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Small DOD Supplier Deploys RFID, Foresees Internal Benefits

Nav-Aids, a 15-employee Canadian maker of test accessory kits for aircraft, has implemented a system enabling it to fulfill U.S. RFID mandates in-house.
By Beth Bacheldor
Nav-Aid's RFID system leverages a Sato GL4e series printer-encoder to print 4-by-6-inch labels with the necessary identifiers (including bar codes) required by the DOD. It also uses the device to encode Avery Dennison AD222 RFID inlays, which are embedded within the labels. Nav-Aids encodes each inlay with a unique serial number correlated with the product number, in accordance with the identification schema defined by the DOD mandate. Marshall says the vendors assembled the system in approximately three weeks, and helped train Nav-Aids employees at the company's facilities.

Nav-Aids staff members will print and encode the labels just before the products are shipped out. Once the labels are created, the Sato printer will interrogate each label's RFID inlay, the data from which will be fed into the Ship2Save software and shared with a back-end server. The employee will then attach the labels to the appropriate shipping containers.

Since the RFID data will be stored on Nav-Aid's server, the company will be able to use the information to automatically populate fields within advance shipping notice (ASN) forms accessed by a designated Nav-Aids employee. The worker will log in to the Wide Area Work Flow (WAWF), a Web-based paperless contracting application hosted by the DOD. Each label's serial number is associated in the application with a corresponding National Stock Number (NSN), a unique identifier used by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the DOD to distinguish different SKUs. Before the addition of the RFID system, the information was manually input into the ASNs.

For now, Nav-Aids will apply RFID labels only to shipments bound for the U.S. military, though it does supply test accessory kits to the commercial sector. During the first year, Marshall expects Nav-Aids will use just a couple hundred RFID labels. Nonetheless, he says, the company is proud of its RFID accomplishment. "I am now able to go back to all the contracting officers that I deal with across the United States Department of Defense and pledge to them that we are RFID-compliant. This is a milestone for us."

Although Marshall contends that the company is just getting its feet wet with RFID, he notes that he's already eyeing other opportunities. "I see potential here. We can use this technology for any number of in-house uses that would be beneficial to us working smarter, such as tracking assets."

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