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RiteCare Says RFID Helps Cure Its Warehouse Woes

The drug retailer slashed inventory and errors, thanks to an EPC Gen 2 UHF solution provided by S3Edge that uses Microsoft's newly release BizTalk RFID Mobile middleware.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Dec 09, 2008RiteCare Pharmacy, a chain of 10 drugstores based in Hyderabad, India, has turned to an RFID-based inventory-tracking system to help the retailer improve its inventory visibility and speed its warehousing processes, in order to improve its overall business operations.

These sound like prudent goals for any retailer, but they are particularly important to RiteCare, because the company plans to grow its chain aggressively in the coming years. The firm wants to achieve this store growth without expanding its current 2,550-square-foot warehouse in Hyderabad, however, and without increasing the size of its staff at that location. Limiting costs in those areas, RiteCare hopes, will offer the pharmacy chain a competitive advantage.

RiteCare partnered with S3Edge, a solution provider that utilizes RFID technology to help companies improve inventory visibility, work-in-process visibility, and asset tracking and product recall operations. The companies worked together on a pilot test to determine whether employees could follow an S3 Edge-designed workflow software module, using a handheld computer, to guide them through order picking and shipment operations. The system would leverage RFID for one of the business processes, as well.

For the pilot, which commenced in summer of 2008, a beta version of Microsoft's BizTalk RFID Mobile middleware, designed to run on mobile RFID interrogators, was installed on Unitech RH767 handheld computers with built-in RFID interrogators.

BizTalk RFID Mobile works on handheld computers that run Windows Mobile and Windows CE operating systems. It employs the EPCglobal standard low-level reader protocol (LLRP) to communicate with a handheld reader, and supports the same device management and tag read event functions as the RFID BizTalk Server software. In addition, BizTalk RFID Mobile offers users the ability to operate in an offline function when they work in an area without wireless connectivity to the server. With this feature, a handheld can collect RFID tag reads in the field, store them locally in BizTalk RFID Mobile and upload them to an enterprise server once the device is reconnected to the network.

On Monday, Microsoft announced that this software, BizTalk Mobile, is now commercially available. BizTalk RFID Mobile is available free to companies that are already using BizTalk Server 2006, and that have a regular maintenance program agreement through Microsoft's Software Assurance program.

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