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RFID Helps Psion Teklogix Meet SLAs

The maker of handheld computers and other mobile devices is using EPC Gen 2 RFID tags to help ensure products are repaired and returned to customers as promised.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jan 31, 2008Psion Teklogix, a company that makes mobile computers, handhelds and other devices, is utilizing passive ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID tags to help make sure its products are repaired and returned to customers as promised.

The manufacturer first began employing the tags about two years ago at its service and repair facility in France, to track devices sent in for repair from customers who had signed up for three-day service-level agreements (SLAs). Those who sign up for the service receive RFID tags (the quantity depends upon the particular service agreement) for placement in the boxes used to ship the devices to the manufacturer's repair center. When a box arrives at the center, the tag's presence alerts Psion Teklogix technicians that the device within requires a three-day turnaround. Devices lacking RFID tags are repaired less quickly, based on the order in which they are received.

Psion Teklogix uses EPC Gen 2 RFID tags, embedded in disks, to identify handheld PCs that get expedited repair service.
If the manufacturer fails to fix the unit within the three allotted days (excluding shipping time), Psion Teklogix gives the customer another RFID tag that it can use at anytime to have a device repaired or serviced in one day. The company chose to use RFID because the technology allows repair technicians to identify those devices requiring special treatment without having to manually open every box and read the enclosed return materials authorization (RMA) documents before deciding how to route the devices. By using RFID, however, workers open only those boxes prompting an alert; the unopened boxes are opened later, according to the order of arrival, when personnel are ready to service the devices within.

The RFID implementation worked so well, the company says, that Psion Teklogix quickly expanded the technology to its service and repair facilities in Hebron, Ky., and Mississauga, Ontario. Now, the manufacturer is also selling RFID tags individually, or in bundles, so customers can get their mobile PCs repaired in one day.

To use the RFID-enabled service, a customer logs into a secure Web site called Teknet, creates and prints out an RMA form and places the device and the RFID tag—which is embedded in a disk about 3.5 inches in diameter—into a shipping box, according to Dennis Castor, Psion Teklogix's director of Americas service and support. The disks, which contain an RFID tag compliant with EPC Gen 2 standard, are manufactured by JMD Etiquettes in France and are discarded once the boxes are opened, rather than being sent back to customers for reuse. However, the company notes, as volume of expedited repairs continues to increase, this policy will change.

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