By Andrew Springer
It is an exciting time. You have just received a new RFID handheld computer (aka RFID reader) and RFID tags to perform your asset tracking tasks and can hardly wait to start playing with them. Maybe you are in a business space with office and IT equipment scattered among cubicles. Or, perhaps you are managing a tool crib or equipment storage facility. Either way, this endeavor you are about to undertake warrants careful consideration and experimentation. Some advice from ASAP Systems, experts in providing asset tracking systems, can help guide you from the get-go. So before you dive into the project head first, here are a few tips to help you utilize your RFID scanner to the best of its capabilities.
1. Proper RFID Scanner and Tag Positioning
In order to get the ultimate read-range when scanning a RFID tag with a RFID handheld computer, make sure the scanner is held at the same level or height as the tag and at a direct-facing angle. Attempting to “shoot” the scanner from odd angles, as well as below or above the tag, will greatly reduce the distance from which you can scan. The steeper the read angle, the worse the read range will be.
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To compete effectively in today’s business environment, you need to be more responsive, more nimble and more efficient. To protect ever-thinner profit margins, you need more data, more accurate intelligence and more streamlined processes in less time using less money. Your supply chain is more global and complex, so you need more real-time, error-free inventory and tracking processes to maintain accountability and productivity.
Enterprises from retail to healthcare/pharmaceuticals are turning to automated RFID systems to gather the business-critical asset and tracking data they need to improve processes, productivity, and profitability. As the need grows for faster, more reliable data collection in hectic business environments, so does the demand for higher performance RFID hardware. Motorola is meeting that demand with a new standard in business-class RFID performance – the Motorola FX7500 Fixed RFID Reader.
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Hospital administrators are finding that inexpensive and unobtrusive radio frequency identification tags are saving thousands of dollars while increasing quality of care and patient satisfaction.
At the brand-new, 58-bed Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance in Fort Worth, everything that moves is being tagged, including high-value assets, wristbands on patients and the badges of all staff members.
Over the last year, RFID has saved the Texas Health Alliance $65,000 per month just in rental fees, said Kathi Cox, a project coordinator at the hospital’s parent company Texas Health Resources.
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In today’s fast paced retail environment, to remain competitive and profitable it is important that retailers and brand owners have a high level of real time visibility of inventory throughout the supply chain and including the retail shelf itself. Accurately tracking products from the manufacturer and through the DC’s in combination with a good alignment with backroom replenishment processes are critical in addressing and improving operational concerns such as inventory related costs associated with cycle stock and safety stock levels.
To be successful in managing inbound and outbound operations as well as in stock and out of stock inventory, retailers must have a way to streamline their processes that will enable them to improve operations and efficiencies on all levels with the end result of increased sales and revenue. Major retailers are looking at multiple areas in their supply chain and at store levels that the integration of RFID into these operations could provide opportunities to make significant gains in speed and accuracy as well as multi-channel inventory management.
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It has been over 40 years since the first RFID device was patented. In its early stages, it was seen as unreliable and far too expensive to adopt over barcode technology. However, more recently companies are starting to adopt RFID technology due to its improvements in readability and cost effectiveness. With these enhancements, companies are seeing the benefits of RFID over barcodes. For example, organizations conducting inventory counts or accounting for high value assets using barcode technology must scan each barcode individually, which requires a considerable amount of time and resources. Whereas RFID readers allow for mass data capture. Additionally, RFID provides real-time, accurate data, which offers tremendous advantages in several industries.
One facet of RFID that has helped simplify the technology and lower the costs is RFID printing. Instead of investing in more costly RFID tags that are typically overkill, companies have found that RFID labels (“Smart Labels”), which are adhesive labels embedded with RFID inlays, are suitable for their requirements. Thus, organizations have the freedom to print their own RFID labels by investing in a RFID printer and RFID label software, both of which have the ability to print barcodes too.
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Intermec has announced the soon to be available integrated RFID capabilities for its CK70, CN70 and CN70e mobile computers. Part of Intermec’s industry-leading 70 Series family, these no-compromise devices now offer a fully-integrated UHF RFID reader with no external antenna – adding advanced RFID reading capabilities to what is already one of the industry’s most compact, ultra-rugged designs.
Designed specifically for customers seeking a mobile RFID solution in demanding in-premise environments, the Intermec 70 Series RFID reader platform supports medium to long-range read distances and is optimized to read one or many tags in support of inventory and asset tracking applications in retail, healthcare, industrial and government market segments. Additionally, the 70 Series RFID does not compromise size and weight; with a fully integrated design utilizing Intermec’s IM11 embedded module, along with an internally housed antenna, customers can experience advanced RFID read performance while maintaining the already-compact form factor of the 70 Series mobile computers.
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The New Optimus 5900 RFID Mobile Computer
The Optimus 5900 RFID is a versatile, light industrial mobile computer designed to deliver the benefits of radio frequency identification (RFID) and automated data collection for retail and supply chain enterprises. Providing quick and accurate reading of EPC Gen2 and ISO 18000-6B RFID tags, the Optimus 5900 RFID improves visibility of item-level inventory, helping retailers reduce item out of stocks and merchandise shrink, leading to increased sales and reduced operating costs. The benefits of RFID-based inventory management also extend to warehousing and distribution operations, offering fast and accurate tracking of products from delivery to point of sale.
The lightweight yet rugged mobile computer features an ergonomic form factor for ease of use over an extended period of time and comes complete with a crisp 3.5-inch screen, resistive touch panel and 28-key keyboard for accurate data entry. Integrated Adaptus Imaging Technology 5.0 provides advanced image-based data capture capabilities, allowing workers to perform all inventory management and mobile computing tasks on a single device.
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Intermec introduces the first tag motion software toolkit in a standardized reporting format. Intermec Advanced RFID Extensions (ARX) effectively identifies RFID tags of interest and discriminates surrounding tags, providing customers and software integrators the tools to essentially eliminate false-positive reporting of tags.
Getting the Most out of RFID
RFID provides business benefits and a strong ROI for many applications including asset tracking, materials management, and inventory control. Many processes for identifying objects and recording their movements can be automated by RFID. Unattended readers ensure that asset and inventory movements are recorded and alerts issued if the material is moved to the wrong place or at the wrong time. With a well designed RFID system you know all the intimate details of where everything is, where it’s been and where it needs to go. By making your systems smarter, you will be able to:
- Realize huge improvements in asset and inventory visibility
- Resolve problems right when they occur
- Reduce capital and operations expenses
- Increase flexibility of your data collection systems
- Achieve new levels of productivity
RFID automated processes rely on the accuracy of reading the right tags: those that pass through a portal, are on a forklift, or are passing by a checkpoint on a conveyor. Because an RFID reader indiscriminately reads all of the tags that it activates, the presence of stray tags, such as those that pass through a nearby portal or are stationary on nearby racks or pallets, complicates the identification of the true tags of interest versus those that are not part of the process in action.
Inventory management researchers recently unveiled a new RFID tagging system that will enable consumers and businesses to track valuable jewelery.
The new tags were created to attach to jewelery items such as necklaces and earrings, allowing individuals to monitor and follow their possessions in real time. Each RFID unit features a small hole, in which the piece of jewelry can easily slide into, therefore mitigating any damage to the accessory.
If a consumer or jewelery store owner accidentally misplaces an expensive pearl necklace or pair of diamond earrings, they can use the new tags – which can be identified within a range of three feet – to find them.
The tag’s slim and light-weight design allow it go unnoticed, while still maintaining a high level of protection.
RFID tags are used commonly in warehouses and retail sectors to increase oversight over supplies and to improve tracking capabilities. Other industries have recently adopted the technology, as the benefits can help a company save money by not having to invest in items because they have mistakenly been misplaced.
Handheld RFID readers are 90 percent faster than using barcode scanning guns for taking inventory.
Drivers whose windshields get too dusty don’t hesitate to clean the glass and improve their view. So why are retailers content to operate their businesses for months at a time with hazy information about their true in-stock positions?
Many executives assume that this is the best that can be done. After all, full inventory audits are costly and cumbersome. And retail shrink, cashier error and hard-to-detect shipment discrepancies are chronic problems that show little sign of abating. What these executives don’t realize is that a solution exists today that can give them clear visibility 365 days a year.
The solution that is creating this step change in visibility is called RFID, short for Radio Frequency Identification. Employees who use handheld RFID readers are able to take inventory over 90 percent faster than counterparts using traditional barcode scanning guns, and with greater accuracy, too.
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