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RFID News Roundup

Dutch shoe company Wolky to affix RFID labels on shoeboxes during production; Concord Hospital implements Logi-D replenishment system; Balluff offers new performance-based training for RFID; Fluensee rebrands as TrackX, announces investment; William Frick & Co. adds 3D printing services for rapid prototyping of tags; SITA implements NFC-enabled boarding pass system at Schiphol Airport; AccelerateNFC begins inaugural class, Startupbootcamp ends first program.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jan 23, 2014

The following are news announcements made during the past week by the following organizations: Wolky; Logi-D, Concord Hospital; Balluff; William Frick & Co.; TrackX; SITA, Schiphol Airport; AccelerateNFC and Startupbootcamp.

Dutch Shoe Company Wolky to Affix RFID Labels on Shoeboxes During Production
Dutch shoe manufacturer and retailer Wolky has decided to attach RFID labels during the production of its products, according to Nedap Retail, which has been working with the Dutch footwear brand to implement Nedap's RFID-enabled inventory- and retail-management system across its retail operations (see Wolky Reduces Stock-Outs, Boosts Sales With RFID). Wolky is replacing the bar-code label on each shoebox with an integrated Nedap RFID label embedded with a passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 inlay. The new labeling will be introduced in phases, but the aim is to apply RFID labels to all items from Wolky's winter collection in 2014, Nedap reports, as well from future collections. The labels can be scanned using !D Hand, a mobile RFID reader capable of reading up to 10,000 RFID tags per hour, in both the logistics chain and in stores. Prior to its move to tag shoeboxes during production, Wolky was affixing an RFID label to each shoebox as shipments were received at the stores. The decision to begin affixing RFID tags during production was spurred by one of Wolky's resellers, according to Nedap. A Wolky-brand retailer that has already integrated RFID successfully at its stores requested that Wolky attach RFID labels at the production stage in order to speed up inventory processes. Since Wolky believes other retailers will also wish to use the RFID technology, Wolky has agreed to the phased introduction of a standard Wolky RFID label on its shoeboxes at its footwear factories. Not only will each reseller benefit from the RFID labels, Nedap reports, but Wolky will be able to use the RFID labels as a means of achieving efficiency benefits within its logistics chain, as well as increase supply chain reliability and improve customer satisfaction.

Concord Hospital Implements Logi-D Replenishment System
Concord Hospital, a regional hospital in New Hampshire with 295 licensed beds and 230 staffed beds, has begun implementing the 2BIN-iD RFID-based replenishment system from Logi-D, a provider of hospital supply chain management (SCM) and automation solutions. The hospital is leveraging the solution to help streamline its logistics practices and increase the efficiency of its supply replenishment processes. By implementing the 2BIN-iD solution, Concord Hospital hopes to improve order accuracy, recover valuable resource time, optimize inventory levels and increase the visibility of its supply usage, according to Logi-D. The 2BIN-iD system features a shelving unit with multiple baskets for storing sutures or other medical supplies. Each basket has a card attached to it, containing an embedded 13.56 MHz passive RFID tag complying with the ISO 15693 standard. When a basket is emptied, a nurse can remove that basket, along with the card clipped to it, and then place the card on a board containing an RFID reader, mounted behind it. The interrogator collects the unique ID number encoded to the card's tag, and then transmits this information to Logi-D's LogiDATA-iD software application, which links the transponder information to the supply database. The software automatically issues resupply requests to the appropriate personnel, who can then unclip the RFID card from the board, affix it to a full basket and place that basket on the shelf. According to Logi-D, the regional hospital has already achieved a return on its investment. In addition to realizing a 13 percent reduction in inventory levels and recovering 23 percent of the floor space previously used for storing supplies, it is expected that there will be a 63 percent decrease in stock wastage, as well as an optimization of the inventory environment for both materials management and clinical personnel. The facility operates a stockless low-unit-of-measure (LUM) model, and the RFID-enabled replenishment system helps it more effectively capture actual supply demand, which it can then forward to its LUM service provider. "This lean RFID-enabled two-bin system will help us accelerate our adoption of lean practice throughout the facility; it is an ideal system for Concord that fits into our widely varied workflows most appropriately," said Donna Millette, Concord Hospital's director of lean operations, in a prepared statement. "Logi-D's products and niche software will also help us focus on continual optimization and error elimination." For the first phase of the deployment, 38 locations were identified as the highest impact areas for initial implementation of the 2BIN-iD system, and included 16 sterile areas such as operating rooms, four specialty areas such as catheterization labs, and 18 nursing areas including the ICU. Phase 2 of the 2BIN-iD implementation will outfit the remaining general supply storage areas with automated replenishment capabilities, Logi-D reports. Additionally, Concord Hospital has elected to expand replenishment automation to its high-value supplies, through the implementation of CC-iD, Logi-D's item-level traceability solution. Other hospitals that are using the 2BIN-iD system include Hôtel-Dieu d'Amos, in Quebec (see RFID Helps Hôtel-Dieu d'Amos Replenish Consumables).

Balluff Offers New Performance-Based Training for RFID
Balluff, the U.S. subsidiary of Germany's Balluff GmbH, has announced that it will offer performance-based training classes for radio frequency identification. The goal of the training classes, Balluff reports, is to provide customers with on-hands training to prepare them for tasks they will need to perform on the job. The new RFID architecture course is designed to prepare someone to build a solution to a given RFID application. The first part of the two-day course explains the fundamentals of RFID, the second part emphasizes using specific tools to build the correct solution and the course's final project involves a specific RFID application. Participants will use all of the tools and concepts they have learned to build a solution ready for presentations, including a Microsoft Visio graphical depiction. The RFID Architecture course is designed to enable individuals to create the correct RFID solution for a given application, explains Brian Hedges, Balluff's product training manager. A Solution Builder Tool provides tremendous help in this area, he says, and the Visio tools make creating graphical depictions of the solution easy. Although the RFID Architecture course starts from a fairly fundamental position, Hedges recommends that attendees have some prior knowledge of RFID. Among the course's objectives are to teach the benefits of RFID, applications in which RFID can be used, the main components of an RFID system, each component's functions, the factors affecting an RFID tag's read-write range, antenna size's impact on an application and more. An RFID Implementation course will also be offered, Hedges says, though its availability has not yet been announced. The training courses, offered to Balluff customers, are available at the company's facility in Florence, Kentucky. With a minimum of four students, the training can take place at a customer's facility (if that facility is located more than 60 miles from the Balluff's office, the customer would pay for the instructor's travel expenses). A course for four students costs $500 per individual, with the price decreasing for larger enrollments. For example, with five students the price is $475, but the cost per individual would drop to $350 for 10 students. If the RFID course is bundled with another Balluff course, such as Balluff's Ethernet course or Sensor Fundamentals, there are also discounts, Hedges says. For bundling two courses, for instance, a customer would receive a 5 percent discount on the entire order; for bundling three courses, it would be a 10 percent discount on the whole order. More information about Balluff's new training program is available at www.balluff.com/balluff/MUS/en/service/Training.jsp.

William Frick & Co. Adds 3D Printing Services for Rapid Prototyping

Frick's prototype 3D-printed metal-mount tag
William Frick & Co. has announced a 3D printing service for rapid prototyping of RFID tags and other products. The service, according to Frick, leverages a 3D printer to produces functional prototypes that can be tested under real-world circumstances in order to help customers save time and production costs while improving end results. "Because we serve customers in a variety of markets, each product we supply is unique and designed for a very specific application," said Jeff Brandt, William Frick & Co.'s president, in a prepared statement. "Using a 3D printer is a quick, cost-effective way to respond to our customers' needs." Most prototypes created at Frick are made of a durable ABS thermoplastic. According to the company, the 3D printer melts the plastic and expels it, one tiny line at a time, to create a three-dimensional product that functions and feels like a finished product. Besides simple shapes, the 3D printer can create impressive and complex designs, such as the one-piece closed Mobius (infinity) loop. The company claims the 3D printer offers great benefits to its customers seeking an RFID solution. "Some of the more complex uses for RFID applications require tags with custom housing that maximizes mounting and performance options," Brandt explained in the statement. "These applications may require tags to be hermetically sealed for use in a harsh environment, for example." The ABS plastic produces very sturdy prototypes that customers take back to their sites, test in a real-world environment and provide feedback about. This, the company says, enables users to execute ideas and ensure design optimization while keeping prototyping costs low.

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