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The Untapped Value of RFID Data

Genesis Health Systems shows how the information derived from tracking assets can be used to anticipate the need for tools and equipment, so companies can respond proactively.
By Mark Roberti
Mar 08, 2010Last week, we hosted a virtual event entitled RFID for Asset Tracking. We had 540 people pre-register for the event, and almost 270 took time out of their day to listen to five sessions over a two-hour period. Clearly, there's great interest in using radio frequency identification technologies to track assets. And that's understandable—we are good at managing things that are stationary, but not so good at tracking those that move. (If you missed the virtual event, you can watch the video of each session here.)

Asset tracking represents a low-hanging fruit for RFID projects. Deploy a system, and you'll almost certainly increase asset utilization, reduce labor costs and achieve a return on investment. Several companies that have deployed RFID asset-tracking solutions participated in the virtual event, and here are some facts that were revealed during their sessions:

Genesis Health Systems had hoped to cut the time it spent searching for medical equipment from 22 minutes to 11 minutes with RFID, but it actually decreased the time down to 2 minutes.
Northrop Grumman reduced its rental cost on one tool alone by $750,000 annually.
Wayne Memorial Hospital found it was utilizing only 60 percent of the oxygen pumps it owned, so it purchased 50 fewer than planned, thereby saving $275,000.
• One cigarette maker saves $2 million annually in manufacturing mistakes, with a system that cost just $50,000.

These facts are impressive enough, but they actually tell only part of the story. Genesis Health Systems not only employs RFID to reduce the amount of time it takes to locate assets, lower rental costs and decrease capital expenditures on new assets, but also to understand what equipment will likely be needed, and when.

"Prior to our RFID deployment, trying to forecast demand was about as effective as rolling a pair of dice," said Al Loeffelholz, the company's logistics manager. "Today, with RFID, we developed a system of custom reports, keeping accurate records of those reports and using that information to make informed decisions."

In the health-care sector, forecasting the need for equipment can be critical. Loeffelholz, and his co-presenter, Steve Montgomery, Genesis Health Systems' supervisor of logistics, described how RFID was used during a disaster response drill.

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