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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

The company's Security Ranger reader is designed for wide-aisle reading at entrances up to 8 meters (26 feet) in width, using a single reader and three overhead antennas, so that items can be detected as they move through the doorway without requiring multiple readers installed on pedestals that might disrupt the exit's aesthetics and pedestrian traffic. The readers can interrogate tags even if they are partially shielded by a person's body as he or she walks through the door.

The Multi Ranger combines the three solutions into one unit. If a store measures less than 200 square meters (2,150 square feet) in size, the solution could operate with a single reader. Typically, the device would be installed at a central overhead location, where it could then read tags in the back room, at the storefront and at the entrance. Antennas would be installed around the back room and storefront, with a low-cost, short-range RFID antenna and reader installed at the point of sale, as well as several bidirectional antennas deployed at the exit. With such an installation, a retailer could utilize the company's Security Ranger software, which manages read data and prompts alerts. For the portal and wide-range functions, a third-party provider of software would be needed to manage the inventory-based data.

Sabesan Sithamparanathan
With the system in place, tags would be read as soon as they arrived in the back room. The solution would identify what had arrived and update inventory counts accordingly. The third-party software would then forward the collected data to the Multi Ranger management system, which can reside on a local server or be hosted in the cloud. As goods pass from the back room to the sales floor, the portal version of the system would identify that action and, if necessary, prompt a replenishment order.

If an individual purchased a product, the reader and antenna at the point of sale would detect that action, and the product tag could either be flagged as "sold" in the software, or be killed so that it would no longer transmit data when interrogated. The customer could then carry the tagged item through the store exit. If the product were not paid for, its tag ID would be captured and an alert would be triggered. The software can identify not only if a tag is moving out the door, but also if it is moving at all, so that stray reads of non-moving tagged items will not trigger alerts. If a store measures more than 200 square meters, Sithamparanathan says, it could opt to use two or more Space Rangers.

For retailers, Sithamparanathan explains, the ROI for this solution, when compared to that for a handheld RFID-based system, would be based on three factors. "The reduction in stock based on the inventory accuracy" is the first, he says. Since accuracy is greater in the back room and on the sales floor than it would be with a handheld reader, the store can reduce its need for redundant stock, he notes, "and it will offer a sales uplift due to the increase in on-shelf availability as well."

Moreover, the system reduces the need for manual labor, which would be required if inventory were being read via a handheld reader. Thirdly, it offers loss-prevention functionality without requiring an additional EAS tag. The solution is targeted for retailers, though PervasID's technology is also being used in the health-care and industrial markets.

"With the Multi Ranger solution," Sithamparanathan says, "we modified the hardware and software to enable the three features in a single plug-and-play system." The core reader is still the same as the original Space Ranger model, he notes, with upgrades to enable the interface between the antennas used for wide-array, portal and EAS reads. "RFID technology has been around for a long time, but the ROI has always been a challenge," he states. "We think Multi Ranger offers the solution."

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