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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
With the EPC Gen 2-based RFID system, warehouse employees receive an electronic work order on their Wi-Fi-enabled handheld computers, which tells them which items to pick from the shelves, and the best order for loading them. This helps other workers who have to set up the equipment at the site where the event is being held; the supplies are loaded in such a manner that enables them to be unloaded in the order in which they will be needed.

At the shelf, a worker employs a handheld to interrogate the item's tag to ensure that the proper item is picked. It is then brought to a staging area within the warehouse. Smaller goods, such as cutlery, are packed in boxes, tagged in bulk and weighed to ensure the correct number has been picked. Joke has about 50,000 untagged small items. For individually tagged items, weight is irrelevant. All items required for that particular event are placed on trolleys, which are then wheeled past one of three portal readers installed at the warehouse dock doors.

Trolleys loaded with tagged equipment are wheeled past portal readers installed at the warehouse dock doors. The system shows a green light if all of the correct goods are identified.

Motion sensors inform the system whether goods were rolled into or out of the warehouse. The system shows a green light if all of the appropriate goods are identified. An RFID tag supplied by Deister Electronic is attached to the top rear door of each of Joke's eight delivery trucks, so the same dock-door interrogators can ensure that the proper equipment is being loaded on the right truck. When Joke rents additional trucks for an event, workers use double-sided tape to attach a tag to each rented vehicle.

At the event site, staff members can use handheld computers with a built-in RFID interrogator to read each item's tag, and to retrieve additional information about, for example, how to assemble a lighting system or stage. Once the equipment is broken down following an event, employees employ the handheld devices to scan the tags on the objects headed back to the warehouse, and broken items are logged out of the system so they cannot be reserved for other events. The system is then updated regarding each item's availability. Eventually, Joke plans to record the items' repair status as well.

"We now know when a truck is headed to Bremen with three missing chairs," Seidenstuecker told the audience at RFID Journal LIVE! Europe, noting that his company may also add GPS tracking for the trucks.

In addition, the system offers an employee ID feature that tracks work time via RFID. Before starting and after finishing the loading process, employees utilize individual RFID badges instead of entering a PIN code to identify themselves.

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