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ADT's Readers Control Conveyors

At Coleman's distribution center, ADT Security Services deployed a system that enables RFID readers to start and stop conveyors based on tag reads.
By Jonathan Collins
Apr 11, 2005Stressing the potential for its smart readers to take on additional functions, ADT Security Services says it recently deployed an RFID system comprised of ADT Sensormatic readers that receive input from sensors and control the movement of conveyors based on tag reads. ADT installed the system at a distribution center used by outdoor equipment and camping gear manufacturer The Coleman Company.

Serving as both systems integrator and reader supplier, ADT worked with at outdoor equipment and camping gear manufacturer The Coleman Company to resolve a specific concern the company had about RFID tagging shipments to Wal-Mart from Coleman's distribution center in Wichita, Kansas.

Randy Dunn
"They wanted to tackle a perceived quality problem in ensuring that every case was tagged with a working tag by finding cases that weren't tagged," says Randy Dunn, ADT's director of RFID sales and marketing. "Behind every business case for RFID, there is the need to reliably, accurately and quickly read tags and be able to find anomalies."

Working with Coleman from October to December last year, ADT programmed four of its Sensormatic readers and positioned them on two conveyors. One set of readers would write to tags attached to cases, while a second set would detect cases without working tags and ensure that action was taken to correctly tag the cases before they were shipped to Wal-Mart.

ADT's Sensormatic Agile 2 readers were connected to a photocell on each conveyor line. The electric eyes detect when a case is moving on a conveyor belt and then signals the RFID reader to read the RFID tag. If a tag is missing or not functioning, the reader communicates to the conveyor belt to stop. This allows a Coleman employee to remove the case or place a new working tag on the case.

According to ADT, having the capability to have readers manage operations based on the RFID read rather than in RFID middleware makes for a quicker and more efficient RFID system. "This is the kind of application that used to be performed in middleware, but network congestion could mean the real-time responses necessary would be impossible to achieve. We can push application-specific operations to our readers," says Dunn.

The Sensormatic readers, which are based on a design from ThingMagic can be managed and programmed using a browser interface and ADT's own management software, including Sensormatic's SensorID Device Commander for larger deployments. However, according to the ADT, implementations like the one at Coleman require ADT engineers to design and develop them.
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