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RFID Tracks Clean-Room Laundry for High-Tech Companies

MSR-FSR is using an RFID system to record data regarding when, where and how clean-room garments are washed, dried and repaired.
By Claire Swedberg
May 19, 2011When MSR-FSR began offering laundry services for clean-room coveralls at its facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Hillsboro, Ore., it needed to maintain a precise account of each item coming through its two sites. By managing data regarding which items are washed or repaired—and how often that occurs—the MSR-FSR and its customers (nearby semiconductor companies) are afforded a record proving when and how the items were cleaned, as well as when they may need to be repaired or replaced. To manage that information, the firm is employing an RFID-enabled solution provided by InvoTech Systems a laundry, linen and uniform cleaning system company. The solution includes Impinj Speedway Revolution readers, AN720 and AN480 antennas from Motorola Solutions and passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags provided by Fujitsu Frontech North America.

Clean rooms are enclosed environments for manufacturing or scientific research in which the level of contamination—such as dust, airborne microbes and other particles or vapors—is closely restricted and monitored. Because street clothes may contain contaminants, clean-room workers must wear special coveralls, and sometimes aprons or smocks, all of which must be laundered according to regulated standards.

To record each step in the laundry process, a worker pushes a cartload of clean-room garments past an Impinj RFID reader.

To help track these laundering process, MSR-FSR opted to deploy an RFID-enabled solution.

"We estimate the efficiencies gained exceed 23 percent in comparison to the industry-standard bar-coding solutions," says Steve Cox, MSR-FSR's CEO for global operations. "We are now processing several thousand individual items daily, requiring a much more efficient system to track all materials through the varying processes."

InvoTech Systems' technology has traditionally been used in the hospitality and health-care markets, for cleaning uniforms, tablecloths, napkins, gloves and other reusable items, according to Jeff Welles, the company's VP. The use of such a system for clean-room garments was a new application for InvoTech, he says, since it required not only an electronic record of when an item was washed, but also how it was washed and in which machine.

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