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Pro-X Seeks RFID for Internal Benefits

Pro-X Pharmaceuticals, a maker of nutritional supplements, is deploying RFID to help manage production of its products and track inventory.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Mar 08, 2006Nutritional supplement producer Pro-X Pharmaceuticals is deploying radio frequency identification to help track its inventory and manage production of its products. The company hopes that by deploying RFID technology to increase visibility into its manufacturing and inventory processes, it will be able to respond better to fluctuations in demand.

"The media really drives our demand," says Ben Hosseinzadeh, chief operating officer of Roex, which owns Pro-X Pharmaceuticals. Pro-X is an independent contract manufacturer that produces Roex-brand nutritional supplements and also provides manufacturing and packaging services for other companies marketing nutritional supplements. News reports related to bird flu, for example, cause spikes in demand for natural immunity boosters. However, reports that raise questions about the safety or effectiveness of any single supplement or ingredient used in supplements could quickly curtail demand, so Pro-X needs to be able to scale its production schedules up and down quickly to maintain optimal inventory counts.

Ben Hosseinzadeh, Roex
The products the company makes are aimed at preventing and decreasing, through natural ingredients, health problems primarily associated with aging and disease. Despite its name, Pro-X Pharmaceuticals does not manufacture pharmaceuticals—though it plans to do so in the future—and because its products are nutritional supplements, they are not subject to FDA approval or oversight. Roex and Pro-X are based in Irvine, Calif.

Roex has chosen RFID systems integrator ODIN Technologies to help the company design and deploy RFID for work-in-progress manufacturing control and inventory tracking. The company is using passive, ultrahigh frequency EPC Gen 2 tags and readers and middleware provided by Shipcom Wireless.

About a year and a half ago, at the direction of Roex founder and president Rod Burreson, Hosseinzadeh started investigating RFID as a possible means of improving Pro-X's product tracking, work-in-progress manufacturing processes and product quality. Hosseinzadeh notes that Burreson encourages the use of new technology to improve operations and quality control throughout Pro-X and Roex. The RFID deployment is not motivated in any way by retailer mandates or pressure from Pro-X's distribution network. Roex sells its products directly to customers through a mail-order system. Pro-X also makes products for 232 retailers in the United States, none of which are currently using RFID for product tracking.

The designing phase of its RFID system is complete, Hosseinzadeh says. "The next step is deployment, starting in early April," he explains. "We are going into this in phases, making sure everything works and seeing what we can gain and learn at each step. It's an ongoing process."

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