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Single Solution Counts Inventory, Tracks Movement, Thwarts Theft

U.K technology company PervasID says its Multi Ranger is designed to accomplish all three functions with a single overhead reader in a store measuring 200 square meters or less, with antennas in the back room and storage area, and at the exit.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 06, 2018

In-store RFID technology deployments most commonly have depended on handheld readers carried by sales associates to interrogate tags for inventory counts, as well as separate systems for loss-prevention and point-of-sale (POS) capture. A higher-cost alternative involves installing readers at multiple locations throughout a store, including on the sales floor and in the back room, to achieve real-time visibility of onsite inventory, says Sabesan Sithamparanathan, the co-founder and CEO of PervasID. Both alternatives, however, are costly for retailers, he says. A solution including handhelds requires time on the part of sales personnel, while fixed readers are expensive to install.

In either case, Sithamparanathan notes, if retailers want to track tags for electronic article surveillance (EAS) or POS purposes as well, several solutions would typically be required. For that reason, PervasID has released a new offering that allows retailers to employ a single RFID reader for goods receipt, back-area storage, sales-floor purchases and EAS purposes, which the company calls the Multi Ranger. The system was announced at the RFID Journal LIVE! Europe conference and exhibition, held this week in London, England.

A typical Multi Reader deployment
The solution consists of a single PervasID UHF RFID Space Ranger reader installed in the ceiling—provided that a store measures about 150 to 200 square meters (1,615 to 2,150 square feet) in size—along with antennas deployed in the receiving, storage and sales-floor areas, as well as in doorways. For such an installation, Sithamparanathan says, the system would be priced at less than 50 percent of the cost of equivalent systems.

"We believe the new Multi Ranger, for the first time, makes RFID cost-effective for many retailers," Sithamparanathan states. The return on investment (ROI), he says, will center around reducing stock needs mark-downs, as well as achieving sales uplifts, based on more accurate inventory data, a decrease in the sales staff required to interrogate tags via handheld readers and the ability to prevent loss by identifying which item leaves the store, and when this occurs.

PervasID was founded by researchers at the University of Cambridge, with a system called the Space Ranger that offers a 99 percent-plus detection rate of UHF RFID passive tags in a wide area or room (see U.K. Startup Company Launches Wide Area EPC RFID Prototype System and PervasID Releases New Reader With 75 Percent Fewer Antennas). The reader can accomplish such a rate via the firm's patented distributed antenna system (DAS), with which the device can transmit RF signals across wide areas and identify RFID tags within a defined cell. Cells can be added to cover what Sithamparanathan says could be an infinite read area, with the addition of antennas.

Until now, the company has sold its solutions for portal or wide-array overhead reading, or for loss prevention at its retail installations. At one location, for instance, PervasID provides 100,000 tags that are read by numerous Space Ranger readers within a 4,000-square-meter (43,000-square-foot) area, and the retailer (which has asked to remain unnamed) has reportedly achieved a read accuracy higher than 99 percent.

PervasID also sells its Portal Ranger to interrogate tags as they pass through portals, such as dock doors at warehouses or stores. There, Sithamparanathan says, the Portal Ranger can capture tag IDs at nearly 100 percent accuracy, even if tags are attached to tightly packed electronics, batteries or other items that might be moving through a portal in a metal shopping cart or a roll cage, or that may be stacked on a pallet.

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