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RFID Brings Intelligence to Texas Warehouse Roll-Up Doors

The high-speed doors were opening inadvertently to allow forklift drivers access to freezers and coolers, so the retailer operating that warehouse acquired a battery-assisted passive RFID solution from TagMaster to pinpoint a forklift's location, confirm a driver's authorization to enter, prompt the subsequent door opening and store the related data.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 10, 2019

There are multiple technologies that can manage the automation of door opening in industrial and warehouse environments, but each has its own benefits and shortcomings. Basic infrared or motion sensors identify when someone is near a door, prompting it to open, but they cannot discern who that person is. RFID, on the other hand, can uniquely identify a person or vehicle, but in some cases the read range can be difficult to tightly control.

A Texas retailer has solved its own logistical problem around managing automated roll-up doors in a heavily trafficked warehouse, using an RFID-based system from TagMaster North America and deployed by DH Pace Co. The solution employs battery-assisted passive (BAP) 2.45 GHz RFID technology to pinpoint a forklift's location within a few feet of an automated door, and to confirm whether that vehicle is authorized to enter before the door will open.

TagMaster's Ali Khaksar
The company, which has asked to remain unnamed, stores and manages a large amount of temperature-sensitive products at its Texas warehouse. The facility has dozens of freezers and coolers in which the products are stored until they can be loaded onto a vehicle for delivery to stores. The firm has been challenged, however, with controlling when those doors are opened and closed. An IR-based sensor system caused the doors to open too often, even if a vehicle might not be entering the freezer or cooler, but simply remaining in the vicinity.

That created a safety hazard for the forklift drivers, says Ali Khaksar, TagMaster's president. They could, for isntance, be distracted from their work when doors were opening and closing around them, and they might take extra steps to ensure the doors didnt open inadvertently, which meant extra driving and potential accidents. The company deployed a sensor-based system to combat the issue. With the motion detection system in place, if the sensor detected motion, it would prompt the roll-up controller to open the door. "It wasn't working according to their expectation," Khaksar recalls.

The firm considered a passive RFID solution; however, too often, the tag-read range could be so long that the door opened even when the forklift wasn't immeditately in front of the door or trying to enter. The result would be the same problem: doors opening at inappriopriate times. That also could lead to excess energy costs, since the freezer's interior temperature would rise every time the door opened. Products stored near the freezer or cooler entrance could also experience a temperature rise that could affect the product's shelf life.

Tag Master began working with DH Pace and the retailer this past spring, Khaksar says. The first challenge was to reduce the read range of the forklift tags. "They wanted to read tags within 3 or 4 feet" of the door's reader at most, he explains. That is one of the benefits of TagMaster's BAP tags, Khaksar notes, adding, "With our microwave RFID system, it's very easy to define the read zone.

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