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Tracking Evidence and Stolen Property is Easier with a Portable Bar Code Solution

Posted August 5, 2010

Zebra Mobile PrintersFor most companies, inventory-tracking errors are important, but rarely life-or-death situations. For the Lake County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Department however, “life-or-death” takes on new meaning. To manage all its criminal evidence, victims’ personal effects and lost items, this Sheriff’s Department turned to bar coding to ensure that nothing is misplaced or mislabeled.

Challenge:
Once evidence is received at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department’s evidence facility, it must be entered into the system to identify what is in inventory and how it got there. Traditionally, after sealing an item in an evidence bag, the officer would fill out a handwritten form to request that the items be submitted into property control. The property control form included all vital information about the item: the case number, the nature of the incident, the time and date that the item was collected, the location of the offense, the location at which the item was collected (if different), the name of the victim or suspect, the property owner’s information (in the case of stolen property) and an identifying number provided by the officer to sequentially record the many individual items recovered at each scene. Finally, the officer would include a brief description of the evidence itself. Besides being a time-consuming task—a new form had to be completed for each item—the information on this form was only as valid as the legibility of the officer’s handwriting. After submitting the form, the information would then be manually entered into the system, diminishing the likelihood for complete validity even further.

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U.S. military relies on Zebra for visibility to keep equipment shipments on track

Posted August 5, 2010

Zebra Thermal Printers

Challenge
As military personnel continue to carry out the mission known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” innumerable amounts of material, from food to ammunition to spare parts, need to follow the troops wherever they go. This would be a tough situation for any supply chain, but add to it the austere conditions of the Iraqi desert.

The Department of Defense (DoD) needed a portable system that its movement control teams (MCT) within the transportation movement battalion could use at the point of activity to monitor and report material receipt and shipment, as well as correct any problems regarding shipment identification.

Solution
The DoD turned to Zebra Technologies to create a mobile material tracking system. What resulted was the deployable asset visibility system (DAVS), a self-contained mobile system that utilizes mobile computers plus bar code and radio frequency identification (RFID) to track assets throughout the transportation process. Using this system, soldiers have immediate access to the data necessary to create a new military shipping label or rewrite a tag. Should communication with the DoD host server be necessary, a satellite-based messaging and routing system works with the mobile unit to do the job. The DAVS system also enables the MCT to monitor receipt and shipping, plus correct problems that would otherwise delay the shipment.

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RFID Tags Improve Efficiency For Paper Shipping Company

Posted August 2, 2010

Sunoco, a manufacturer of packaging products, recently invested in RFID technology to make shipment tracking more convenient for its customers.

Many of the Hartsville, South Carolina-based company’s clients are in the paper industry themselves; thus, having paper cores arrive that were RFID-ready will offer Sunoco and its customers a more efficient and effective inventory management system to keep track of their materials.

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CHRU (Tours) is leading the fight against cancer with Datalogic Mobile terminals

Posted July 16, 2010

CHRU uses the Memor™ to assure hospital employees mobility while keeping connected to the main system

The Regional Hospital Center/University of Tours (CHRU) campus area benefits from a privileged position in the heart of the region. The establishment employs over 7,000 people, making it a formidable player in the regional economy. This public health establishment groups together 6 hospitals offering the most important medical services (medicine, surgery, injury department…). Since 1998, the CHRU of Tours has accommodated a number of construction and renovation projects, so as to ensure the availability of structures which are customized to meet the new requirements of the medical industry and to be able to respond to the patients and their families’ needs. Today, the CHRU of Tours includes over 2,000 beds, provides services to over 65,000 people a year and is looking for ways to accommodate another 375 people a day.

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Small Mobile Printers Make Big Difference for Tracking Government Port Activity

Posted July 14, 2010

Zebra Mobile Printers

When the Department of Defense (DoD) was looking for new bar code label and receipt printing solutions for a wide variety of demanding applications, Zebra Technologies clearly stood out from its competitors. Zebra’s line of rugged, mobile, and easy-to-use printers and accessories provided the speed, power, and durability that the DoD’s various agencies needed.

One of the agencies currently using Zebra® printers is the Virginia-based Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), which provides worldwide single-port management, transportation and traffic-management services, and deployment planning and engineering for the DoD.

MTMC has used the Worldwide Port System (WPS) to account for military cargo being shipped around the world through water ports. This Automated Information System(AIS) supports MTMC units operating in both domestic and overseas water terminals.

An early proponent of the use of bar coded labels, the DoD has utilized Military Shipping Labels (MSLs) to label its unit equipment being transported around the world since the mid-1980s. The label included a linear bar coded Transportation Control Number, which functioned as the number by which cargo is tracked. Labels were scanned when cargo arrived at or left one of MTMC’s water ports, or when it was lifted or discharged from a military-owned or leased ship. Although this was an improvement over a totally manual process, scanning linear bar coded labels still required significant human resources to track and manage cargo coming in and out of its ports around the world.

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Zebra Ensures Reliability for Innovative DOD RFID Compliance Service

Posted July 14, 2010

Zebra R110xi

Challenge
Many suppliers to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)—especially those who use radio frequency identification (RFID) printer/encoders and supplies from Zebra Technologies — have learned that producing accurate RFID labels for shipments is the easy part of meeting the DOD’s compliance requirements. The hard part is matching shipments to contract numbers and orders, generating the documentation for each shipment and electronically submitting it to the DOD’s Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) and other computer systems.

“RFID labels are just one part of meeting the DOD’s requirements,” says Anne Ramppen, government products coordinator at New Dynamics, which provides monthly shipments of earplugs to the DOD. “The Wide Area Workflow system needs contract numbers, CAGE codes, and product numbers, and each RFID label number associated with each shipment is also required—that’s a lot of numbers to be typing in.”

“The term ‘slap-and-ship’ is a gross over-simplification of the reality of meeting the DOD RFID mandate,” says Cotty England, chief technology officer of Odyssey RFIDTM. “The common misconception is that generating the RFID tag is the core challenge, but as the DOD’s commercial suppliers get actual exposure to RFID, they quickly realize that the core challenges are the work flow process control, flexibility and seamless WAWF integration.”

Solution
Data management is a common problem for DOD suppliers. Odyssey RFIDTM has created a solution to handle data entry, encoding, label printing and reporting needs by pairing an easy-to-use Web-based application for data entry with reliable Zebra printer/encoders to output compliant shipping labels.

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Datamax-O’Neil’s I-Class printer helps manufacturer respond to government requirements and gain higher productivity and profitability

Posted May 26, 2010

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration in China passed legislation that required pharmaceutical enterprises involved in the manufacture and distribution of pharmaceutical products to apply barcode identification on all unit-dose medical product packaging. As a pharmaceutical manufacturer specializing in vaccine production, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products had to find a barcode solution to meet the requirements set by the legislation. They sought the help of Datamax-O’Neil to implement a track-and-trace solution, using Datamax-O’Neil’s I-Class series industrial printers.

Wuhan Institute of Biological Products produces an average of more than 100,000 vials of various vaccines daily. These vaccines have to be delivered to health and epidemic prevention stations as well as disease control centers throughout China on time and uninterrupted to meet the daily needs of disease control and prevention. While complying with the new legislation, they also had to ensure that product identification in the manufacturing process would not impact the existing production flow or slow down productivity. To support this, the Institute required an industrial strength printer that it could rely on for mission critical and accurate barcode label printing.

Enter the I-Class series printers. The I-4208 and I-4308 barcode printers feature a tough, modular design that includes a die-cast aluminum frame that assures durability and rugged reliability. The printers come with a standard 32Bit processor and 8MB (16MB) of standard memory for fast first-label output and print speed of 8 inches per second, with a printing resolution of 203dpi (I4208) and 300dpi (I4308) respectively, perfect for printing clear and accurate barcode labels for medical packages that come in varying sizes.

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H&M Bay leverages RFID solutions from Motorola to accelerate cold storage freight transfer

Posted May 25, 2010

Motorola RD5000

The company: H&M Bay, Inc.

In business for more than 25 years, H&M Bay provides efficient, reliable transport of temperature-controlled less-than-truckload (LTL) freight. H&M Bay has distribution centers in California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Washington. With its strategically located distribution centers and an owner/operator network of over 10,000, H&M Bay provides industryleading delivery to companies throughout the continental U.S.

The challenge: Fast, efficient product handling and inventory tracking

In the LTL freight industry, time is always a major factor in successfully meeting customers’ needs. When temperature control is required, a focus on operational efficiency is critical, and efficiency is a guiding principle at H&M Bay.

Being the premier freight mover in the LTL frozen and refrigerated commodities market, H&M Bay is always looking at ways to increase service excellence. One example is the company’s custom Web-based dispatch system designed and implemented by John Walker, H&M Bay’s software development manager. The web based system was designed to allow customers and remote workers access to critical operations data 24×7. The customer Extranet opens up the dispatch operations of H&M via online order entry and real time push or pull shipment tracking. Tight integration with the Microsoft Navision Accounting application provides customer and vendor account insight tightly integrated with shipment information.

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American Apparel Finds the Right Fit with Motorola RFID

Posted May 25, 2010

Company overview

American Apparel is a manufacturer, distributor, and retailer of branded fashion apparel based in Los Angeles. The company started in 1989 as a wholesaler of t-shirts and opened its first retail outlets in 2003. As of mid 2008, American Apparel operates over 200 retail stores in 18 countries and the chain is still growing rapidly.

All of American Apparel’s products are manufactured in the United States; its wholesale business supplies its cotton-based casual wear to distributors and screen printers. The company is a vertically integrated operation and conducts its own knitting, dying, cutting and sewing, and design out of its headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. American Apparel’s young, metropolitan customers are very loyal to the brand.

The challenge: improve business processes and reduce lost sales attributable to out-of-stocks

American Apparel retail stores operate boutique-style, stocking only one item of each style, color and size on the floor at any time. Inventory turnover is quick and traffic between the stock room and the sales floor is high, particularly during busy hours. With more than 26,000 SKU items to manage, maintaining accurate inventory counts and a 100% stock mix on the floor consumed significant time and labor. However, both were considered critical to the chain’s success, since inventory errors and stocking delays translated directly into lost sales.

The potential benefits of reducing labor and increasing sales from deploying an item-level RFID operation at American Apparel were clear. And given the control it has over its manufacturing, distribution and retail operations, American Apparel’s plan was not only to reap the benefits of RFID on the retail floor, but throughout its closed loop supply chain. The company was eager to test the current capabilities of RFID for accuracy, performance and adaptability to American Apparel’s business processes, with four clear goals for process improvements:

  • Increased stock visibility
  • Improved accuracy/reliability of inventory counts
  • Decreased labor costs and human errors associated with inventory
  • Sales floor stock levels maintained at virtually 100%

Planning the pilot: the right location and the right partners to test the potential of item-level RFID

American Apparel gave careful consideration to its choice of store for the pilot. They were looking for a store that had average sales and a dedicated staff that would embrace the technology and a new process for inventory management. In addition, they wanted a location with good traffic flow that was centrally located to other area stores, to facilitate a regional roll-out if the single store pilot proved successful. Ultimately, the store chosen was the Columbia University area store in New York City, which also serves as the returns center for all the American Apparel New York City stores.

Equal consideration was given to the technology partners who would support the pilot. To give item level RFID a legitimate test in a real-world retail environment, American Apparel wanted to start with proven and universally-deployed hardware and software. Based on their market leadership and technology innovation, American Apparel chose Motorola MC9090-G RFID handheld readers for product commissioning and cycle counting. Motorola XR440 fixed readers with AN400 antennas were deployed to track stock moving from the backroom to the sales floor, and also at the point of sale to indicate a sale, decrement inventory, and trigger a product replenish. The retailer also used tags from Avery Dennison’s Retail Information Services combined with Vue Technologies’ TrueVUE Platform.

The TrueVUE platform offers retailers a streamlined, scalable platform that offers increased visibility into inventory levels, location and authenticity. The initial deployment of American Apparel’s pilot system placed RFID tags on each item of clothing and merchandise within American Apparel’s Columbia University area store in New York City.

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Operation: Improve Asset Management

Posted May 25, 2010

U.S. Army improves Asset ManagementFrom weapons to desks and chairs, the U.S. Army relies on the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) system to track Army assets and automate property accountability processes across the supply chain while providing for greater visibility of these assets. PBUSE, the U.S. Army’s Web-based property accountability and tracking system, is part of the Global Combat Support System for both garrison and tactical units. Intermec solutions are at the core of helping PBUSE minimize their inventory tracking costs.

The Intermec solution consists of the CK61 rugged mobile computer and the PM4i Thermal Printer. This solution covers close to 13,000 military locations and manages tens of millions of inventory items for the Army at any given time. By minimizing the footprint cost on and off the battlefield, the Intermec solution has improved inventory asset management by 80 percent, saving the U.S. Army over half a million dollars in permanently lost or misplaced inventory and additional costs to individual soldiers.

At a critical time in the U.S. Army’s history with two major wars taking place, the Army has no room for error when it comes to keeping track of equipment on the battlefield, as well as, in the warehouse. However it has become increasingly difficult to track inventory, particularly as it relates to deployed units. Due to a paper-based, data entry, receipt system, PBUSE has been hampered by inefficient asset tracking processes used to confirm inventory.

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