Best Time to Invest in RFID is Now, Says #1 Swiss Clothing Retailer

April 30, 2009

The Charles Vögele Group, Switzerland’s largest clothing retailer, boasts 7,800 employees and reported annual earnings of 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.3 billion). Naturally, the company’s supply chain is rather complex, with products manufactured in Asia and passing through several distribution centers before arriving at one of Vögele’s 851 retail stores throughout Europe. The company had several goals to help it increase efficiencies:

  • Gain greater visibility of products throughout the supply chain.
  • Learn where products were delayed or misrouted
  • Improve customer service by reducing stock-outs in stores

To achieve these goals, Vögele incorporated passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and interrogator antennas into its inventory, as well as software to collect and interpret data provided by the technology. Today, instead of waiting to learn about an item’s location from a warehouse manager, interrogators automatically transmit data to the backend system. Thomas Beckmann, the company’s head of supply chain, calls this “a revolution in the supply chain.”

Meanwhile, at Vögele’s stores in Slovenia (the only stores thus far with the system in place), RFID readers have been installed on shelves and fitting rooms to track which items are available in the store front, and to monitor how many items customers try on versus how many they purchase.

The RFID system was fully deployed in 2008 after two years of development and piloting. Since then, Vögele has seen a 50% reduction in inventory-related labor. It has also gained insight into the weak areas of the supply chain. The company’s conclusion: There may be no better time to invest in RFID than in the current downturn. Find the full article here.

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Can Technology Save the Economy?

April 29, 2009

If you are still using manual systems for asset tracking, inventory control, or picking, mistakes are piling up and profits are disappearing.

Attend our FREE Seminar to learn how to reduce errors, wasted man hours, and lost inventory.

This seminar will show how RFID, Voice, and Barcode technologies:

  • Save 25-40% in wasted labor costs.
  • Increase accuracy to 99.9%.
  • Reduce returns from errors by 50%.
  • Decrease mispicks by 25% or more.
  • Boost productivity by 15% or more

Seminar highlights include:

  • TECH UPDATE: Learn about the advancements, differences, and benefits of these technologies
  • FREE ROI CALCULATOR
  • LIVE INTERACTIVE TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATIONS
  • PRODUCT SHOWCASE
  • ACCESS TO LEADING INDUSTRY EXPERTS: Tom O’Boyle, a leading expert with over 23 years of experience in technology deployment and speaker at national conferences like WERC and APICS, will discuss RFID in work in process.
  • CASE STUDIES: How a Truck Manufacturing Facility lowered their lead times by 14%, increased their inventory velocity by 19%, and reduced their labor reporting errors by 23%!

Date: Wednesday, June 10th

Time: 10 am to Noon

Location: Miles Technology Integration Center
1425 Jeffrey Drive
Addison, IL 60101

Contact: 1-800-783-2132

Interested in attending this FREE Seminar?

Call us or reserve your space online.

Register for the event


Tom O’Boyle to Present at Werc conference

April 21, 2009

On April 27, 2009, Tom O’Boyle will be speaking at the upcoming WERC conference about the importance of RFID technology. O’Boyle will draw from his experience to share stories that illustrate why RFID is an essential tool to increase visibility into product flow, velocity, and control of goods and containers. People attending this event will learn the deciding factors on when to choose RFID over other automation technologies to increase productivity, save money, and increase customer satisfaction.

Tom’s presentation will take place between 10:00 – 11:15 am.

ABOUT WERC:

WERC is the only professional organization focused on warehouse management and its role in the supply chain.
Through membership in WERC, seasoned practitioners and those new to the industry stay at the forefront of innovation, master best practices and establish valuable professional relationships.
WERC offers resources that help distribution professionals stay at the leading edge including educational events, performance metrics for benchmarking, practical research, expert insights and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.

For more information about the upcoming presentation and about WERC, please visit their website.


For Small-to-Medium Sized Warehouses, Slap-and-Ship May Be RFID Solution

April 21, 2009

For many small-to-medium sized warehouses and distribution centers, deploying a full-scale RFID system is too expensive and lengthy a process to be feasible, even if the technology is intriguing. And other suppliers, because of mandates set forth by the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart, have no choice but to implement RFID, regardless of their warehouses’ sizes. The solution for such suppliers could be what’s commonly referred to as “slap-and-ship.”

Slap-and-ship applications involve placing an RFID tag or smart label on items, cases, or pallets before shipping them to the customer. Unlike traditional RFID systems, slap-and-ship solutions require no large capital expenditure or software integration with existing warehouse management systems. Instead, the entire process consists of encoding tags with data and then applying those tags to the items, cases, or pallets. The only pieces of equipment needed are RFID printers, RFID smart labels, and-optionally-RFID readers.

RFID printers, such as those in Zebra’s Gen 2 UHF printer line, are the most common method for encoding data on the RFID smart labels. The printers automatically test the tags and write the data prior to printing. Workers can also use an RFID reader to encode the labels once they are affixed to cases or pallets, but this generally takes more time and power. Then, after being encoded, tags can be attached to cases and pallets either manually or automatically, with an automatic tag applicator.

As a small-to-medium sized warehouse or distribution center, how does this solution appeal to you?


Make the Most of your RFID Investment with an RFID Printer

April 21, 2009

If your warehouse or distribution center is among the thousands that have made an investment in RFID-or are considering doing so-one way to stretch that investment is with an RFID printer, such as Zebra’s Gen 2 UHF printer line.

Ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID printers are ideal for companies in need of an affordable way to streamline their processes. Benefits of UHF printers include their ability to write data as well as query and calibrate RFID labels’ unique IDs; or, in laymen’s terms, they can print identifying data onto smart labels that already contain RFID tags. Smart labels are more affordable than RFID tags and can also be printed with text and barcode data.

Using RFID printers and smart labels holds several advantages:

  • Smart labels are the easiest, most affordable way to comply with certain RFID mandates-say, those by Wal-Mart or the Department of Defense
  • Few or no employees are required to read data from the smart label; instead, the data is read automatically when in proximity to a fixed or portable RFID reader
  • RFID printers digitally encode error-free data into the smart label, which can be wirelessly transmitted to RFID readers in even the harshest of environments. The smart labels are also readable to humans, in the event that an RFID reader is unavailable.

In addition, those who are currently using barcode printers will find the switch to RFID printers and smart labels virtually seamless.


Keep Workers Safe by Using Gen 2 RFID Technology

April 16, 2009

Deploying RFID technology to track workers in dangerous environments is nothing new. However, traditional battery-powered RFID tags can cost upwards of $100 per piece-a price point that has limited deployment to only the highest-risk environments. Now, with the lower-cost standardized Gen 2 technology, it has become feasible for warehouses and distribution centers-as well as hospitals, prisons, schools, and more-to keep their most valuable assets safe.

Gen 2 readers can be installed indoors or outdoors and used in many ways to, for example, monitor the amount of time workers spend in a particular environment. In such a situation, readers can be installed in doorways or sub-areas of a location and be set to automatically record all entries and exits. Meanwhile, system software would track the amount of time each worker spends in a specific area and automatically send alerts via e-mail, pager, or alarm as workers near their time limit.

In a non-hazardous warehouse or distribution center, managers can use Gen 2 technology to maintain accurate, real-time records about where workers are at any given time. Additionally, the system can be programmed to send an e-mail alert if workers are in an area or zone beyond their qualification-such as one where potentially dangerous machinery is used.

What systems do you currently have in place to ensure employees’ safety?


MIT Research Lab the Latest to Deploy RFID for File Management

April 16, 2009

As was recently the case with the Florida State Attorney’s Office, the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had no real system in place to keep track of its files. Instead, personnel files and project and funding proposal applications were stored in separate offices, with employees pulling needed files and returning them later, with no log record kept in between. Krista Van Guilder, the RLE’s manager of media and design, told the RFID Journal that files were occasionally lost and often very difficult to find. Enter RFID.

The process works as follows: First, all files were moved to shelving in one central office. Then RFID tags were attached to the inside of each file folder. Staff members needing a file go to that central office, pull the file from its place, and wave the folder past the RFID reader attached to a wall-mounted touch-screen computer nearby. The reader logs the tag’s unique ID number while the computer pulls up an employee roster on the computer. The employee touches his or her name, and the file is officially checked out. To return the file, the employee follows the same process.

If another employee needs the file while it is still checked out, he or she can consult the custom, Web-based software developed by Barcoding, Inc., look up the file or employee name associated with it, and determine the file’s location. In situations where the person who checked out the file can no longer find it, a Motorola MC9090-G handheld RFID reader can be used to scan the room or area for the file’s unique ID number. The reader beeps when it reads the number, and while it can’t yet pinpoint the exact location, it will narrow down a search area to a particular desk or shelf area.

If your current file management system is not as effective as it could be, would you consider using RFID to improve it?