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True Health Clubs Use RFID to Shape Up Towel Management

The Singapore-based company can better track the towels it loans to patrons, as well as those that are picked up or returned by its laundry service provider.
By Claire Swedberg

If, a member forgets to return towels and walks through the gate to exit the building, the reader will capture those towels' ID numbers, trigger an audible alarm and issue an alert to the software, indicating which towels are leaving the premises. Since the towels are linked to that specific individual in the software, the company can contact him as well.

Once the wet towels retrieved from the used towel box have accumulated and are ready to be laundered, staff members use an Atid AT880 handheld to read the towels' tags as the laundry vendor picks them up to bring them to its own facility for washing. When the vendor returns the cleaned towels, True Yoga's staff again read the tags to confirm delivery and verify that none are missing. While the manual process to verify the quantity of towels shipped and received took about a half-hour to complete, the company reports, the RFID-enabled process takes only three minutes.

A club employee uses an Atid AT880 handheld reader to interrogate the tags of towels as they are picked up by the laundry vendor.
Patrick Wee, True Group's CEO, says one of the technology's primary benefits will be in providing proof that a specific number of towels went to the laundry vendor and were later returned. "The most important thing," he notes, "is to eliminate arguments between our employees and the laundry vendor."

In addition, the solution reduces the rate of shrinkage, because patrons are more diligent about returning towels to the used-towel bin since the system monitors the returning process. The company can also use the software to ensure that towels do not run out or to keep track of those being laundered.

Based on this solution, EPC Solutions is now developing an automatic towel-dispensing machine that could be used by health clubs, hotels, swimming pools or other companies that loan towels to customers. The machine, which contains a built-in RFID reader, would also track what is returned, and when, as well as issue alerts when the machine is full of used towels, or requires replenishment of clean ones. The company plans to release a prototype of the machine by April 2015.

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