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NeWave Sensor Solutions Unveils Smart Shelf to Track High-Volume, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods

The system uses RFID-enabled shelf dispensers, eliminating the need to tag individual items, and related costs.
By Beth Bacheldor

In 2012, NeWave demonstrated its Smart Shelf system at the University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center, in order to obtain feedback from industry experts and retailers who attended the demo. In late 2012, NeWave launched a pilot of the Smart Shelf, which it installed at three of a retailer's stores (see What Retailers Need to Know About Smart Fixtures, Shelves and Labels). The solution was used to track a portion of energy drinks at each location. During a nine-month period, Ryan reports, there was a 68 percent increase in on-shelf availability of the beverage. Since then, he adds, four separate companies have undertaken pilots, one of which has moved beyond a proof-of-concept stage and is now conducting a beta test.

NeWave is developing other products as well. The firm currently offers an RFID portal, available in floor- and wall-mounted versions, built using the Wave antenna. Plans are underway to develop smart shopping baskets and carts to provide retailers with additional data, such as the number of carts in use at any given time (which can provide automated counts of customer activity), or how many have moved out of a store and into the parking lot.

Additionally, the company is developing solutions for industry sectors beyond retail. Last month, NeWave announced a partnership with PiiComm, a Canadian provider of managed mobility services (see RFID News Roundup: PiiComm, NeWave Partner on RFID-enabled Medical Inventory-Management Solution). PiiComm and NeWave are combining their technologies into a Smart Inventory Management System (SIMS) to help hospitals and other health-care organizations more effectively manage medical supplies, valuable assets and staff compliance. The solution, featuring bins to house medical products, can automatically monitor the state of a hospital's inventory and the locations of all items.

An RFID tag is attached to each end of a bin, which is divided in half, forming "primary" and "safety" stock sides, so that as an asset's primary supply is depleted, the bin can simply be reversed on the shelf to expose the safety stock side. SIMS continually monitors and reports whether each product bin is in the primary or safety position, and the change data is consolidated in the SIMS Web-based software portal. The solution is designed to eliminate the need for kanban- and card-based systems requiring that employees pull stock cards or take some other action to ensure accurate inventory. In many situations, it can be retrofitted to existing shelving systems, and it is scalable to meet a customer's particular needs.

The NeWave Smart Shelf is available now, with price varying depending on the configuration. The company claims the solution is comparable to systems built using patch antennas.

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