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Focus on Process Leads to Profits for Rush Tracking Systems

A tight focus on process has led to profits for RFID solution provider Rush Tracking Systems, as this vendor profile shows.
Apr 30, 2009This article was originally published by RFID Update.

April 30, 2009—Many RFID solution providers help their customers locate assets and inventory, but during the economic downturn few have been as successful at locating business opportunities as Rush Tracking Systems. The Kansas City, Kansas, firm said its sales doubled last year and its four-year compound annual growth is 130 percent. The company is coy about its size -- it won't disclose actual revenues and allows only that it has between 25 and 50 employees -- but is more forthcoming about its formula for success. Rush Tracking Systems positions itself more as a business consultant than as a technology specialist, despite being a founding member of the RFID Alliance Lab at the University of Kansas, and a member of EPCglobal.

"We are equally at ease helping companies build the up-front business case as we are helping them pick the right technologies, and then developing the processes and systems," Rush Tracking Systems vice president of sales Chuck Thompson told RFID Update. "The ideal Rush Tracking customer is a manufacturer that has a lot of material moving between facilities, and they want to track that. There are just a lot of errors in most material movement processes."

Process automation -- not RFID or other technology performance or price -- is the key to systems that provide strong ROI, in Rush Tracking's view. Increasingly the processes it develops for customers use the company's VisiblEdge lift-truck mounted RFID reading system, which has been used in 60 to 70 percent of projects Rush is currently proposing or already deploying, Thompson estimates. VisiblEdge features a vehicle-mounted RFID reader to identify pallets, totes and other assets, and an optical positioning system that tracks the vehicle throughout the facility. The combination of technologies provides real-time asset visibility while leveraging legacy material handling vehicles to reduce the needed RFID infrastructure.

VisiblEdge was a major product development effort for an integration-focused firm like Rush Tracking, but the company does not try to shoehorn the product, or any particular technology, into its projects. In fact, Thompson said Rush Tracking recently told a prospect that wanted to use RFID not to, and instead to implement a bar code system because it would be more cost effective.

"We're a vendor-neutral solutions provider. We're always trying to determine what tracking technology will be best for the customer," Thompson said. "Most of the projects we do tend to involve multiple tracking technologies."

Thompson said the manufacturing market in particular is trending to multi-technology deployments, which may include passive UHF RFID, bar coding, active RFID (both standardized WiFi and UWB and other proprietary systems) and various sensors.

"A lot of the innovation that has occurred is starting to bear fruit, and people are starting to see the business value of these technologies," Thompson said. "It's the payoff of having standards-based technologies, and systems integrators who are figuring out how to bring these technologies into packaged products that are easy to deploy and provide demonstrable business value."

Even so, focusing on the manufacturing market wouldn't appear to be a formula for success in 2009. But Rush Tracking continues to grow, and first quarter sales were up 20 percent over expectations.

"It seems like there is a lot of pent-up opportunity in the market," Thompson said. "Business value is driving RFID sales right now. With RFID processes, companies can eliminate a lot of bar code scan points. It's a very expensive process for them to have someone stand there and manually scan a bar code. Our focus on identifying, quantifying and demonstrating the business value of automation is paying dividends in getting our customers to go forward with projects."
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