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Companies Trialing NFC With Workflow-Management Application

Flowfinity is offering Near Field Communication as part of its enterprise mobile application software, so that companies can more automatically collect data about their field staff and activities at sites worldwide.
By Claire Swedberg

With NFC technology, a manager could read every staff member's NFC-tagged ID badge, thereby collecting data about who is onsite at any given time, when he or she is present and that person's experience level. If someone lacked authorization to be at the site, the system could identify that issue before the individual began working.

In the case of consumer goods companies, the system could be used by field personnel who visit stores to identify stock levels of their products on shelves. Once onsite, employees could read the NFC tags attached to displays, thereby confirming that they are at a specific location, and provide data about what needs to be replenished at that site.

NFC could also be utilized at oil and gas or construction sites. Inspectors could read NFC tags via their mobile devices to prove that they were at the proper location as they conducted inspections, and to identify each item they inspected. This would not only help an employer confirm that workers were onsite, but also provide records that could be shared with insurance companies or regulators, if necessary.

On a manufacturing line, the NFC tag-scanning functionality could help assembly workers using the Flowfinity enterprise application to confirm that all necessary parts were present on an assembled product, or whether any errors were made. What's more, NFC technology enables users to create what Mikhailov calls a mini-database for each item, such as a mechanical part that might be inspected. The details could be collected when a smartphone using a Flowfinity app interrogated an NFC tag.

By offering NFC functionality, the company intends to make its offerings more flexible for businesses that may not have much interest in technology itself. "We don't often have companies that are specifically looking for NFC technology or bar codes," Mikhailov says. Instead, they are seeking solutions to specific problems, and NFC provides another tool to solve those issues. Flowfinity can recommend NFC tags specific to a customer's use case. In some scenarios, for instance, NFC tags may be exposed to inclement weather conditions or require a specific form factor.

Several companies are presently testing the NFC tags, Mikhailov reports, and plan to migrate over time from scanning bar codes to reading NFC tag. "Right now," he says, "we're still collecting feedback from customers," though he notes that companies have thus far indicated that the NFC capability offered by Flowfinity provides them with greater flexibility.

Flowfinity has previously offered NFC-based systems for customers on a case-by-case basis.

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