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RFID Secures Discarded Documents—and the Process of Shredding Them

Reisswolf's electronic lock system uses passive and active tags to ensure that only authorized personnel can dispose of documents, as well as monitor the status of the disposal containers and their contents.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 21, 2012Reisswolf, a European document-shredding and confidential-waste-management firm, is employing radio frequency identification in an electronic lock system it calls e.l.sy, to manage its inventory of locking document-disposal containers, as well as to provide security by ensuring that the containers are unlocked only by authorized parties, and at the proper times. With the solution in place, a user not only can manage which individuals can open a particular container, but also view a record indicating when that occurred, and for how long. The company began using the solution for its customers in Switzerland in October 2011, and now offers it in Austria and Germany. Later this month, the firm plans to offer the technology to its customers in Prague, Czech Republic.

The technology underlying the e.l.sy solution is FMTec's security container lock (SECOLO) system, which includes Identec Solutions' SensorSmart software and RFID tag exciters (known as i-Marks), as well as its own RFID-enabled locks and reader access points, to track containers and detect any potential security breaches. To open a container secured by a SECOLO electronic lock, a user employs an RFID chip card or badge instead of a metal key.


A Reisswolf security container with FMTec's SL1000 RFID-enabled lock.
For Reisswolf's customers, says Oliver Graumann, the company's CEO, "the key benefits are a general security advantage," as well as the ability to track the locations of its containers, with timestamps of delivery or receipt. The e.l.sy solution also allows its customers to evaluate the use of each container, via historical analysis.

Banks and insurance companies hire firms like Reisswolf to safely dispose of their sensitive paperwork and IT documents. Reisswolf provides locked containers that only authorized personnel can unlock in order to add documents for disposal. The locked containers' contents are then shredded, either at a truck designed for that purpose, located in front of the customer's building—so that the customer can witness the shredding—or at one of Reisswolf's shredding facilities. Typically, there are several different mechanical locks and keys, though the process of managing the locks and keys can be cumbersome, the company reports. Keys can be lost or broken, explains Manfred Falch, FMTec's CEO, and with tens of thousands of containers provided from just one of Reisswolf's sites, it becomes impossible to provide a unique key for every lock.

In a typical scenario, a container is delivered to a user, kept on site for up to a month and is removed to be emptied and its contents destroyed, while a new, empty container is then provided to the customer. In an effort to eliminate confusion involving the keys, Reisswolf had occasionally provided the containers sans keys, so that no users could open them. Sometimes, however, a keyless customer needed to retrieve objects mistakenly placed within a container—for example, if an employee erroneously disposed of a document required by the firm, or dropped a ring or other piece of jewelry through the container's slot. This could lead to considerable inconvenience.

To solve this problem, and to provide secure access only to authorized parties, Reisswolf began using the SECOLO system, which FMTec now also sells to other customers in the secure-document shredding industry, as well as for the secure transporting or storage of pharmaceuticals or health-care materials.

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