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Belton Industries Tests Tags on Textiles
The South Carolina manufacturer is considering the deployment of RFID technology to track rolls of fabric and streamline its order-fulfillment process.
This configuration, says Milam, enabled Belton to capture RFID tags as the rolls passed through the portal at various heights. As the truck filled up, the forklift operators needed to raise the loads higher as they approached the truck and passed the antennas. They found, however, that they could raise the rolls as much as 8 feet off the floor, and the tags could still be read—in that case, by the lower antennas.
"We wanted to show Belton Industries how the technology would work in their environment," Milam says. "We [installed] the equipment and put RFID labels on the rolls." The equipment consisted of the interrogator and four antennas, as well as a PC cabled to the reader, though the computer was not connected to Belton's own network. "We just wanted to show how the technology worked—and in the short term, we've proven that."
Several rolls were not readable, Milam says, though he indicates that was due to a specific effort to obtain bad reads. The group attempted to position the tags in such a way that they could not be read, thereby gaining a better understanding of the best tagging practices.
Clinkscales says she was pleased with the results of the test but now must weigh the costs of the deployment, which Milam estimates at about $30,000 for tags, a reader, antennas, a printer, software and integration. "The next step is to evaluate the payback," Clinkscales says. "I thought the pilot went really well."
If Belton Industries decides to deploy an RFID-based solution, Clinkscales says, the company could employ the system to manage inventory within the warehouse, as well at dock doors. She envisions fixed-position interrogators located around the warehouse, or RFID readers mounted on forklifts that would allow the company to track the location of its products within the facility.
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