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Tagsys Unveils Smart Cabinet to Help Hospitals Manage Surgical Scrubs

The system takes inventory of available items, records which garments have been dispensed to which hospital staff and documents those returned for laundering.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jun 13, 2007Some health-care institutions are already using RFID to track surgical scrubs and other hospital linens—how many are on hand, whether they need laundering and when inventory needs to be refreshed. Now, a new product is available to make the process easier.

This week, Tagsys—headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., after relocating from France—introduced the SC400, an RFID-enabled smart cabinet for medical facilities and laundries. The cabinet leverages passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags operating at 13.56 MHz and supporting the ISO 15693 standard.

Designed to hold up to five rows of lockers and a laundry chute, each cabinet contains an RFID interrogator, as well as a PC running software that documents the cabinet's inventory. The software can be used as a stand-alone application, or linked to a central database elsewhere in the facility. Each locker and chute is equipped with a 3-D RFID antenna that reads all the tags on the garments or linens, then passes that information on to the interrogator. Button-sized and guaranteed for up to 200 wash cycles, the tags are typically sewn onto garments or into their hems or pockets.

The smart cabinet is designed to help health-care institutions control access to the linens and monitor how many can be removed. To retrieve scrubs, for example, a doctor flashes an RFID-enabled badge before an interrogator, which prompts the locker containing the appropriately sized scrubs to open. The chute antenna reads the tags if and when the scrubs brought back, documenting how long the physician used them before returning them for laundering.

"The smart cabinet really is a step for us to be able to take RFID closer to the end user. Typically, garments have been tagged and read only during actual laundering," says Maria Kaganov, Tagsys' product marketing manager. "The smart cabinet takes RFID into the medical facility, so they can track on-hand inventory at all times, and record what has been dispensed [to the hospital staff] and returned."

The SC400 is a major redesign of Tagsys' previous RFID-enabled garment dispenser, which could only be used for hanging garments. That system required much more space, Kaganov says—an entire room, in fact. The new SC400, able to hold as many as 500 garments when all five locker rows are used, measures approximately 13 feet wide by 26 inches deep.

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