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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

The company installed several dozen LR3Pro RFID readers, one above each door, to receive the RFID transmissions. The readers have logic built into them, with embedded controls to trigger the doors to open when authorized. ACTS ESSENTIAL software captures data and triggers the door operation, and can also send information to a back-end server.

The RFID team attached TagMaster S1240 BAP 2.45 GHz outdoor-use heavy-duty tags to the front of each forklift. Each tag has a unique ID number encoded to it, which beacons continuously. The tag's ID is linked to the forklift ID in the TagMaster software. In that way, warehouse management can access the software to update authorization rules for specific vehicles to enter through a given set of doors. The authorization could be changed regularly if required—for instance, on a daily basis for a certain driver's required access to a cooler door on one day, rather than another.

"With our solution, Forklift 1, 2, 3 or 4 can be authorized to access door 2, 3, or 4," Khaksar explains. In that way, the warehouse could ensure the right product was moved to the correct bay area. As each forklift comes within a few feet of the roll-up door, the reader captures the tag's transmission and determines whether that tag is authorized to enter. If it is, the door is prompted to roll open, after which it automatically closes following a preset length of time. The system thereby reduces the risk of injury for employees, while cutting the energy cost otherwise incurred keeping the coolers or freezers at optimal temperatures.

In addition, the company can use the software to capture data about the operational efficiency of its facility workers. The software can generate reports based on that access, helping management to understand the work taking place. For instance, the software stores data indicating how often each cooler or freezer was entered, and by which vehicles; an operator could be linked to specific vehicles to provide data about the personnel who entered.

The Linux-based software can be stored on a local server but is IP-based, allowing users to access data remotely as long as there is internet service, or via an Ethernet cable. The system was taken live about a year ago, Khaksar says. "The main ROI [return on investment] was preventing accidents and increasing safety," he states, but the company is also seeing a benefit in reduced energy cost. The firm may next opt to expand the deployment to other warehouses.

TagMaster provides intelligent access-control solutions in challenging environments. Its semi-passive tags are compliant with a proprietary air-interface protocol.

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