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Electronic-Entertainment Distributor Automates Its RFID Tagging

The U.S. company plans to tag 100 percent of the cases it ships to retailers automatically, saving $83,000 yearly in labor costs.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 12, 2006A U.S. distributor of electronic-entertainment products has installed Accu-Sort Systems' Flexible Automation Solution Tools (FAST) Tag In-Motion RFID tag system. The distributor, which Accu-Sort has declined to name, installed the system in January to achieve automated RFID tagging of every carton passing through its system.

Currently, the distributor tags about 60 percent of the cases it ships, according to Michael Kuhno, RFID product specialist at Accu-Sort. Ultimately, however, the firm intends to reach 100 percent to comply with the RFID mandates of its retailer customers.

This will be the first time a FAST Tag-In Motion deployment will be used to tag 100 percent of a company's cartons. FAST Tag-In Motion is an automated RFID tag application system that includes bar-code scanning and RFID encoding, application, verification and control for conveyor systems. The system is scalable and configurable, and has previously been used by customers in the pharmaceutical, apparel and health and beauty industries for selective tagging.

The system allows a distributor to run all its cases down the same conveyor belt, automatically tagging any that require RFID tags. Meanwhile, other cartons—those destined for retailers that do not require RFID tagging—can pass through without being tagged.

Before using the FAST Tag-In Motion system, Kuhno says, workers at the entertainment-products distributor had been encoding and printing RFID labels manually using Technologies' R110Xi desktop RFID label printer-encoders. The workers then manually placed the tags on boxes to meet the RFID mandates of the distributor's retailer customers.

With the new automated system, as cases are shipped from the distributor's facilities, an Accu-Sort Axiom bar-code scanner reads each box's bar code number automatically. That information is directed to the FAST Tag In-Motion controller, which communicates with the customer's warehouse management system. The cases move along a conveyor while a unique RFID number is automatically encoded to each one by an Accraply RFID label printer-applicator on an Alien Technology Squiggle EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tag intended specifically for that box.

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