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Real Estate Files Found With RFID

Madison Abstract is using an EPC Gen 2 RFID system it helped design to track hundreds of client files throughout its offices.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 06, 2008Madison Abstract Inc., a title insurance and real estate company, has developed an RFID-based system that it says provides it an edge in the commercial real estate market by locating files instantaneously. The company's solution employs Concept2 Solution software and integration, as well as Motorola fixed and handheld tags and interrogators, to find files throughout its office.

The company typically works with 800 to 1,000 active files at any particular time, says William Cryan, Madison Abstract's VP and CIO. File folders filled with paper documents could be located in a variety of places throughout a 9,000-square-foot area comprising several offices. Before installing this new system, employees filled out an "out card," which they placed in the location of a file they were removing. That system had numerous shortcomings, however: The files did not always remain with that employee, the worker who last had the file might be unavailable when it was being requested, or the file itself might be left by a photocopy machine or in another office.

William Cryan
As a result, when an attorney's office needed a client's document while closing on a property, for instance, it could be left waiting as Madison Abstract's staff searched for that particular record. Cryan says he began exploring options several years ago, including document-management software, which he claims would have been too cumbersome and expensive, and bar coding, which would have required that employees remember to scan a bar-coded label attached to each folder as they moved it. The typical RFID solutions, he says, were not appropriate either, because most required active RFID tags, which were also expensive and too large for his files.

Instead, Cryan began to consider how EPC Gen 2 passive UHF tags might work. Not finding a solution available, he turned to Motorola in November 2007 and presented his idea—an EPC Gen 2 RFID system that would locate files in his office by tracking their movement from one room to the next, or through hallways.

Motorola brought in Concept2 Solution, and together they developed the solution that was installed in late January, according to Joe Franz, Concept 2's director of business development. The resulting system offers two functions: It locates files and employees wearing EPC Gen 2 RFID badges within a specific room, using three fixed-position XR440 Motorola RFID readers and 12 antennas; then, in situations in which a file is missing within a specific room, the office employs an MC9090-G RFID Motorola handheld interrogator to pinpoint the file's exact location.

Upon first creating a file, a Madison Abstract employee inputs data about the property, including the name of the real estate purchaser, as well as documents related to that purchase. This information is stored in the company's SQL database. The worker then attaches an RFID tag to the folder containing those documents, and uses an RFID interrogator to read the folder tag's unique ID number, which is linked to the in-house identification number for the file and property purchasers.

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