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Events Production Company Uses RFID to Keep Organized

Based in Germany, Joke Event employs EPC Gen 2 tags to track chairs, sound equipment, lights and thousands of other items it rents to customers for parties, corporate gatherings, shows and trade fairs.
By Rhea Wessel
Nov 24, 2008The time-sensitive events business requires a high degree of organization—missing or broken rental items can actually ruin an event, and the company running it has only one chance to get it right for its customers. To reduce the risks of such setbacks, a German company that organizes more than 1,000 events for corporations across Europe each year has RFID-tagged approximately 50,000 items it rents to clients for parties, company events, shows or trade fairs.

"We are constantly battling the clock and wondering if we have the right equipment at the right place," says Christian Seidenstuecker, CEO of Joke Event, based in Bremen. "If we mess up, we don't make any money, and we damage our image."

To ensure that the proper equipment is loaded onto the correct truck, Joke attaches an RFID tag to the top of the rear door of each of its delivery trucks.

Seidenstuecker and his company were approached by the Bremer Institut für angewandte Betriebstechnik und Arbeitswissenschaft (BIBA), an institute at the University of Bremen, about using radio frequency identification to track the rental items it stores in its warehouse, such as chairs, lounge furniture, loudspeakers and cutlery. BIBA analyzed Joke's business processes and designed an RFID system that was implemented in May 2007 at the company's 3,800-square-meter (40,900-square-foot) warehouse. The system is integrated into Joke's ERP software so project managers can inform clients immediately if, for instance, the right set of high-top tables is available for a particular event. In the past, a project manager would first have to contact the warehouse, and it would take 20 to 30 minutes to receive an answer for the customer.

Such increased warehouse visibility regarding Joke Event's inventory helps to boost the company's sales potential, but the application also has other benefits, Seidenstuecker told attendees at the RFID Journal LIVE! Europe conference, held in Prague in early November. It can also be utilized to track the use and repair status of individual items, speed up the truck-loading process, provide additional instructions for workers assembling the items at an event site, expedite billing processes by tracking the time an item was actually used by a client and allow Joke to respond quickly and flexibly if a client makes changes.

One frequent change is a last-minute request to accommodate additional guests at an event. "If more guests than expected are coming," Seidenstuecker explained, "we can quickly select additional items and create new loading lists."

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