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Bar Coding and RFID Enable Food Supply Chain Traceability and Safety

Posted March 22, 2012

In the early days of bar coding, an Efficient Foodservice Response (EFR) study identified $847 million in savings potentially available by expanding bar coding within the food supply chain. Since then, the U.S. Bioterrorism Act, European Union Food Law, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) requirements mandate improved product identification and traceability. Today, technologies, techniques, and standards exist to help organizations throughout the food supply chain gain complete traceability for safety, compliance, and business process improvement.

Momentum is growing to implement whole-chain traceability, which includes internal and external visibility, from the grower, through the distributor, to the retailer. A key industry effort is the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), which strives to achieve supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability of every case of produce by 2012. Once fully adopted, PTI will improve the effectiveness of current trace-back procedures while enabling common standards for future traceability systems.

This white paper examines how the food industry can take advantage of bar code and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies to improve safety, reduce operating expenses, meet compliance requirements, and improve efficiency. It covers:

  • How bar code and RFID support compliance with regulations such as the Bioterrorism Act , EU Food Law, and The Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749)
  • Traditional uses and advantages of bar code data collection
  • Emerging technologies and standards, including Reduced Space Symbology (RSS) bar codes, Electronic Product Code (EPC) RFID technology, and the GS1 Global Traceability Standard (GS1 DataBar).

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Smart ID Cards for Education

Posted March 21, 2012

Secure the Campus While Providing Essential Services

From universities to primary schools, a revolution in technology is taking shape. The days when mundane tasks such as registration, book purchases, and meal programs required an army of administrators to manage piles of paperwork is but a digital page in today’s history e-books. Twenty-first-century innovation is bringing automation— and a chance to improve security—to the campus.

With education costs skyrocketing, departments at all levels are looking for ways to do more with less—trimming expenses while maximizing staff productivity. Add the looming threats to campus security, and educators must make decisions that balance quality of education with protecting our students. In fact, the 2011 Campus Safety magazine’s “How Safe Is Your Campus?” report revealed that 52 percent of faculty said their institutions fail to dedicate sufficient resources to campus safety and security.

The simple answer relies on the same technology that corporations use—secure smart ID cards. Embedded with “smart” features such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and tamper-resistant laminates, education campuses can realize a wide range of benefits, from tightening security, to streamlining admission, to improving paid services. Read on to find out how you can benefit from smart cards, and learn how your school district can do more with less.

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Tips for RFID Smart Label Printing/Encoding

Posted March 21, 2012

Zebra Technologies introduced the first integrated, on-demand radio frequency identification (RFID) smart label printer/encoder in 2001, and since then we have worked with hundreds of customers around the world who use different RFID protocols, frequencies, inlay designs, and standards. This experience has taught us several best practices that are applicable to any smart label printing operation.

Accurate RFID encoding is critical to every deployment. If the printer/encoder does not perform the tag data and item association correctly, the errors can propagate throughout the entire supply chain. Following the tips described in this white paper can help you get more from your smart label printing system by improving reliability, minimizing operator intervention, reducing wasted labels, preventing encoding and printing errors, and yielding more usable labels per media roll.

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Wireless Printing Delivers Efficiency and Cost Savings in Retail

Posted March 20, 2012

Wireless bar code and radio frequency identification (RFID) label printing is widely recognized by major retailers globally as an essential technology for enhancing store operations. The ability to print real-time information in the aisle, on demand, saves time, effort, and money—creating competitive advantages.

Once a retailer deploys a wireless network, the benefits of in-store wireless printing become self-evident. Employees can generate tagging labels, coupons, receipts, or tickets on demand at the point of need, and place products on promotion at a moment’s notice. Store associates can complete shelf price audits and re-labeling tasks within a short time period. Store managers can be more confident of shelf price integrity, resulting in fewer price checks at the register. Checkout clerks can print receipts as part of a mobile point-of-sale or customer line-busting solution. In addition, item-level RFID tagging enables precise inventory management and improves store efficiency.

Wireless printers, especially handheld mobile printers, can help lower total in-store printing expenses, reduce total cost of ownership (TCO), improve labor productivity, boost return on investment (ROI), and increase customer satisfaction. The pages that follow detail the far-ranging benefits of wireless bar code and RFID printing, and present innovative wireless printing solutions from Zebra.

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Anti-Counterfeit RFID Labeling

Posted March 19, 2012

Industry Need

Counterfeiting is a global phenomenon affecting a wide range of industries. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the potential negative ramifications of counterfeit parts with altered serial numbers being sourced and distributed in the supplier networks. These substandard parts can escape detection and be deployed in areas such as vehicle and aircraft spare parts and maintenance. Poor product quality, deterioration of the brand, and concern for consumer safety pose a very real threat. Counterfeiting can affect a company’s revenue and do incalculable long term damage when a substituted product is associated with a brand causing system downtime or even critical system or product failure. The costs associated with counterfeit parts just in the automotive and aerospace sectors are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. Companies look to Intermec for labeling solutions that can ultimately protect their products and their brands.

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RFID and Your Privacy— Myths and Facts

Posted March 19, 2012

Businesses and consumers today are asking, “Does radio frequency identification (RFID) invade the public’s right to privacy?” With any emerging technology, this is certainly a valid question to ask. And now is the time to answer that question.

Fact is RFID has become a critical technology for a wide range of industries—from the supply chain, through manufacturing, all the way to the retail store and beyond. The return on investment (ROI) RFID delivers comes from reducing the time and labor required to track assets and materials, decrease losses and theft, improve maintenance operations, and streamline efficiency through better asset availability and utilization.

Even though RFID offers unprecedented value, some people have viewed RFID as a threat to privacy. However, like any wireless technology, including cell phones, wireless networks, and Bluetooth connections, RFID devices provide remote readability. In theory, any technology that relies on radio frequency (RF) is inherently insecure. As a result, businesses and legislative bodies continuously seek ways to understand and lock down wireless security issues, while protecting the public’s privacy—and RFID is no different.

This white paper presents the facts about RFID and dispels the myths that RFID is invasive to privacy. The discussion that follows provides an overview of RFID, the primary consumer privacy concerns, and measures that are currently or that will soon be in place to protect businesses and consumers from misuse of this
vital technology.

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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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Filed under: Case Studies

Zebra Ensures Reliability for Innovative DOD RFID Compliance Service

Posted July 14, 2010

Zebra R110xi

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.”

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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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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