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New Chicago-area Casino Chips Its Uniforms

To streamline the management of its complicated uniform inventory process, Rivers Casino has sewn EPC RFID tags into 20,000 pieces of apparel.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 09, 2011When Rivers Casino, located in Des Plaines, Ill., held its grand opening in July 2011, it had already decided not to gamble with how to take care of its staff's wardrobe. The Chicago-area casino operates multiple restaurants and bars, as well as gaming floors, each with its own distinctive uniforms. Altogether, the company's 1,120 employees wear 20,000 apparel items, with a cumulative value of $453,000. As such, the casino reports, tracking uniforms of a dozen different styles and a range of sizes is a complex and important task.

Olga Pellecer, who is responsible for ensuring that those uniforms are cleaned and available when needed, gained experience with InvoTech Systems' RFID-based laundry-management solution while working for Trump International Hotel, in Chicago, where the technology was used to help track the use and laundry services of uniforms. The system allows Rivers Casino management to track which uniforms were issued to each employee, when they were laundered, how frequently this occurred and when they were sent out repair or replacement. With InvoTech's GIMS Uniform System, Pellecer says she knows whether uniforms are being used, being laundered or are ready for use, as well as when a staff member or an off-site repair business fails to return a garment when expected. What's more, she adds, it enables her to ensure that invoices sent by a third-party laundering company are accurate—since Rivers Casino knows exactly which garments, and how many, were laundered, as well as when this occurred.

An RFID antenna installed above each U-Pick-It door identifies the garments that workers have in their possession.

At Rivers Casino, uniforms are permanently assigned to workers based on their size and the venue in which they work. The casino thus required a solution that would enable employees to easily access their uniforms, return them for laundering and then retrieve them for a later shift. The InvoTech solution works in conjunction with two White Conveyors U-Pick-It automated garment-storage and -retrieval systems.

Two Impinj Speedway Revolution R420 readers, along with Motorola Solutions antennas, were installed at what are known as Uniform Processing Stations, used for inputting new tagged uniforms into the system, and for tracking exceptions, such as sending clothing to another location for repair. An additional bulk-reading station is installed at the laundry area, to track large bins of garments headed for the washers, as well as racks of hanging uniforms returning from the laundering process.

InvoTech Systems provided Rivers Casino with 20,000 Fujitsu Frontech North America rubber-encapsulated EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive tags that can sustain the casino's washing process, says Jeff Welles, InvoTech's VP. The tags are placed within the fabric sleeves, one of which is then sewn onto each garment. At the Uniform Processing Station, a staff member links a tag's ID number with a description of the uniform piece to which it is attached, such as its size and style. This information is then stored in the GIMS software residing on Rivers Casino's back-end system. When the uniform is assigned to a staff member, that garment's tag is again read, and the individual's name—as well as the number for a specific conveyor slot from which that employee's uniforms will be hung when not being worn—is input in the GIMS software and stored with that ID number. The casino then prints a label containing the worker's name and slot number, which it applies to the garment with heat.

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