Thermo Fisher Relies on CYBRA’s RFID Tracking, Alerting System

Published: December 19, 2023

Edgefinity IoT allows Thermo to accurately track medical serum inventory in sub-zero conditions.

Thermo Fisher is using an Internet of Things (IoT) radio frequency identification (RFID) system from CYBRA to track medical serum inventory in real-time in sub-zero conditions.

At the state-of-the-art facilities in Grand Island, NY, the Thermo Fisher team focuses on cell growth and function which are vital for the creation of their fetal bovine and other animal serum.

The time-sensitive development process begins with animal blood from a wide range of animals including horse, sheep and rabbits. The facility has a quarantine zone at sub-zero temperatures—known as the quarantine cage (Q cage)—that require meticulous monitoring as the blood can be rendered unusable if exposed for a certain period of time, as well as in violation of federal guidelines.

Thermo’s Needs

Thermo Fisher required a system immediately alerting staff of any disruptions by sounding a siren, triggering a flashing light, texting and emailing as many as seventeen staff members. Officials at Thermo Fisher said they chose CYBRA’s Edgefinity IoT RFID Solution due to its ultra-precise tracking capabilities that include active and passive RFID, and real time location services (RTLS).

Shiza Khalid, Manufacturing Engineer III, Thermo Fisher, noted that other vendors proposed a 100 percent foolproof method that would have forced them to build the user interface from scratch.

CYBRA’s Solution

“With CYBRA’s Edgefinity, everything was already pre-made,” said Khalid in a press statement. “So, it’s very plug and play in a sense–we just had to map out where the anchors were going to be.”

The complexity of the warehouse space, combined with -20 Celsius temperatures, the liquid nature of the cell culture media, and the amount of metal in the area presented a range of physics challenges for RFID tracking.

CYBRA recommended ultra-wideband (UWB) hardware (tags and antennas) for precision tracking, along with special batteries to withstand the frigid temperatures. The tags are reusable and  Thermo can commission and decommission them as necessary, allowing for the RTLS tags to be reused.

Real-time Tracking

Once the system was installed, the Thermo Fisher team tracked the movement and status of inventory in real time. When inventory is moved to a different department, the data on the tag includes who handled the inventory, and when it was handled or moved.

With all location data stored within Edgefinity, users can run a history playback report, which visually shows a map of items moving during a selected timeframe.

In addition to generating sound and light alerts, the system sends text and email alerts to update staff throughout their enterprise. If an issue is identified, notifications are sent out immediately to as many staff members as needed.

Notification Range

Notifications are configured for events such as zone violation, temperature changes, unauthorized handling of inventory and low battery conditions.

“From an inventory control perspective, I think it has all the features a manufacturing company would need,” says Khalid. “It has timestamps of when was an asset is brought online. You have real-time data to see where something is at all times…there’s a heightened sense of accountability too, because whoever timestamps it also has their user account linked to it.

“It’s a complete audit trail.”

Watching Supply Chain

Additionally, Edgefinity IoT allows the Thermo Fisher team to know when they’ve received the product, when it gets released from manufacturing, and when it’s been sent to distribution.

The real-time mapping aspect of Edgefinity helps the team get an optimal view of how their operations are functioning like never before as the tag refresh rate is configurable from 50 milliseconds to over 10 seconds.

“It’s really cool to be able to be at my desk upstairs and see the movement of each tag.” says Khalid.

Expanding Uses

Thermo Fisher team plans to leverage its investment in CYBRA‘s Edgefinity in other areas of their day-to-day tasks. The team is looking to use features such as the history report tool in Edgefinity, which allows users to see patterns in their operations and identify any bottlenecks or other recurring issues.

“This project highlights what an RFID tracking product like Edgefinity IoT can do”, says John Schino, senior solutions architect at CYBRA. “It’s not just for tracking retail inventory. With Edgefinity IoT, companies can solve complex logistical challenges without having to reinvent the wheel.”

Key Takeaways:
  •  CYBRA’s Edgefinity IoT RFID Solution was chosen by Thermo Fisher chose due to its ultra-precise tracking capabilities in challenging environments.
  • Thermo Fisher team plans to leverage its investment in Edgefinity in other areas of their day-to-day tasks