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San Bernardino Human Services RFID-enables File Warehouse

The agency is consolidating its files into one large depot, and plans to use RFID to identify, store and retrieve them.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 31, 2007The San Bernardino County Department of Human Services (HS) will deploy an RFID and bar-coding system to help its staff track files and assets in its warehouse. The department intends to test the system beginning Sept. 4, and to take it live by January 2008.

Each of the department's files contains documents for a specific county resident who has received food stamps or other financial aid. Once a file becomes inactive, it remains in the agency's office for 90 days before being sent to the warehouse. Until now, the HS department has stored its 1.5 million inactive files in five warehouses in the city of San Bernardino. The agency is now in the process of consolidating those files into one large warehouse containing 10 rows of shelving measuring 160 feet in length and up to 19 feet high.

Danny Tillman
Inactive files are often needed for state hearings, or at the request of an HS agent, says Danny Tillman, the department's information services manager, and retrieving such files can be a manual and time-consuming task. Warehouse personnel search through rows of boxes for file case numbers printed on their sides. The boxes could be misfiled, or in use by someone else, making the search that much more time-consuming.

To help expedite file storage and retrieval, the department is adopting the Digital RFID Asset File Tracking (DRAFT) system, which will be implemented using integration services, hardware and system software supplied by Lowry Computer Products, in tandem with GlobeRanger's sensor-based middleware, iMotion Edgeware.

HS staff, Tillman says, will use eight RFID portal readers, two RFID label printer-encoders and six handheld units with bar-code and RFID reading capabilities. This will enable them to determine the specific box in which a file is stored, as well as the shelf on which it is located, then quickly identify it on that shelf.

As inactive files arrive at the warehouse, staff members will place seven to 15 of them into a box and affix it with a Lowry Smart Trac EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID label, encoded with an EPC number and printed with a bar-code ID number. The tag's unique RFID and bar-code numbers will be linked in the HS management system with the names of the files in that box. The box will then be shelved, and personnel can use a handheld device to capture the RFID or bar-code number of its label, and to scan the label affixed to the shelf on which it is placed, allowing them to record the box's exact location.

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