Tag Archives: tracking

RFID Growing Too Big for Its Britches?

RFID Growth Spurt Leads to Tech Shortages.

We’ve been talking about the growth and ROI benefits of item-level RFID, particularly in retail. 

Supply Chain Digest reports that WalMart’s new apparel tagging program has helped lead to a supply drop in RFID EPC Gen 2 inlays, and that mobile RFID readers are now also in short supply. Why so? Lots of investment in RFID initiatives, including WalMart’s recent order for 20,000 Motorola mobile RFID readers, combined with “supply constraints that have lasted for months in basic electrical components that have cause delivery problems in a wide number of high tech gear, including mobile devices.”     

In fact, Supply Chain Digest says that analysts at a major financial investment firm are predicting 300 percent market growth in RFID asset management for 2011.

Do you expect to join that growth, and invest in RFID for asset management and inventory visibility in the next year?

Read the Supply Chain Digest article.

See more about RFID printing/encoding here, where you can find resources such as our white paper “Traceability in Retail—Reducing RFID Media Costs for Best Value.”

What Does the Food Safety Enhancement Act Mean to Food Traceability?

According to the CDC, an estimated 76 million Americans get sick from food borne illness each year, more than 300,000 are hospitalized and about 5,000 die.  A recent report from Health and Human Services also found that 59 percent of the North American food facilities surveyed did not meet the FDA’s requirements to maintain records about their sources, recipients and transporters of food.

Recent recalls like spinach in 2007, tomatoes in 2008, and sprouts in 2009 and lettuce in 2010 have led to a need for more stringent food safety protocols. The Food Safety Enhancement Act, which is pending U.S. Senate approval, is a result of lawmakers and industry legislation working together to improve U.S. food safety.

Some of the notable provisions of the Food Safety Enhancement Act include:

  • The establishment of a tracing system for food that is located in the United States or is for import into the United States that enables the identification of each person who grows, produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, holds, or sells such food.
  • If a food has been manufactured, processed, packed, transported, or held under conditions that do not meet the requirements for hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls, the item will be classified as adulterated.
  • If a food it has been manufactured, processed, packed, transported, or held under conditions that do not meet performance standards, it will be deemed to be adulterated.
  • It deems a food to be adulterated if it has been grown, harvested, processed, packed, sorted, transported, or held under conditions that do not meet safety standards for raw agricultural commodities.

These provisions are important because consumers should know where their products are coming from and if they have been changed in a way that compromises their freshness. More importantly from a business reputation standpoint, they are critical to be able to track recalled products to either claim fault or clearly show that it didn’t come from a specific farm.

From a retailer perspective the use of those lot or code numbers on products could be useful in the form of grocer loyalty card to track purchases. In this instance the consumer could check their loyalty card statements to see if they purchased a recalled product.

The GS1 Databar is a good place for the industry to start as it includes Application Identifiers such as serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates.  But in addition to a traceability code, additional “quality” piece of information linked with the code identifier would tell the scanner if that product had even seen or been in an environment outside of its specification. If there is a label and scan point associated, you would be able to tell where a product was contaminated – from lot number to who worked that day, that sift and what product and what time they come in contact with it.

Traceability is vitally important to the consumer for obvious health reasons. From a grower/supplier perspective, is not only important externally for easy tracking of contaminated product by the CDC, but it is also important to accurately identify any questionable product without a disruption in the entire supply chain – which can mean lost time and money.

Student Tracking Solution Helps Keeps Students in Class

At 7:40 a.m. sharp each day, the bell sounds signaling the start of the first class at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, IL – about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. Prior to the 2009-2010 school year, students arriving late had to wait in line at the attendance office to obtain a handwritten pass before they were allowed to proceed to class.

Because of long lines in the office, a student that was 3 minutes late could end up being 30 minutes or more late for class – significantly reducing their in-class time. In 2009, school administrators and staff became increasingly frustrated with the number of students arriving late for the first block and to other classes throughout the day. At their highest, tardies would surpass 400 per day.

On a search for solutions, the school came across the PlascoTrac Student Tracking System that would move them from a handwritten to electronic approach using mobile printers and handheld scanner for better tardy tracking and discipline enforcement. The school quickly saw the benefits of an electronic solution and decided to implement.

Now, when tardy students arrive, they proceed to the attendance office or one of the mobile stations. A staff member scans their student ID card and the system prints out a tardy pass in two to three seconds.

Based on the student’s previous number of tardies, the system automatically issues a consequence based on business rules set up by the school.  From there, they proceed to class where teachers only allow them to enter late if they present a pass. From one student to the next, the solution enforces the school’s policies consistently, and quickly.

The new solution also gives Dundee-Crown a new level of accountability and enforcement that students have noticed. Since implementation, the school reduced the number of tardies by 75 percent on average – an investment of the school budget that directly gives students more in-class time.

How can people tracking lead to better performance in your organization?

You can click here to see more mobile solutions.