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Texas Jewelry Retailer Scores With RFID

Dallas Gold & Silver Exchange (DGSE) is using EPC Gen 2 tags to improve the management of its inventory of jewelry, diamonds, watches, rare coins and other products.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Security
To further leverage the value of the RFID tags, EIS deployed portal readers around the entrance and exit doors at each store. Venture Research, a Plano, Texas-based systems integrator and manufacturer of RFID solutions, provided these portals, each containing large antennas wired to a Gen 2 RFID reader module, provided by ThingMagic.

The portals are set to trigger an alarm if any tag encoded with a number from the DGSE inventory list is detected. At the same time, the software automatically e-mails Goff a list of any items shown to have left the store. This helps her keep the records accurate, while also saving time later if those items are not found during daily inventory checks. The addition of the portal readers may help deter theft in the store as well.

System Architecture
Because many of the products—rings and coins, for example—are small, EIS needed to develop a tag form factor that could be added to the range of products, and that would enable customers to handle and try them those items without interference from the tag. Moreover, the tag needed to withstand high temperatures and humidity, since employees periodically steam-clean the products.

EIS and Venture Research worked together, along with an unnamed provider of RFID inlays, to develop the tag, which contains a special adhesive that can withstand the cleaning process. The inlay is protected within a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic housing. The RFID label is only slightly larger than the bar-code label that it replaced. The tag is attached to the product via what John Baker, Venture Research's president, describes as a "rat tail" from which the tag hangs. This offsets the tag from the product, preventing it from getting in the way of a customer trying that item on for size.

According to Hubbard, EIS also designed a special tray enabling the tags to hang under the rings, thereby ensuring good RFID readability, as proximity to the metal band could otherwise interfere with the RF signal.

A Strong Partnership
"Diane Goff immersed herself in this project," Hubbard states. She was part of the process from the time that EIS began working with DGSE early this year, and was keen to help determine the best tag placement on each type of product. Moreover, she helped to identify ways in which the RFID system could be employed outside of inventory management—such as using the readers to collect products for annual audits. "Having a customer who participates and has a positive outlook, and is willing to put time into a project, helps us make a successful deployment."

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