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Vancouver Hotel Tracks an Olympic Quantity of Washable Items

The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel is using soft rubber RFID tags to manage sheets, uniforms and other laundered assets, reducing labor tracking inventory, lost items and the need for safety stock.
By Claire Swedberg
The information is stored in the standalone Web-based software system. When the items need to leave the hotel for laundering, they are piled in a cart that is wheeled through a doorway, where an RFID interrogator with four antennas was installed, leading to a loading dock. In a separate area of the building, employee uniforms are collected, and another reader with a single antenna was installed in a doorway to the laundry room, where those items are washed. The Impinj readers capture the ID number of every item that passes through either portal, and transmit those IDs, via a cabled connection, to the back-end system, which then stores the data, indicating the items have gone out to be laundered.

Fujitsu's WT-A511 passive UHF RFID tag
When the items return from the laundry room or the commercial cleaners, they again pass through one of the portals. The software compares their tag ID numbers with those of items sent out for laundering, thereby determining that they are being returned, and again stores that information. The hotel can then run business reports that describe, for example, how often items have been laundered, the amount of time they were gone and which did not return.

Within eight to 12 months, Atallah expects the hotel will begin to use the data to do such things as determine the number of wash cycles an item can sustain, and then input an alert system to notify employees when an item has reached the end of its life, so that it can be removed from the active textile pool.

"Long gone are the days where you have people working overnight shifts to count every sheet," Atallah states. Instead, the system takes that role in real time. "I would hope to see an ROI [return on investment] soon, but it will be difficult to measure," he adds, explaining that since the hotel just opened, it does not have a previous system against which to compare. However, he expects that the hotel will lose fewer items and decrease the amount of time its staff would otherwise spend tracking inventory, thereby saving the company money. In addition, Tulman says, the hotel will not need to store as much safety stock, thus freeing up space for other storage needs.

With the new Fujitsu tags, Tulman says, Foundation Logic is receiving requests for the system from hotels internationally. "We're making proposals all over the world," he states.

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