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. 

UHF is the Magic Pill for RFID in Healthcare

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Jan 03, 2012 @ 02:19 PM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Embedded RFID, Pharmaceutical Tracking, Inventory Management, Patient Tracking, Process Control, Wristband Tags, Wander Prevention, Temperature Monitoring, Announcements

Wireless HospitalAs we look to 2012, our first major event is HIMSS and we can’t wait. The healthcare market has been at the forefront of RFID adoption, discovering a plethora of ways in which the technology can streamline operations, reduce human error and make the patient experience exponentially better.

This year HIMSS (February 20-24, Venetian Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas) will host the Intelligent Hospital Pavilion in which it will showcase a variety of technologies that work together to deliver real-time patient information to the mobile devices and tablets of physicians and hospital staff (Visit ThingMagic in KIOSK #16). Scenarios from the OR, ICU and ED and will demonstrate how information is coordinated from diverse patient care environments with Near Field Communications (NFC), RFID, RTLS (real time locating systems), sensors and wireless technologies.

RFID has proven its worth in healthcare and continues to improve procedures and enhance environments from tracking expiration dates on medication, to personalizing the experience for cancer patients, to managing inventory of critical dose medication, to helping surgeons locate tumors.

According to a Frost & Sullivan report, RFID: Unlocking Opportunities in the Healthcare Vertical from July 2011, “The RFID market is expected to witness a significant increase in revenues by 2017, due to its acceptability, capability, and credibility. It has taken an affirmative position in the healthcare sector owing to substantial cost savings and convenience.”

RFID’s Success in Healthcare Can Be Attributed to Passive UHF RFID

Barcodes have long been used in the hospital supply chain for tracking products, supplies and inventory control. By using barcodes on forms, wrist bands and records, healthcare providers have driven efficiencies into the patient registration process.

Passive UHF RFID can enhance or replace many supply chain management, patient registration, patient safety, clinical care, and billing workflows that currently use barcodes. While both barcodes and RFID can be used for these activities, Passive UHF RFID is more effective due to the additional automation and cost saving opportunities it delivers.  Simply put, Passive UHF RFID enables the rapid and precise measurement of almost every operation in the healthcare setting - from counting and verifying the number of items in each surgical tray to analyzing the slightest body movement.

Passive UHF RFID allows tags to be read from far away so that readers can be deployed in a variety of ways including permanent installations wired to the existing hospital Ethernet network, within strategically located “portals,” and integrated into mobile and stationary devices like carts and cabinets. This flexibility is complemented by the wide variety of Passive RFID tags that can be affixed to or integrated into consumable inventory, handheld surgical tools, patient wristbands, photo ID badges, and many other items.

Put simply, Passive RFID is the most economical way to measure a large number of parameters in healthcare setting, enabling innovative patient-centric applications that would otherwise not be implemented

Proven Uses of Passive UHF RFID Solutions Include:

Departmental Loss Prevention – proven to deliver an ROI in a short period of time by saving high value assets from being mistakenly discarded.

Asset Tracking – identifies the location and travel patterns of many types of valuable assets in real-time, resulting in reduced product loss, reduced capital equipment purchases & leases, and enhanced patient services.

Patient/Staff Tracking – tracks the travel patterns of staff, patients and personnel in real-time for access control, improved patient & staff workflows, reduced wait times, and integration into anti-abduction, wander prevention, and hand hygiene solutions.

We’re sure to see these and other uses in action at the Intelligent Hospital Pavilion at HIMSS. For more examples of ThingMagic in Healthcare, please download the following case studies:

Disney Family Cancer Center Case Study: The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center Implements Innovative RFID Solution to Enhance Patient Experience and Increase Efficiency

Hopefully what happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas!

Automated Video Stores

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Oct 27, 2010 @ 12:42 PM

Tags: RFID, Sports & Entertainment, Process Control, Asset Management

A New Way to Rent Movies – Powered by RFID

MovieQThe way we purchase, rent and watch movies has evolved significantly since Louis Le Prince created and experimental film titled Roundhay Garden Scene on October 14, 1888 – now known as the earliest surviving motion picture.  Personally, I remember the days of having no option other than going to the theater to watch a movie.  It was a fun family event and as I got older, movie night included a half an hour at the arcade across the street playing Tempest before show time.

Then in 1975, Sony brought movies into the home with the introduction of the Betamax. The first Sony LV-1901 Betamax console consisted of a VCR and a 19" TV and retailed for a whopping $2,495!  Expanding our access to movies, in November of 1977 Magnetic Video became the first company to sell motion pictures on home video.  To launch their business, Magnetic Video licensed 50 titles from Twentieth Century-Fox and sold them for $49.95 each under the terms of a club membership.  Taking the market further, George Atkinson launched the first video rental store in Los Angeles in December 1977.  Atkinson charged $50 for an annual membership and $100 for a lifetime membership, providing access to video rentals for $10 a day.  Atkinson grew his business to 42 stores in less than 20 months, running his company, later know as The Video Station, until 1983 when it had nearly 500 stores.

With continued advances in movie production and distribution, we now have the choice of purchasing high-quality DVDs and several ultra-convenient self-service options like on-demand cable rentals and Netflix integrated into my kid’s Nintendo Wii.  We can also still go to brick and mortar retail stores like long time market leader Blockbuster and relative newcomer MovieQ.

MovieQ, an automated movie and game rental chain, has taken a unique approach to operating its stores.  Typically manned by a single employee to sell munchies, MovieQ stores use state-of-the-art RFID-enabled robotic systems to automate DVD dispensing.  In addition to providing automated access to a large selection of movies and games, customers can use a credit card or preloaded MovieQ cash cards at in-store customer interaction centers (CICs) to purchase rental merchandise. 

With over 10,000s items available, MovieQ stores offer compelling advantages over other types of brick and mortar stores.  This model – automated with RFID – allows MovieQ to operate in a small footprint which translates to low real estate costs.  They also save on staffing costs and have reduced product loss and theft – allowing them to pass savings and value to the customer.

An interesting case study on MovieQ has been published by UPM Raflatac - the provider of high-frequency RFID tags MovieQ uses in their solution.  Check them out and let us know how you think RFID can automate other high-volume retail operations. 

RFID and Mud Motors

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 @ 03:22 PM

Tags: RFID, Process Control, Disaster Management

A Natural Fit for Natural Resource Exploration

Downhole DrillingWith the recent Deepwater Horizon drilling rig disaster that killed 11 workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, many of us know more about oil exploration than we did before.  Those of us who followed news reports of the rig explosion, spill and clean up quickly became familiar with blowout preventers, shear rams, cement plugs, and the combination of mechanical failures and human errors that resulted in the tragedy.

Over the years, many different technologies, techniques and innovations have been used when drilling for gas or oil reserves.  One such innovation, known as downhold drilling, was introduced in the 1970’s.  With downhole drilling motors (aka mud motors), the drill bit can be rotated on the bottom of the hole while most of the drill pipe is held stationary as opposed to having the entire drill string rotating at all times.  Among other advantages, various measurement tools can be added to the stationary drill string to help determine if any corrections or adjustments may need to be made – in real time.  The data generated from these measurements is also used to maintain engineering and legal records describing the path of the well bore.

By utilizing RFID technology, Marathon Oil Company of Houston, TX has taken downhole drilling to the next level - allowing for completely new processes to occur.  Instead of activating the downhole equipment with traditional uses of mechanical systems, hydraulic pressure and fluid pulses, a downhole tool is configured with an RFID reader and the tool is activated when RFID tags are read along the length of drill pipe.

According to an article in Drilling Contractor, Marathon Oil has recognized notable benefits from the use of RFID.  With initial goals of reducing costs and rig time, Marathon Oil has also estimated that by implementing such an RFID-powered system, a major oil and gas operator could save at least $17 million in annual costs.  While cost savings are a great achievement, Marathon Oil also pointed out that this solution could result in improvements to operational safety.

With operational safety on everyone’s mind after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the use of RFID for downhole drilling and many other aspects of natural resource exploration seem like a natural fit to us. 

What do you think?  Let us know your thoughts on how RFID could be used for large-scale operational improvements and worksite safety.

[Image credit: Sandia National Laboratories]

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