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Asahi Glass Co. Tracks Documents via Smart Shelves

The Japanese company is using Cell Form RFID antennas to know the locations of 6,000 files, and when a particular document was removed, thereby reducing labor hours and the risk of a misplaced document.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 02, 2014

Japanese glass manufacturer AGC Asahi Glass is tracking approximately 6,000 document files with an RFID-based shelf-management solution provided by Japanese carbon fiber plastics company Teijin Ltd. The system, using Teijin's RFID-enabled Cell Form sheets (which act as reader antennas) installed on shelves, tracks the ID number of each passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tag attached to a file while it is stored on a shelf. AGC can then link that data with details regarding who has taken a particular file, based on access-control records.

AGC manufactures glass products for the automotive and transportation industry, as well as lighting, energy, building materials and consumer products. The firm maintains files containing documents—related to the development work done on its products—on shelves within an enclosed, secure storage area, which personnel can enter only by inputting a password at the locked door. Prior to the RFID solution's installation, if a file were discovered to be missing, the company faced a monumental task in trying to locate it or identify who may have taken it, resulting in a waste of time and the risk of permanently losing that file.

The company sought a solution by which regular inventory checks of all its files would no longer be necessary, and that would enable employees to quickly locate a specific document when needed, explains Hirano Yoshiaki, the manager of Cell Form's sales section. As part of this more efficient document-tracking solution, the company wanted to be able to know what was on its shelves in real time, but also which files had been removed and by whom, so that if a document was no longer on the shelf, the firm could identify the individual who had removed it ask him or her about it.

Asahi Glass began working with Teijin in 2013 to create a solution using the Cell Form smart sheet. The technology was developed by Cellcross, a spinoff venture company comprising researchers from the University of Tokyo. Asahi began installing the system in May 2013, and the technology was taken live in November.

The company deployed 6,000 EPC Gen 2 UHF passive RFID tags (the company is using a variety of makes and models) affixed to files. The unique ID number encoded to each tag is linked to data about the corresponding file in AGC's software. Once the tag ID is stored in the system, along with the file data, that file can then be placed on the shelf, resting on top of a Cell Form sheet.

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