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Asahi Glass Co. Tracks Documents via Smart Shelves

The Japanese company is using Cell Form RFID antennas to know the locations of 6,000 files, and when a particular document was removed, thereby reducing labor hours and the risk of a misplaced document.
By Claire Swedberg

The system employs Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL) CS468 RFID readers (see RFID Sheet Antennas Enable Unique Shelf-Management Systems) wired to Teijin's Cell Form smart sheet antennas. The antenna captures tag reads from a distance of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet), though that distance can be narrowed to 15 centimeters (6 inches). The reader then forwards that information to Teijin's Smart Shelf-Management software, residing on Asahi Glass' back-end server. The software determines the location and forwards that data to Asahi Glass' own management software.

The Teijin sheet antenna has an adjustable width of 2.9 to 4.7 inches and an adjustable length of up to 94 inches, based on the number of tagged items that need to be read. Each of the 10 readers used in the system manages eight sheet antennas, which altogether accommodate a total of about 6,000 files. The Cell Form sheet technology is designed to limit the RFID signals, thereby more closely approximating a tag's location on a shelf. The layers of the sheet (which consists of two conductive layers with a dielectric layer between them) propagate the 920 MHz UHF reader signal across the sheet that interrogates any tags within the vicinity (immediately above that antenna).

Asahi Glass' software combines the RFID smart shelf-data from Teijin's system with access data indicating who entered and exited the room, and when this occurred. This enables the company to identify who has taken and returned which item, and at what time.

Because the system reads the documents' RFID tags on a regular basis—thereby accumulating data that management can access in real time—the need to conduct visual inventory counts has been eliminated. This, Yoshiaki says, boosts the company's operational efficiency. In addition, he states, the "management of confidential documents will be possible with greater precision and efficiency than ever before."

A similar system is also in use to track books at several libraries, including Tokyo's Chuo City Library, which has tagged books in its area designated as "Hall 3," and is tracking the locations of those books on its shelves via the Cellcross technology.

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