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RFID Equipment Manufacturer Uses RFID in Its Own HQ

ITEC puts its wireless tracking solution to the test at its offices and factory in Japan, tagging components, tools, paperwork and vehicles, as well as providing RFID-enabled badges for employees and visitors.
By Claire Swedberg
To deploy the I'm Here system, ITEC installed 12 fixed interrogators at its administrative offices, and eight additional readers on racks, walls and ceilings throughout its two factory sites. In the factory, which includes two buildings totaling 141,000 square feet, the company installed cables to most of the fixed readers. But in several cases in which it was inconvenient to run a cable to an interrogator, the firm installed readers with a Wi-Fi connection. Because ITEC had installed the devices on two separate stories of both buildings, it was necessary to place metal plates behind them on the lower story's ceiling, to ensure radio waves did not penetrate the floor above.

Component vendors attach RF Code tags to cartons containing the components before shipping them. With an RF Code interrogator at ITEC's dock doors, the company has visibility into when the parts arrive. Each item's tag is read as it passes through the door, and inspectors key in their own data indicating the components have been inspected. The information is then transmitted to ITEC's back-end system via a cabled connection. The tagged cartons in which the components arrived are then returned to the vendors, refilled with new parts and shipped back to ITEC.

But the company chose to use the system for more than just verifying the receipt and inspection of components. ITEC also wanted to utilize RFID to locate employees, visitors and customers within its factory, thereby reducing the time and costs related to staff members walking around the facility searching for people. With the I'm Here system, personnel can clip one of 110 badges onto their clothing. Each badge contains an RFID tag, the unique ID number of which is linked, in ITEC's back-end system, to the name of the person to which it is assigned. With the 20 readers deployed throughout the administrative offices and plant floor, ITEC's management can track the locations of individual personnel and schedule meetings according to real-time data showing which workers are already in a conference room.

By attaching RFID tags on tools and test equipment, ITEC can also better locate these items throughout the plant floor. What's more, by viewing how often a particular tool is brought to that location, the firm can determine whether it needs to purchase more like it.

With regard to company cars, ITEC wanted greater visibility into which vehicles were available at any given time, as well as when they were removed from or returned to the lot. High usage of company cars makes it difficult to know when a specific vehicle is available. Previously, this required a physical check to confirm whether that car was in the parking lot. ITEC installed a fixed RFID reader—with a yagi directional antenna to extend read range—on the outside wall of the building, in order to monitor the parking lot.

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