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Product Update: RFID File Tracking

Has RFID file tracking fallen by the wayside—or are companies and organizations adopting the application and reaping its benefits?
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Dec 11, 2007— Back in 2000, 3M introduced an RFID application designed to help law firms, universities and research libraries keep tabs on volumes of files. 3M said the file-tracking system would save time, reduce labor and provide a quick return on investment. Other suppliers, including FileTrail and Tagsys, began offering similar solutions. So what's happened in the past seven years? Has RFID file tracking fallen by the wayside—or are companies and organizations adopting the application and reaping its benefits?

Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, a large U.S. law firm, is using 3M's RFID file-tracking system in all seven of its offices that handle intellectual property and technology (IPT) cases. The firm is one of more than 50 end users of the 3M file-tracking system, and while the majority of those companies are law firms, the solution has also been adopted by universities and research facilities.

Before implementing the RFID file-tracking system, Fulbright & Jaworski used a bar-code system to establish a chain of custody for each file. But most attorneys and paralegals didn't take the time to scan the bar code and key in employee and location codes, so labor costs associated with searching for case files in the seven offices reached more than $1.5 million yearly. Those costs have been reduced by nearly 50 percent under the 3M system. The firm spent roughly $277,000 on the entire project, says Lisa Simpkin, project manager of the RFID implementation, and it recouped the cost in eight months. In addition, the IPT offices are now generating more revenue because attorneys are able to bill more hours.

Sughrue Mion PLLC, another firm that specializes in IP law, adopted an RFID file-tracking system in 2000, using tags and readers from Checkpoint Systems and records-management software from FileTrail. It used to take the firm more than 20 hours to complete a file inventory, but that now takes approximately five hours, says Jody Rosenburg, the firm's director of operations.

Lhermet La Bigne & Remy, a Paris-based law firm, recently ran a trial in which it tracked 10,000 files and realized a significant time savings. The firm adopted the system this summer to track its full collection of 30,000 files and books. The system was deployed by Ident, a European RFID systems integrator specializing in the tracking of documents and other media, using Tagsys tags and readers.
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