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Hotel Keeps Uniform Inventory With RFID

A Buenos Aires luxury hotel is using RFID to make sure employees always have a clean, crisp uniform ready when they show up at work.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Before deploying the RFID system, the hotel would simply sew a label into each garment with the name of the employee to whom it had been issued. The agent checking in uniforms would then read the label and manually log in the return.

The system was subject to errors, however, and there was no means of alerting the staff if an employee's garments were not turned in at the end of a shift. With the new, automated system, alerts are sent to hotel workers when garments are not checked in.

In addition, the manual system did not allow the hotel to easily gather data on the number of washes to which each individual garment had been exposed during its lifetime, since the uniforms were not issued unique ID numbers. With the RFID-based system, however, the hotel has deployed software that tracks the number of washings or dry cleanings in each individual outfit's lifecycle, then sends alerts to hotel staff members when a specific uniform has been washed a pre-determined number of times. The workers then remove the garments from inventory and replace them with new ones, in order to ensure that no uniforms become thread-bear.

"The control is much better now," Menendez says, though she acknowledges that it took employees a while to trust the new system. Some, she notes, were concerned that the hotel was using the RFID tags to track their movements throughout the building, and to monitor how much time they spent on various tasks.

But the system is not designed for that purpose, Menendez asserts, nor could it be used thus, given that there are only two RFID readers in the hotel, both located within the depot. "We worked with the human resources department and posted signs explaining how the tags are used," she states. This, she adds, has quelled employee concerns.

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