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RFID Helps Gem Dealers Track the Diamonds They Buy, Cut and Sell
Two jewelry wholesaler/retailers are using a passive HF system enabling them to read hundreds of tags attached to stacked envelopes in seconds.
Like Favorite Diamond, Eurostar receives rough diamonds from diamond sellers, but ships them to China to be manufactured (cut and polished). In November, bar-code and RFID solutions company Scanology provided the Magellan system and system integration, says Christof Teerlink, Eurostar's sub-manager. Until that point, Eurostar employees in Antwerp would input data about each rough diamond and assign an ID number, which was physically written on the diamond's envelope for use in tracking.
With the implementation of RFID, workers now ship the diamonds directly to the Chinese manufacturer, whose employees input data about each gem, attach an RFID tag to it and interrogate the tag, providing Eurostar with data on its own back-end management system about every stone. When the Chinese manufacturer ships the diamonds back to Antwerp, its uses a Magellan tunnel interrogator to read the tags, alerting Eurostar that the product is on its way.
Eurostar scans the tags again when the product arrives at its warehouse in Antwerp, and once more when it is shipped either to a retailer or to its own sales agents in New York or Shanghai. The New York sales office, Teerlink says, also uses a Magellan RFID reader to scan the tags when they arrive. The Shanghai sales office does not yet have a tunnel reader, but eventually will. Altogether, Eurostar uses three tunnel readers and three desktops.
"Mainly, it's a matter of time savings," says Teerlink. "I assume we save about eight hours a week in data entry. We're very happy with it."
Richard Reese, Scanology's president, says the Magellan system is the best solution for jewelry dealers because "it's extremely fast." While the tunnel reader can capture hundreds of tags in an instant, he adds, the desktop can capture about 20 at a time.
Magellan accomplishes the stackable tags' read rate by using near-field RFID with an interrogator configured specifically to read stacked tags. This, Laing claims, is the first example of stacked RFID tag reads being used successfully. That may be true, agrees University of Kansas research professor Daniel Deavours, who adds that the special configuration of the RFID reader to those PJM tags would make it possible to capture reads from multiple RFID tags stacked against each other.
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