the accuracy of inventory checks, from 85-90% accurate to nearly 100%.
  • The need to staff checkout counters has been eliminated, freeing up personnel for other tasks.

Core to ThingMagic’s readers – Astra and Mercury 6 – is predictability and ease-of-use. Deploying an UHF RFID solution, in many more industries beyond textile and industrial laundry, should not require a  disruptive installation of RFID hardware and software. As such, ThingMagic readers are developed to integrate easily with existing operations so enterprises can shorten the time to realize business results – the ultimate promise of an RFID solution. Beyond ensuring the reliability that helps an operation survive, more connectivity sets an enterprise up not only to have more visibility into operations, but also to more easily transition to next-generation technology. 

RFID Garment Tracking at Disney

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, May 07, 2012 @ 10:09 AM

Tags: Garment Tracking, RFID, Inventory Management, RFID Kiosk, Laundry Management

I could write a flowery post about this deployment of ThingMagic RFID readers, but I think it would be more compelling if I just stick to the facts.  If you have a large inventory of garments that you need to track, take a look at the following ROI case and then contact us to discuss how RFID can help save you time and money.

  • Disney is using UHF RFID to track $100 million worth of costumes.
  • The solution has saved the company more than a million dollars.
  • Inventory counting times have been reduced from approximately 180 labor hours (within larger costume storage areas) to about two hours.
  • The system has increased the accuracy of inventory checks, from 85 to 90 percent accurate to nearly 100 percent.
  • The need to staff checkout counters has been eliminated, freeing up personnel for other tasks.

This is how it works. A Disney cast member walks through rows of costumes at one of the 25 storage areas. She selects her costume garments and proceeds to a kiosk with an integrated ThingMagic RFID reader. The cast member swipes her ID badge through a bar-code reader at the kiosk, where her face and name are displayed on a video screen. The RFID reader captures the garments’ tag IDs and feeds that information to the Disney garment management software. Voila. Cinderella is off to greet her fans without a moment’s delay.

When the cast member is done for the day, she puts her costume into a laundry chute where another ThingMagic RFID reader captures the tag IDs. The status of the garments is updated, noting when they enter and exit the laundry area. This same process works with uniforms for band members, wait staff, and… well, you get the picture.

Disney Soution

Disney also uses RFID-enabled inventory cycle count carts to expedite inventory counts in their costume storage areas.  What previously involved 15 to 20 employees manually scanning barcodes for nine to twelve hours can now be completed by one or two workers in about one hour.

The solution paid for itself in less than a year.

(Image source: RFID Journal RFID Helps Disney Employees Get Into Character)

Business at the Speed of RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 @ 02:42 PM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Retail, RFID Journal LIVE, Laundry Management

RJL AwardsYou could fill in the blank with any number of words. Business benefit from the Speed of RFID,  ...from the Accuracy of RFID, ...from the Efficiency of RFID, ...from the Personalization of RFID, ...from the Profitability of RFID …you get the picture.

All you have to do is check out the list of industries represented at this year's RFID Journal LIVE! conference. It is a pretty broad list, illustrating the value and reach of the technology: Defense/Aerospace; Health Care/Pharmaceutical; Manufacturing/Operational Efficiency and Retail/Apparel.

Among the companies within these industries are several that are working with ThingMagic to bring innovative solutions to market, improve productivity, and gain a competitive advantage. We are proud to be working with many award winners and presenters at RFID Journal LIVE! 2012 and years past.  Check 'em out here:

Keonn - Winner of "Coolest Demo" Award at RFID Journal LIVE! 2012

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. - Presenter - Improving Supply Chain Logistics: Using RFID to Speed Up Inventory Management at Disney.  Check out the RFID Journal article on the solution here: RFID Helps Disney Employees Get Into Character

Seeonic - RFID Journal LIVE! 2012 Best in Show finalist

Gerry Weber International - RFID Journal LIVE! 2011 Best RFID Implementation Award

The Disney Family Cancer Center - RFID Journal LIVE! 2010 Most Innovative Use of RFID Award

The RFID Journal Awards recognize companies that have distinguished themselves by their successful use of RFID or introduction of a valuable new RFID product or services. A full list of award winners at RFID Journal LIVE! 2012 can be found here.  A full list of the Coolest Demo Contest participants are listed here.  We know who are favorites are!  How about you?

Laundry is Less of a Dirty Chore with RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 @ 10:09 AM

Tags: Garment Tracking, RFID, Hospitality, Laundry Management

RFID Laundry Management

If there is one thing we know about RFID, it’s that if there is one way to use it within a market or market segment, there are 100 ways. Using RFID to modernize or improve laundry management is no different.  RFID–enabled laundry applications are being used in hotels, casinos, government offices, hospitals, schools, professional sports, and basically any institution that deals in employee uniforms, garments and linens.  

The benefits of implementing an RFID-enabled laundry system range from streamlining processes to eliminating inventory errors, decreasing manual labor, and even reducing the spreading of disease. More advanced business objectives can include improved energy and water efficiency. All of these benefits have a direct, positive impact the bottom line, which is often the case with enabling a process with RFID.

However, it’s not just the use of RFID in general that improves laundry management. It’s very specific capabilities that have been designed into in RFID tags and readers, and the manner in which they operate with one another that make this use of RFID truly innovative.

The RFID tags used in laundry management need to be able to withstand water immersion, extreme heat, pressure and chemicals. On the flip side, RFID readers need to be able to read tags simultaneously for clothing or other items that may be stacked or in piles. As the technology has evolved, UHF RFID solutions are beginning to replace other RF and proprietary technologies in this space (we are also seeing the same thing in waste management, tolling, access control, and other markets and applications).  UHF has proved to be ideal for laundry management because, not only can it be used to identify and locate hundreds of items per second, but it also has the added benefit of reading items from greater distances.

For organizations that need to track their garment inventory in large batches, UHF technology allows them to eliminate the less efficient practice of single-piece barcode or proprietary tag scans. Further, they can eliminate or reduce the number of expensive, dedicated read stations which can lead to added time-saving and cost reduction benefits.

Now, take into consideration that many business don’t have a laundry facility on-site. In these cases, the laundry is shipped elsewhere to be cleaned and sorted, making the management piece a little more challenging. If the laundry is done off-site, the implementation of RFID portals and use of tag directionality features can play a big role. It can be used to tell if the items are leaving or arriving for better inventory precision. Points of loss can be identified so that any necessary corrections can be made to prevent similar situations in the future.

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Share your experiences or thoughts on the use of RFID for laundry management.  We’re eager to hear them!

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