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Global Rental Company Achieves Near-100 Percent Inventory Accuracy

An RFID solution from CoreRFID has given Lowe Rental visibility into 10,000 of its refrigeration and catering assets as the rental company expands its UHF technology use around the world.
By Claire Swedberg

The company began speaking with CoreRFID about using passive UHF RFID to accomplish data capture, but it had some reservations. "We'd heard about RFID," Lowry recalls, "but I wasn't sure it would work in this environment," based on the heavy traffic of assets through the facility and the large degree of metal present. However, testing determined that the technology could work well.

CoreRFID and Lowe chose Confidex's Ironside tags for tracking metal assets, and the firm's Tough II tags for non-metal assets. According to Munzi Ali, the company's technical director, the team tested handheld readers and opted to deploy Technology Solutions Ltd. (TSL)'s 1128 UHF RFID reader with a Bluetooth connection to an Android-based device, running an app from CoreRFID. The reader was selected as an alternative to UHF readers that required Wi-Fi communication to a back-end server, Ali says.

When a customer receives tagged items, workers use the handheld readers to capture the products' tag ID numbers and link them with the order in the Android-based device. That data is then interpreted and forwarded to Lowe's own software on its local server. Lowe's software determines if any item is missing and can display a list of the missing products.

Employees, using the handheld's Geiger counter function, can input the item they seek and then walk around the facility, reading tag IDs within about 2 meters (6.6 feet). The tags are also interrogated as items are packed on vans for delivery to rental customers, with each item linked with a particular customer and order.

A single fixed Impinj Speedway Revolution reader gantry is installed at the dock doors of its Marchington site as well. In this case, goods are moved through the gantry on forklifts or trolleys, in order to make the capture of tag IDs more automatic.

"For us," Lowry says, "the big efficiency drive has been around stock-taking and accuracy of information," and both requirements have been met. He says stock-taking, which previously took a week each year for an employee to accomplish, now only takes about two hours with a handheld reader. CoreRFID, which has undertaken installations with more than 1,000 companies worldwide for asset and production management, specializes in custom-designed solutions for uniquely challenging deployments, Ali says.

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