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IGC Brand Services Tags Diamonds, Jewelry

The HF RFID system enables the wholesaler to track when products arrive, where they are as they are processed, and when they are stored, shipped or returned, via a combination of handheld and desktop readers.
By Claire Swedberg

"The biggest problem for dealers is that every item is worth so much, and has to be individually tracked," says Gikas Markantonatos, Custom Systems Inc.'s owner. "Before RFID came along, it could be several weeks after something has gone missing that the problem could be discovered." With the RFID functionality, he adds, companies like IGC Brands can improve efficiency be reducing the need to manually count items, and detect much more quickly when a piece of inventory has gone missing. It also enables wholesalers to quickly identify if there is a discrepancy between the inventory of items shipped by the manufacturer and what was actually received.

With the RFID-based system at IGC Brands, passive 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) RFID tags, compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, are being attached to each item of jewelry, as well as to each paper envelope containing loose diamonds. This month, IGC's jewelry supplier began attaching a barbell-shaped label fitted with a TJS Insert Tag to each ring or chain made at its facility in Thailand. Prior to that, IGC Brands attached the tags as the items were received at its own location. When diamonds arrive from its supplier in Botswana, IGC Brands attaches a TJS Diamond Tag to each gem's envelope (a special piece of paper that folds around a single diamond to create a container) and inputs data related to that item into the Gem Accountant software, to be linked with the tag's unique ID number.

When IGC receives a box of tagged jewelry from its Thai supplier, a staff member uses a Kenetics Volaré handheld reader or a TJS Desktop Scanner reader to interrogate the tag IDs of all products. The Gem Accountant software then updates the items' status as received. If there is a discrepancy between the products shipped and those received, the software alerts the company immediately. Once the new merchandise has been received, workers can indicate in the software that the items are being moved directly into the vault, where they are then stored until needed to fill an order.

Once an order is received from a retailer, the jewelry and diamonds required to fill that order are removed from the vault, and a handheld reader can then be used to document that removal. Workers keep the items in a box next to their workstation as they work.

IGC staff members work on the diamonds and jewelry at their stations. At the end of the day, any item that is not finished is stored in a box at the corresponding employee's station. At that time, Casey says, he walks around the office—which is one of three suites in Chicago's Mallers building—and reads the tag IDs in each box to ensure that no items are missing. The tagged items in the vault are read less frequently, he notes, since they are not as vulnerable to being lost.

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