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RFID Gathers Evidence for a Lawsuit

In a dispute involving fair-labor laws, an RFID system involving EPC Gen 2 tags and readers was temporarily set up within a factory to document how long workers remained on-site.
By Claire Swedberg
As workers arrived for their shift, Romo and Marchese requested information from each participating employee, such as his or her name, that person's job at the plant and the group in which he or she worked. That individual was then assigned a small EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag that fit in a pocket. (About 80 percent of the employees agreed to participate.) The unique ID number encoded to each tag was linked to the employee's information in the iQ3 software. The tags were then read as the individuals walked through the gate, and again as each worker punched his or her time card. Although the staff had a tendency to take the tag out and present it to the antenna, that was unnecessary, Marchese says, because the antennas would have captured the ID of the tag in each worker's pockets.

Queralt brought seven readers to the site, but the expert witness determined that two additional read points were required. Therefore, the hardware was moved several times to accomplish the supplemental reads.

When staff members punched out at the end of a shift, the tags were read twice more—once as each worker clocked out, and again as that person walked through the gate while exiting the plant. The study was conducted through four different shifts during the three-day period (the factory operates 24 hours a day).

At the end of the 72-hour period, Queralt removed the hardware, and the iQ3 software performed analytics for the expert witness. This included the amount of time between an employee's arrival and punching in, the average times for those in specific work groups or jobs, and the time spent at the end of the shift potentially performing such on-site tasks as removing protective gear after punching out.

The witness, Romo reports, says the data was more thorough than what is typically gathered via manual methods. However, he declines to provide the investigation's results.

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