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Municipalities Use RFID-based WISTAR to Take Out the Trash

The passive UHF RFID system, from SSI Schaefer and SeedSpark, is enabling several million carts to be tracked each time they are emptied or repaired.
By Claire Swedberg

At the time the container is manufactured, a unique ID number is encoded to each tag, but other data is written to it as well. When Schaeffer receives an order from a city for a specific number of RFID-tagged carts, it encodes that city's name to the memory of each cart's tag, as well as the date (for warrantee purposes) and such details as the cart's size and the stream in which it belongs (the recycle stream, for example). This information is also stored on the cloud-based WISTAR software platform.

When the containers are shipped from Schaefer's factory to a customer, a worker uses a handheld reader to interrogate the tags. The captured data is then updated in the WISTAR system to indicate that the containers are en route.

When delivering a new cart to a resident's home, a worker uses a handheld device to read the cart's tag and input the house's address.
Customers using the WISTAR system are equipped with handheld readers provided by SSI Schaeffer and SeedSpark. The company offers both Intermec (Honeywell) and Motorola (Zebra Technologies) handheld products. When delivering new carts to homes, waste-management workers use the handheld to read each cart's RFID tag and input the address where that cart has been delivered. They then upload that data on the WISTAR software, along with the date, via a cellular connection (or when they place the reader in a recharging dock at the end of the day). While they are onsite, they also write that data to the cart's tag.

Storing all of this information on the tag provides redundancy and enables staff members to access the data, whether or not they have Internet connectivity.

If there is an exception, such as visible damage to a cart, workers can input that data into the handheld reader, thereby creating a report indicating that the cart needs to be repaired or replaced.

Alternatively, if a resident calls in a request for repair or replacement of a cart, that information is received by the waste-management provider, and is then forwarded to the WISTAR software. This creates a work order that will be closed by a staff member using a handheld reader after he or she completes a repair and reads the tag on the cart, or delivers a new cart and interrogates the new tag in order to link that particular cart to the residential address.

For some customers, this system is sufficient to help them better manage their fleet of carts. The technology enables these users to know which cart belongs on which site, and when it receives any repairs. Other customers are ordering RFID readers to be mounted to trucks, in order to track each time they empty a container.

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