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Suzuken Group Deploys RFID-Enabled Coolers for Drug Tracking

The system, provided by ASD Healthcare, was piloted for 18 months, and now will include approximately 1,000 coolers at distribution sites, hospitals and drug stores.
By Claire Swedberg

ASD Healthcare has been offering its Cubixx solution for a decade, initially to acute-care facilities, as well as pharmacies, clinics, hospitals and patients, to track RFID-tagged products inside their Cubixx coolers (see ASD Healthcare Deploys RFID Refrigerated Drug Cabinets).

Each unit comes with a built-in ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID reader and antenna array. The make or model of antenna and reader varies, depending on the pharmacy's criteria and the specific Cubixx unit in use. The units can serve as refrigerators or freezers, with the RFID readers capturing tag read data at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit). They can also capture ambient or controlled room temperatures. Cubixx units and data are completely customizable, Flori says.

The Cubixx units typically vary from 1.7 cubic feet to 56 cubic feet in size, and organizations can use just one, or a fleet of them. In Suzuken's case, however, the units needed to be wider and shallower than those deployed in North America or Europe, in order to meet the requirements of the buildings in which the coolers are typically installed.

If tagged medications are placed inside a Cubixx cooler, the units' built-in RFID readers collect and transmit each tag's ID number to the Cubixx software on Suzuken's own server. The information is then forwarded to the drug company's own management software via a cellular or cabled connection. With the Cubixx software, Suzuken can also use a portal that enables other members of the supply chain, such as authorized drug manufacturers, physicians or pharmacists, to access the information.

The solution enables tracking to be virtually hands-free. Once a drug is tagged (multiple tag makes and models are in use) and its ID number is linked to that particular medication's description in the software, it can simply be placed in the Cubixx cooler, and the reader will begin transmitting data regarding that tagged item's location.

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