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Recall Corp. Uses RFID to Recall Cartons

The document and records storage and management company introduced an RFID system to provide audit services for its customers.
By Jill Gambon
Apr 16, 2007—Until recently, it was considered out of the question for Recall Corp., a Norcross, Ga., company that provides document and records storage and management outsourcing services, to audit all the cartons of documents in its warehouses. With thousands of boxes stacked three-deep and several stories high in each warehouse, the company saw no way to manually verify the precise location of every carton with its existing bar-code inventory system. But now, thanks to an investment in radio frequency identification, the firm will be able to audit every tagged carton in an entire storage facility in just a few days. As a result, the company will start offering customers audit reports that confirm each carton's location.

A $546 million subsidiary of the Australian industrial conglomerate Brambles Group, Recall has 240 locations in 23 countries serving 78,000 customers. Its customers—public and private companies, law firms, health-care providers and government agencies—are often required to maintain records of documents to comply with increasingly complex regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Recall stores cartons of archived paper documents in its warehouses and delivers them back to its customers upon request. The company uses bar-code scanning for inventory control, but it had no way to prove the exact location of its customers' documents.


An investment in RFID is helping Recall audit every tagged carton in an entire storage facility in just a few days.

With the stricter compliance requirements, Recall was looking for a way to provide its customers audits of the archived documents to help fulfill their obligations. "This wasn't a situation of 'Gee whiz, there's a thing called RFID—how can I use it?'" says Russell Skinner, vice president of business integration for Recall. "The issue for the industry was there was no cost-effective way to do an audit." Prior to the introduction of RFID, conducting an audit would have required workers to physically move cartons to scan the bar codes on each one. This would have been error-prone, time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.

In what Recall claims is a first for the off-site document-storage industry, the company introduced RFID for tracking document cartons in February at a storage facility in Northboro, Mass. Plans are now underway to roll out RFID at the company's facilities across the United States, as well in Europe and Australia. By equipping each carton with an RFID tag, and each storage site with RFID portal and mobile interrogators, the company will be able to offer its customers a new level of assurance that its documents are secure and located where they are supposed to be, says Jon Poole, a senior quality and standards manager with Recall who has been involved with the RFID project for the past 14 months. "It's a quantum leap forward for our industry," he says.

Founded in Australia in 1977, and expanded to the United States in 1991, Recall offers not only document storage but also electronic document management, off-site tape backup, storage and data recovery services, and document destruction. Its competitors include Anacomp, Iron Mountain and Lason. Recall says it picked the Northboro site for its RFID launch because of the high concentration of medical, legal and financial services clients in the Boston area that are subject to compliance laws. The cavernous storage facility measures about 45,000 square feet, stands six stories high and can hold up to 700,000 cartons of documents.
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