NORDIC ID CUSTOMER MAGAZINE 2012-2013
CASE STUDIES RETAIL CHAINS: American Apparel Axfood Gant / Liwa Stores S Group Van Vuuren Mode ASSET TRACKING: BaaS Fabricom NLP
EDITORIAL Text: Jorma Lalla / Nordic ID Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
EDUCATION X EXPERTISE X EASY = E 3 This year’s Nordic IDea is set out to explain the three themes that we raise above others in our operation: education, expertise and easiness. When I look back at when I started this business I immediately think about an important lesson I learned: “keep it simple”. This is the key factor to our first success product presented to me by a retailer who still is a Nordic ID customer. Ever since we have tried to keep user comfort and the ease
of use as our guideline on whatever we have designed — lately to my pride even in our demo programs. This experience made me a great believer of co-design and designing as well as testing together with customers. On page 14 we talk about a long term customer who has always been willing to give us insight into how retail operates: the Finnish retail giant S Group. They have helped us to understand what EASY means from the retail point of view and we are thankful for that. To continue with the theme of easiness we chose to present two Finnish companies, who also set their goal to making it a bit easier for retailers, in this Nordic IDea: read more about Clouder.tv and Happy or Not on page 41. I want to encourage my team to learn. I want them to be the top experts in our field. For them it means stepping outside of their comfort zone sometimes and for me it means for example the School of RFID; a channel for us and our partners to share RFID knowledge and to EDUCATE others on the findings, benefits and adoption of RFID. RFID needs not be rocket science, for it certainly isn’t rocket science, it is just regular physics. We recently hosted a group of Russian IT experts on a visit to Gerry Weber, one of Europe’s best known RFID adopters. They asked Christian von Grone
Jorma Lalla, CEO, Nordic ID
of Gerry Weber to share his RFID secrets with them. He replied that the biggest secret about RFID is not the technology but it lies in the understanding of one’s operations. He was happy to share all his knowledge and experience with the group. This is what we aim to with the School of RFID. Its first input to the education is a thorough test on sealing and attenuating RFID signal – have a look on page 38. With media, smart phones and internet everywhere, don’t you sometimes feel like there is an overflow of data? How do we decide what information to consider as key and what to neglect? The answer, I believe, lies in the understanding of the ever changing business environment, the being in our customers shoes, the knowing why Parisians buy silver cars and Finns black. We at Nordic ID rely on many of our partners to present this understanding. Partners are our industry experts; they form an extension to our own EXPERTISE. This year’s Nordic IDea presents many partners and their insight in the industry. Gain insight into Swedish retail by reading about our longterm partner Cub Business Systems AB on page 20 or get excited by the new and speedy Fashion RFID implementation carried out by our Middle Eastern partner Technowave on page 26. In this magazine we present our own collection of clothes for paper dolls. We designed and engineered all that for a demo application in order to learn a bit about what it is to be a fashion retailer. This operation really has little or nothing at all to do with traditional Auto ID, but it has given us press hits and allowed us to widen our knowledge on Android platform. The good news is that we now also offer you an extension to our Nordic ID Sampo in the form of Android or Windows tablets, easily. Finally I’d like to encourage all of you to challenge us if you feel we do not keep up to our E3 promise.
SAMPO “Easy and efficient software integration”
FASHION APPLICATION DEMO
4 ARTICLE RFID: A world of opportunity 10 ARTICLE Nordic ID Sampo - in the making 14
CASE / S GROUP How one handheld turned into thousands
CASE / NLP RFID goes industry-wide
PARTNER / CUB BUSINESS SYSTEMS AB A longstanding partnership
CASE / VAN VUUREN MODE Van Vuuren Mode implements RFID
PARTNER / TECHNOWAVE Technowave hits a home run in the Persian Gulf
28 ARTICLE RFID in Fashion Retail 32
CASE / AMERICAN APPAREL American Apparel goes hi tech
34 ARTICLE Nordic ID Smart Fitting Room Demo 38
Nordic IDea 2012-2013
42 ARTICLE Are you friends with the RF Monster?
Editor-in-chief: Jorma Lalla, CEO Editor: Mirva Saarijärvi / Hanna Östman Layout: Hanna Östman
44 ARTICLE Licence to kill: RFID and privacy
Nordic ID Headquarters Myllyojankatu 2 A 24100 SALO FINLAND
48 ARTICLE Nordic ID UHF RFID Reader NUR-05W
Printed at Finepress Oy, Finland
CASE / AUSTRIAMICROSYSTEMS The secret advantages of analog circuitry
49 ARTICLE Nordic ID Sampo Demo Software N
C DIC E OLAB E OR
tel. +358 2 727 7700 fax + 358 2 727 7720 email@example.com
The views, opinions or positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of Nordic ID or any employee thereof. Nordic ID does not assume any liability or warranty for the provided information being up-to-date, accurate, complete or appropriate. All offers are without engagement. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. Nordic ID, Nordic ID Merlin, Nordic ID Morphic and Nordic ID Sampo are registered trademarks of Nordic ID Oy.
CASE / FABRICOM Fabricom implements RFID asset tracking
CASE / BAAS Plantenservice Baas Plantenservice implements Nordic ID solution
54 ARTICLE RFID: The Medical Miracle 56
CASE / VALSKYN Fish logistics made simple
CASE / HRAFN Hrafn projects feature Nordic ID
FINNISH ID Nordic ID got a new look!
PAPER DOLL COMPETITION
Nordic IDea • 3
RFID OVERVIEW Research: Sini Syrjälä / Nordic ID Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
A world of opportunity THE INGENIOUS USE OF RFID WORLDWIDE You might be tempted to think that RFID is all about logistics, stocktaking and supply chain improvements. After all, it’s likely the best technology we have as far as logistics visibility and efficiency are concerned. It’s no great surprise that RFID is spreading across business categories. The amazing part is the ingenious uses to which the technology is being put. Did you know that RFID is now helping to detect early infection in orthopaedic implants? This and many other uses of the technology are pulling us closer to the Internet of Things, in which researchers and academics foresee RFID playing a leading role. The idea behind the Internet of Things is that objects like light switches, refrigerators and cars become uniquely identifiable, with their information visible within a virtual, Internet-like structure. Things like smart light switches, for example, could be remotely controlled. Here’s how RFID helps with the task. RFID tags store information about an object, and allow more information to be added along an object’s journey. These tags will relay the information that an authorized interrogator ‘asks’ for. Add wireless sensing capabilities such as measurement of motion, temperature or oxygen saturation and you’ve got an object that can inexpensively yield many kinds of real time information from anywhere in the world. 4 • Nordic Nordic IDea IDea
It all boils down to getting better and better at tracking the things that make up civilization. In this article, we look at the types of RFID use blossoming in different business verticals and where in the world it’s taking place, starting with the medical field. BUSINESS VERTICAL: MEDICAL/ PHARMACEUTICAL RFID implementations: Finland, Spain, USA, Australia, Haiti, Colombia, UK, Nigeria, India Professor Marlin H. Mickle, PhD, Executive Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s RFID Centre of Excellence, is a big proponent and a driving force behind the Internet of Things. He thinks that nowhere is the future of virtual tracking brighter than in the medical sphere. Pharmaceutical companies are already experimenting with RFID to guard against counterfeiting and misplacing medicines, but Mickle and fellow researchers are busy putting RFID into practice in a more direct way. “Our research recently spun off a company called Ortho-tag,” says Mickle. “If there is a recall of orthopaedic implants, for example, a quick scan by your doctor will reveal if your implant forms part of the recall. RFID will also signal the early onset of infection with the help of subcutaneous sensors. Approximately 1.1% of implants result in an infection, which is low, but in the US the average cost of hospitalization in these cases is around $100.000.” Mickle also foresees medical uses of RFID that will help improve conditions in the developing world. His team is currently developing smart dressings, which include
an RFID tag, a sensor and a transmitter. “If a wound becomes infected,” he explains, “the dressing will auto-transmit so that the person can be tracked and attended to, if they have gone back to their village, for instance.” The only hurdle the team is still facing is how to integrate the system into gauze and bandages. RFID is not only helping in the area of infection. Mickle’s researchers are currently working on a water purity and safety application very relevant for the developing world. In a similar vein, patients with visual deficiencies or cognitive issues are benefitting from a pilot program in which medicines come with RFID tags integrated. An interrogator mounted in patient bathrooms uses voice technology to tell the user what the medicine is, the frequency and dosage required, and other details. Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • Intel (USA) has developed a prototype of a system that helps people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to function more normally • FBSTIB (Spain), a blood bank, uses RFID in tracking and optimizing use of frozen bags of blood • Australian Nursing Homes (Australia) is using RFID-chipped underpants to monitor the incontinence of the inhabitants. Care plans are made based on the frequencies • The municipality of Salo (Finland) has built a unit for sheltered housing that is assisted with RFID-enabled wellbeing technology solutions
BUSINESS VERTICAL: HOSPITALITY RFID implementations: Switzerland, France, Netherlands, USA, Spain The hospitality industry shares one facet with the field of medicine: both involve people management. Where one tends to their health needs, the other concerns their entertainment and enjoyment. Would you enjoy an event more if you didn’t have to worry about keeping track of your entry ticket and drink vouchers? That’s the idea that the organizers of Eurosonic Noordeslag — Europe’s premier new music festival — had in implementing RFID. A wristband with RFID tag integrated gained festivalgoers entry at many entry points at concert halls, clubs and cafés throughout the city of Groningen, Holland. The wristband reduced bottlenecks, served in the place of drink vouchers, and initiated emails sent to those who had asked for more information about certain performances. More contentious uses of RFID have also been trialled in the hospitality industry, including RFID biochips. In Barcelona, a nightclub injected RFID chips under VIP
customers’ skin. To enter the VIP area, all that patrons had to do was to wave their hands. The chip worked also as a credit card — obviating the need to search for cards or cash. Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • The Open de Saint-Omer (France) event deployed passive RFID to streamline access to VIP areas • Eurosonic Noordeslag (Netherlands) uses RFID wristbands to supervise admission to seminars and performances, and to receive beverages and gain additional information about particular programs and bands • A Swiss wine retailer and delicatessen increased sales by providing additional information to customers via RFID regarding each selection BUSINESS VERTICAL: APPAREL RFID implementations: Japan, USA, Germany, Italy, China, France, UK, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, India, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Taiwan, Austria, Finland
RFID implementations have multiplied quickly in the apparel industry, and for good reason. Fashion retailers can stock 10,000 or more distinct items on the sales floor — a potential logistical nightmare. Before the advent of RFID, the industry suffered from many business problems including the production of gray market apparel knockoffs, poor inventory management, shrinkage, inefficient distribution processes, lack of inventory visibility, double digit out-ofstocks, and more. To date, several vertically integrated retailers such as Gerry Weber have implemented RFID end-to-end — from shipping labels with RFID tags integrated to manufacturers around the world to gaining visibility into reseller processes and sales statistics — producing tremendous business results. For one major US retailer, an RFID rollout has delivered an average sales increase of 14% per store due to a reduction in out-of-stocks and higher sales staff availability. Fashion houses are also experimenting with different kinds of RFID implementations to heighten the customer experience and provide valuable feedback, from smart Nordic IDea • 5
mirrors that suggest complimentary clothing and record customer comments on clothing items, to virtual mirrors that mimic the look of clothing on the body. The trend of end-to-end RFID use is spreading quickly both across industries and within individual companies’ logistics chains. Justin Patton, Managing Director of the RFID Research Centre at the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business, has recently been busy fielding calls from companies inquiring about how best to implement RFID in Central America and Asia with respect to data capture, managing serialization and other topics. “Companies are looking into upstream applications,” says Patton. “They are manufacturing goods in developing countries and have poured investment into RFID printers and source tags there. Now that they have the tags,” he
Apparel Specialty Retail Horticultural Supply Chain Wholesale
6 • Nordic IDea
explains, “they want to put readers in place to monitor handling points throughout the supply chain.” Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • Goldwin Sportswear (Italy) has reduced grey market knockoffs through by affixing tags at point of manufacture • Sanyo Shokai ( Japan) uses RFID for warehouse and inventory management • Charles Vögele (Switzerland) has complete merchandise visibility through RFID • Roberto Verino (Spain) uses smart mirrors to enable customers to see how clothes would look before entering fitting rooms • Gant (United Arab Emirates) has rolled out the use of RFID in item-level tagging
Warehouse Hospitality Automotive Health & Pharma Grocery Retail
Laundries Field Service Transportation Libraries Manufacturing
BUSINESS VERTICAL: HORTICULTURE RFID implementations: Netherlands, USA, Germany RFID use in the field of horticulture is just beginning to blossom. There are a number of companies in the industry, like the Netherlands’ BAAS Plantenservice, that have implemented RFID for logistics purposes. At the height of the season, BAAS has more than 100 trucks per hour coming and going from its distribution centres. RFID has had a major impact in untangling logistics there, greatly increasing efficiency. In addition, many of BAAS’ major growers have joined an RFID pilot that greatly improves visibility into shipment timing and specifics. But it’s those using RFID in novel ways
www.nordicid.com that capture the imagination. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has implemented wireless sensing that many believe to be the next evolution of RFID, at Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. The sensors automatically start sprinklers in dry areas, optimizing the use of precious water as well as plant health. Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • FloraHolland (Netherlands) supervises flower storage with RFID • Huntington Botanical Gardens (USA) is using RFID to auto-start sprinklers in dry areas • Michigan State University’s 4-H Children’s Garden (USA) teaches children about plants by giving each child a “Personal Science Assistant” (an RFID reader) that the child uses to read plant labels and gain information about plants. This includes pictures of plant parts and plant uses • BAAS Plantenservice (Netherlands) receives all the information about their product movements BUSINESS VERTICAL: LARGE SCALE SUPPLY CHAIN LOGISTICS RFID implementations: Denmark, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Denmark, Spain, USA, South Africa Supply chain logistics cuts across many business verticals, but this section deals with logistics on a massive scale: things like tracking millions of carts and pallets, and adding visibility to a national postal service. In a bid to improve service accuracy and usher in a new level of efficiency, Saudi Post has outfitted each of 10 million mailboxes across the Kingdom with an RFID tag. Postal workers use mobile RFID computers to identify mailboxes before inserting letters. After letters go in, they are read once more so that the national mail service can verify delivery. Handhelds are also equipped with GPS and wireless communication capability so that managers can track postal carriers and deliveries. Enabling postal processes with RFID is an intuitive move, but another massive implementation involves an industry that often escapes public attention: waste and recycling. Charleston County, South
Carolina has more than doubled recycling participation with the help of waste management solution provider Sonrai Systems. RFID tags on trucks and containers have also helped with truck route management, but the big news is the effectiveness of RFID in getting more waste out of trashcans and into recycling containers. The success of the program hinged on getting the data needed to validate the benefits associated with a shift from curb-sorted, manual bin collection to a wheeled cart program. ”We worked closely with Sonrai to refine the RFID-based system,” explains Justin Patton of the University of Arkansas’ RFID Research Centre. “It’s been a great success and since then the program has been duplicated in upwards of 30 US cities.” Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • Container Centralen (Denmark) installed 150 RFID readers at plant nurseries, greenhouses and fields in order to track millions of metal carts • Saudi Post (Saudi Arabia) has tagged the mail boxes of homes across the whole country to ensure accurate delivery • Deutsche Post DHL (Germany) lowered fuel consumption with RFID-enabled delivery vans • Procter & Gamble (Spain) has sped truck loading with RFID-labelled pallets
3 pcs PLATE Yellow ‘a 7.99€ 5 pcs GLASS Yellow á 5.99€
to avoid bottlenecks at loading docks • Air Canada (Canada) is tracking the food carts it uses at airports BUSINESS VERTICAL: AUTOMOTIVE RFID implementations: Norway, USA, Canada, Brazil, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Finland, Germany Almost as daunting as managing postal delivery is managing the flow of thousands of parts that keep massive 24-hour assembly lines running. When Toyota and General Motors opened new joint production facilities in Livermore, California, the ante went up for Johnson Controls. Johnson supplies interior components for many of the biggest auto manufacturers in the US, and for this new production facility they faced the challenge of supplying 1,500 car seats per day in the exact order that they were required. If any of the dozens of deliveries made each day had a single seat out of sequence, entire production lines could come to a halt. Johnson Controls found that RFID held many advantages over clipboards or even barcodes: no line-of-sight reading required, dirty labels were not a factor in reading— in fact, tags were encased in hard plastic for protection. The result? Not only did accuracy climb to 99.9%, but the company found that introducing RFID into their environment spawned other efficiencies as well. Nordic IDea • 7
Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • A Norwegian car window manufacturer tracks all deliveries since it promises to deliver within Norway in 24 hours • Johnson Controls (USA) tracks all spare parts it delivers to 3 large car manufacturers in order to provide justin-time production BUSINESS VERTICAL: GROCERY
is receiving only tagged items from its suppliers • NLP (Norway) is using RFID to track and manage plastic boxes and pallets, in use throughout the Norwegian grocery retail ecosystem • Auchan (France) handles and tracks plastic boxes • X5 (Russia) is launching a Store of the Future BUSINESS VERTICAL: LAUNDRIES
RFID implementations: France, Germany, UK, Canada, India, Japan, Norway, Russia, New Zealand, Sweden, Spain Following Wal-Mart’s early lead, grocery retailers in record numbers are jumping into RFID to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce out-of-stocks. Many have also begun automating checkout processes to reduce or eliminate queues. Perhaps the most interesting uses in trial today, however, are those surrounding freshness, temperature and encouraging customers to buy more.
RFID implementations: Canada, France, UK, Norway, Australia
The automated solution, built in close collaboration with Nordic ID, allows management to set up notification parameters or look at real time readings in any way that they wish. Instead of relying on service engineers to fix problems as they arise, with little visibility into the overall performance of the units, managers can manipulate statistical information to see for themselves whether a unit is malfunctioning and engage the manufacturer to correct the problem.
Using RFID to improve laundry logistics is not a new concept, but a new Vancouver hotel is using RFID tracking of 25,000 high-value linens to achieve other goals as well. Aside from logistical improvements, the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel Canada has two other main objectives: reducing the storage space needed for linens through intimate knowledge of their whereabouts, and tracking linen lifecycles to inform future procurement choices. Soft rubber tags embossed with the hotel’s logo and capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 200 degrees Celsius can be read from up to 1.8 metres away, making tracking fail-proof. Another spin on the laundry model comes from Disney, whose 100 million dollars’ worth of theme park and cruise ship costumes now carry RFID identification. Workers can simply locate an outfit, bring it to self-service kiosk, present their ID badge and take it away. The entertainment juggernaut has found that RFID speeds costume retrieval, improves visibility of items through laundering and repair, and has cut the time required for inventory checks from an average of 180 hours to two, while increasing accuracy from 90 to almost 100%. The surprise bonus, however, was that it has also been a factor in increased job satisfaction.
An analogous use of RFID that industry experts see just around the corner is the use of tags to monitor the freshness of meats and produce, including ambient temperature over time, duration of shelf time, and other factors. Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • Wal-Mart (USA) started with tracking the pallets and boxes; now the company
Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • Canadian Linen and Uniform Service (Canada) uses RFID tags to help the customers to drop the garment into a right laundry bin as well as in replacing the manual sorting of soiled items • The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel Canada uses RFID tags to manage the inventory of 10,000 employee uniforms and 25,000
A.F. Blakemore & Son Ltd, part of SPAR UK, instituted a program to monitor fluctuations in refrigerator, freezer and hotplate equipment temperatures. The goal of the pilot was to ascertain whether the temperature in any refrigeration unit falls outside of new parameters set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
8 • Nordic IDea
bathrobes, towels, sheets and other linens • YMCA (France) is monitoring work outfits in laundry. BUSINESS VERTICAL: TRANSPORTATION RFID implementations: Finland, Singapore, Kuwait, Malaysia, India, Argentina The most common applications for RFID in transportation are logistical control of vehicles, such as truck chassis, and automating highway toll processes. The 407 Electronic Toll Route (ETR) near Toronto, Canada is one such implementation. Cars and trucks that use the highway regularly carry active RFID tags that send a signal to interrogators as vehicles enter or exit the highways. Billing is handled electronically, and motorists never have to slow to pay a toll. Similar systems exist in Argentina and, as of quite recently, Panchkula in India. More novel uses of RFID in the transport sector include allocation of parking and vehicle tracking through RFID-based mesh networking. The US Army is experimenting with the alternative RFID technology at a military base in Kuwait, where military vehicles used in Iraq must be thoroughly cleaned and inspected before being shipped home. Each active RFID tag transmits its unique ID number along with the US Department of Defense (DoD) vehicle tracking number, passing information from tag to tag until it is received by a fixed mesh gateway. Tag data and location are then processed by middleware before being integrated into the DoD’s database. In this way, data is constantly being fed into the system in real time. At 6,500 units, this is believed to be the largest mesh deployment ever, and represents a great advance over a traditional RFID setup, where vehicle status would only be ‘on the radar’ when they pass through a portal or are manually interrogated. Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency (Kuwait) is installing active meshnetworking tags • Panchkula, Haryana (India) has introduced RFID-based toll plazas on freeways
BUSINESS VERTICAL: LIBRARIES & ARCHIVES RFID implementations: Finland, India, UK, USA, China, France
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If you have ever needed help in finding something at the library, you will appreciate this RFID application. Imagine using a mobile computer with Geiger counter technology to help you find the book you were looking for. That is part of a grand plan for the Finnish National Library in Helsinki. The library is taking part in the development of an international standard data model for the use of RFID in libraries — something that will encourage the adoption of a common system for use worldwide. The logistical benefits of RFID in libraries are self-evident, and they extend to a similar domain, that of public and private archives. Tagged shelves can facilitate retrieval, and tagged items can be found more easily. Entire databases of archived items can be monitored thanks to RFID technology, and item security gets an immediate boost thanks to longer reading distances at strategic locations. Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • Finnish National Library (Finland) BUSINESS VERTICAL: FIELD SERVICE RFID implementations: Kuwait, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, USA, Canada, Argentina, Saudi Arabia When you need to send people to perform maintenance or check the status of a system or object, RFID can help. Not only will maintenance personnel be able to file reports electronically and on-site, but you can also be more certain that inspection or maintenance actually took place. Frankfurt Airport is a good example of RFID-enabled field service, as it has adopted RFID to monitor inspections of fire safety equipment for that very reason. The company that runs the airport, Fraport, attached passive RFID tags to the fire shutters in its air-conditioning and heating ducts. These ducts must close in the event of a fire to limit the spread of fire and smoke, and their maintenance is federally mandated.
Before the RFID installation, maintenance engineers were given paper forms and maps of the shutter locations. They had to fill out reports by hand and submit them back at the office for input into the company’s ERP system. Now they are equipped with handheld RFID computers to identify each shutter and document all inspections, repairs and maintenance work. As one administrator noted, you can fill out paperwork anywhere, but you can only interrogate an RFID tag within close proximity. The new system worked so well that Fraport added 80,000 fire doors, emergency lights and smoke detectors to the 50,000 shutters already tagged. RFID is now an indispensable part of the airport’s operations, bringing efficiency and greater accuracy to its safety infrastructure. Sample uses of RFID in this category worldwide: • Frankfurt Airport (Germany) uses RFID to confirm the proper inspections of safety equipment • Schiphol Airport (the Netherlands) tags luggage to speed up handling and to ensure that travellers and luggage wind up in the same plane • The Impivaara swimming hall in Turku (Finland) uses RFID wristbands to enable customers to enter dressing rooms and use lockers
A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY This survey of industries and processes provides some insight into the diverse ways in which RFID is being put to use worldwide. The horizons for the technology are expanding quickly, not only within their core use in logistics improvements, but also in optimizing many kinds of detection, tracking and processes in areas as diverse as patient care and customer experience. Justin Patton, Managing Director of the University of Arkansas’ RFID Research Center, believes that the benefits of the technology await every industry in the world, but he has identified one challenge common to us all: “There’s a river of tags out there,” he says. “It’s not hard to collect information from those tags, and you’re looking at about 100% accuracy. But it is difficult to figure out how to leverage it. It can be simple, but not for someone without experience in the area.” Our great hope for technology has always been that it would make life easier and better for humanity. As we get closer to the concept of the Internet of Things becoming a reality, it is becoming apparent that the professionals working in RFID are truly moving us in that direction.
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FINALLY… A FIXED RFID READER BUILT TO MOBILE COMPUTER STANDARDS In some industries, stock-outs are one of the biggest threats to profits. But keeping a full range of items on the shelves — especially in the fashion industry, where the number of SKUs is multiplied by colour and size variations — is tricky business.
8 ••Nordic 10 NordicIDea IDea
That’s where the newest Nordic ID device comes into play. One of the main uses of the Nordic ID Sampo family of fixed RFID readers is to keep all sizes and colours on store shelves by connecting to POS systems and adding to restocking lists as items are sold. The information can then be sent further to ensure on-time replenishments. Together with our mobile computers, the Nordic ID Sampo forms a complete RFID solution for retail purposes and
similar business models such as libraries and archives. It’s a sleek, easy-to-use and mountable RFID reader for interactive read/write applications. Janne Mäkeläinen, Product Manager with Nordic ID, is enthusiastic about the market response to date. “What we’ve come up with,” he explains, “is a device that’s really easy to set up and use, has better features than others in the market and is competitively priced.”
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID & Juha Norokytö
Nordic ID Sampo can be placed on or mounted under a counter or shelf, installed in the ceiling or on a wall to serve in-store data collection needs. Whether it’s recording product information at entrances and fitting rooms, registering shelf content or sending inventory information on from point of purchase to the warehouse, Nordic ID Sampo is a valuable complement to mobile RFID computers. Combining Nordic ID Sampo fixed RFID readers with mobile computers such as the Nordic ID Morphic and Nordic ID Merlin can achieve faster and more accurate inventory levels. CLASS-LEADING PERFORMANCE & FEATURES One of the secrets to its effectiveness — and the biggest design challenges — is the device’s circular polarized antenna. “The Nordic ID Sampo has serious performance for such a small unit,” says Sami Ruotsalainen, Lead Hardware Engineer at Nordic ID. “The circular antenna was a particularly difficult component to develop because it had to be as compact as possible in order to fit amongst the other parts” Because it’s a high gain antenna, it has a focused, narrow radio wave beam width to allow precise targeting of radio signals.
with that of competitive devices many times its price. To great performance, Nordic ID has added a host of useful features likely to set a new industry standard. For one, Nordic ID Sampo has built-in pressure sensitivity, allowing it to be configured
to start working when it’s tapped. It also has a light sensitivity feature: when a product is brought on top of the reader, thus changing the ambient light, the sensor is activated and the reading begins. Both features help to keep the airwaves clear, as reading only occurs when needed.
A direct product of the powerful antenna working in tandem with the RFID reader built by Nordic ID, the unit is very quick reading — up to 250 tags per second — with high power output. Nordic ID Sampo can read tags from up to eight metres away, and power can be dialed down to just a few centimeters. The device’s performance is commensurate
HEALTH & PHARMA
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SIMPLE SETUP, CUSTOM PROGRAMMING On the software side of things, Nordic ID engineers faced two challenges. One was to develop demo software accessible both to developers and to store managers, employees and others with few technical skills. The result? User-friendly demo software that installs on any PC to quickly familiarize users with the device. The design is intuitive and getting into technical depth is simply a matter of drilling down within one easy-to-use control panel. 12 • Nordic IDea
The other software-specific challenge involved with the development of Nordic ID Sampo was making software easy for third parties to custom program. Thanks to a well-developed and modular application programming interface (API) and very detailed documentation, custom applications created in pure C, C++, C# and Java are simple to integrate.
written in highly optimized C, for interpreted languages. There’s just a small integrated layer creating an interface for the native API library.” The net effect? Speed. “Required CPU time is really low,” says Lähteenmäki. “And the faster the processing, the faster the communication, the faster the reading.”
According to Mikko Lähteenmäki, Lead Software Engineer at Nordic ID, it was a trial and error process. “There was a lot of experimentation, finding the best and fastest way,” he says. “The API we ended up with is completely
The API runs off an RFID module that Nordic ID developed, the Nordic ID UHF RFID reader NUR-05W. It’s the same RFID reader used in the company’s newer mobile computer units.
NORDIC ID INSIDE
NORDIC ID SAMPO S1 • High performance UHF RFID reader / writer • Trigger sensors • Adjustable reading range • Autosensing inventory parameter possibility
• Fast and easy software integration • Flat and elegant design • Powered by USB, Ethernet (optional) or external power supply • 2 years warranty
UHF RFID Supported standard
ISO 18000-6C (EPC Class 1 Gen 2)
ETSI 865.6 - 867.6 MHz MHz or FCC/IC 902 - 928 MHz Built-in region support for Japan, Malaysia, China, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia. Others can be customized via NUR API
Internal antenna: +30dBm (1W) ERP. Antenna ports: +27 dBm (500 mW). Output power adjustable in 1 dB steps
Typical reading distance
5 m (16 ft)
8 dBic circular polarized antenna Beam width: 80°
Typical reading speed
150 tags / sec
External antenna port
3 pcs. 50 Ω / SMA (optional)
USER INTERFACE Signals and indicators
Power LED RFID on LED RFID read LED Communication LED Buzzer: Tag reader Triggers: light sensor, tapping sensor
In addition to the many technical benefits of the NUR RFID reader module, it also makes life easy for custom software developers. They can build one custom application and compile it from the source code both in mobile computers and fixed RFID readers. “Having one set of software power all RFID devices is a distinct advantage for the end user,” says Mäkeläinen. “By offering a complete solution for retail and similar applications, we hope to garner an even greater response for our devices than we already enjoy.”
Bus powered USB 2.0 device (appears as a serial port)
POWER External Power Supply
USB or PoE (optional) or 240/110 V AC/DC adapter
USB only version: 3 W, PoE version: 6 W (RF-Power 500 mW)
SIZE AND WEIGHT Dimensions
(W) 200 x (L) 260 x (H) 25 mm ((W) 7.9 x (L) 10.2 x (H) 1.0 inch)
540 g (19.0 oz)
ENVIRONMENT Operating Temperature
UHF RFID circular antenna
USB & ETHERNET
-20 °C to 55 °C (-4 to 130 °F)
POWER via USB, Ethernet or power cable
TRIGGERS light sensor tapping sensor
Nordic IDea • 13
HOW ONE HANDHELD TURNED INTO THOUSANDS - the story about RF600 handhelds in S Group outlets
Spring 2000: An eagerly awaited demonstration of Nordic ID handheld terminals is about to take place in the brand-new Prisma Jumbo in Vantaa. But the people from Nordic ID are quite taken aback by the dimensions of the store that seem to be never ending – how will the radio signal be able to cover the whole area?
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Text: Linda Hägerstrand-Immonen / ID BBN Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID & Juha Norokytö
was just about to leave, when one of our engineers was still soldering the last displays to the units. Two other engineers were already waiting eagerly by the door with their coats on, ready to run. Luckily they caught the bus in time, which was the first step towards a blossoming cooperation with S Group.
A few months before, in 1999, news about the S Group looking for handhelds reached Nordic ID. When a meeting between the two companies was arranged, the situation was challenging for Nordic ID, since competing firms had already presented their products. On top of all, the S Group was also close to choosing a WLAN solution. Luckily Nordic ID CEO Jorma Lalla could mention Tradeka as a reference from the retail business, and managed to convince the S Group IT managers of the RF500 assets. When S Group said they wanted the same device but with a larger display, Nordic ID produced one in only 3 months. This kind of flexibility and meeting of the customers’ needs was appreciated by Timo Nieminen, the IT manager of SOK Grocery Trade Management.
But now, back to the demonstration. Although Nordic ID had connected several base stations to the system, in lab conditions it had not yet been tried in practice. To everyone’s relief the demo in Prisma Jumbo went well, and after some fine-tuning and adjustments Nordic ID soon started supplying new RF600 handhelds to other Prisma stores as well. SW Designer Ari Pöyhönen recalls the early days of the RF600 series:
“Stories along the way: On the day of a challenging, but crucial delivery deadline of RF600s with larger displays, the last bus to Helsinki
- I knew we were moving in the right direction with the software tools, when the Fujitsu programmer who developed the background application for the
RF600 said it was ”a pleasant task to develop software for Nordic ID handhelds”. WORKS EQUALLY WELL WITH FOOD, CLOTHES AND MACHINES So what were the most important reasons for choosing Nordic ID as handheld terminal supplier for S Group? - The company offered a simple enough device, says Timo Nieminen. In order to answer the needs of the S Group, the handheld needed to be ergonomic, easy to use even single-handed, reliable and not have too many keys. With hindsight, the S Group’s choice seems to have been right. The personnel has been pleased with the RF600 devices and today, after more than 10 years, the same series with some modifications and variations is used in more than 1000 outlets throughout
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Finland. These outlets are part of SOK grocery chains Prisma, S-market, Alepa and Sale, ABC service station shops and consumer goods chains like Sokos, Terra and Emotion.
“Stories along the way: One of Nordic ID service team’s favorite stories involves a Piccolink RF600 unit, which was returned for repair with the message “Broken because unit was used to hit a thief in the head.” It gave the team such a laugh that the unit was repaired free of charge. Unfortunately the story does not tell what happened to the thief. ” FOR WHAT FUNCTIONS DO THE RF600 DEVICES FIT ESPECIALLY WELL? - The most important is order support functions. With the Piccolink or ”Piccolo” as we call it, the salesperson can check
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the situation of the stock and keep the order backlog upto-date, explains Nieminen. The other main function is the use of centralized and jointly used systems. Through the centralized S Group warehouse system in Helsinki, a sales person in another city can easily check product quantities in his or her own store and find out when more products will be delivered. The RF600 series device is also used for label requests, price updates, magazine returns, inventory, etc. The handheld terminal saves the S Group staff a lot of valuable time. Nieminen gives a hands-on example: the process of writing down the information of 10 000 products with pen on paper during inventory and then copying it all to a computer, is very exhausting. With the help of handheld terminals, the number of items is directly entered to the stock
account system, and the POS (Point of Sale) system doesn’t have to be closed, either. Every-day work tasks are also made easier. Information is at hand where needed, so one doesn’t have to checkin on the office computer or walk to the warehouse to see product details or real-time warehouse data. At the same time the customers are happier as well, as the salesperson can answer their questions at once.
“Stories along the way: Recently Nordic ID received a call from the local Waste Recycling company: They had found a fully functional unit in their paper collection round. With a little detective work, Nordic ID found out that the device had been delivered to S Group’s service partner who was able to trace the unit down to a Finnish West Coast town’s local S Market. The unit was returned to service. ”
FORGET HEAVYWEIGHT – LET’S GO FOR LIGHT AND EASY INSTEAD Jorma Lalla points out that the market of wireless handheld devices was in its infancy in year 2000, when the S Group made its first order. Most of the devices on the market were complicated to use, had lots of buttons, had the operating system and application program integrated and weighed as much as 1 kg. Nordic ID challenged this consensus with a simple-to-use device with as few keys as possible, fitting any hand, weighing only 200 g and being turquoise as opposed to all somber, dark-coloured devices. All of the software ran on the host system and not unimportantly – the RF600 was also inexpensive. Back then, the Nordic ID concept differed from all the competitors, but even today these features make the device a competitive package.
- As Nordic ID handhelds use a closed radio network created by the company, it’s also very safe, says Nieminen. Lalla adds that the data security of the WLAN network, used by many other devices, can be pretty weak. Since being a well-known network, it has to deal with many security threats. The discussion with Lalla and Nieminen gives the impression of two companies very much in tune with each other. What are your opinions on the co-operation between Nordic ID and the S Group? - The dialogue has always been very good. Today it is not only about ordering and delivering, but about companionship, says Lalla.
- Otherwise we wouldn’t have co-operated for over 10 years, Nieminen finishes.
S GROUP S Group is a Finnish network of retail and service trade companies, with a market share exceeding 45 % in grocery trade. The group consists of cooperatives, SOK (Suomen Osuuskauppojen Keskuskunta) and its subsidiaries.
Nordic IDea • 17
RFID CASE STUDY www.nlpool.no
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
RFID GOES INDUSTRY-WIDE Norwegian food industry implementation - a world first When millions of assets are constantly on the move between hundreds of partners, implementing RFID tracking will create efficiencies. This was the conclusion reached last year by Norsk Lastbærer Pool AS (NLP), an organization established by Norwegian food industry retailers and manufacturers.
TARGET: BOOSTING EFFICIENCY, REDUCING COST Since 2006, NLP has overseen a nationwide pool system of pallets used by different parties within the industry. Until the current RFID pilot began, managing pallet logistics was largely a paper-based task. Logistics visibility was low and efficiency could be improved. With a pilot currently under way, NLP is hoping to increase process efficiency and reap concomitant cost savings for all partners. All told, NLP has quite a list of program expectations:
portals will cost our customers one fifth of what they are now spending on manual reporting routines and to cover shrinkage, on average,” says Tom Romanich, Business Development at NLP. “All other efficiencies — reduced pallet costs, better logistics, et cetera et cetera — are in addition to that.” The real efficiency that NLP hopes to realise is reduced shrinkage. A loss of just one percent represents a total cost of at least 10 million Norwegian Kroner (NOK) per year for NLP customers.
identifying data. NLP can add information to tags such as the contents of each pallet, the receiver’s global location number (GLN) and the serial shipping container code (SSCC) through GS1’s electronic product code (EPC) Global EPCIS standard. Each tag contains a simple unique identifier in the form of an electronic product code (EPC) that all parties can use for goods in and goods out. EPCs can be saved in distributed or centrally placed databases to secure future traceability.
MORE PARTICIPATION DELIVERS BETTER INFORMATION
Pilot participants are equipped with RFID reading portals at each dock, as well as Nordic ID Merlin and Nordic ID Morphic UHF RFID mobile computers for reading and (especially) writing the tags.
More efficient logistics More internal efficiency Lower pallet costs Lower RFID costs Efficient tracking of groceries Better shrinkage control Standardised use of RFID throughout the industry
The way that NLP works is straightforward. One of ten NLP operating stations sends pallets to food suppliers, who ship pallets of food to wholesalers. Custom-packed pallets are delivered from wholesalers to retailers, and empty pallets are picked up at retail. These are then trucked from wholesalers back to NLP.
In the end, the potential payoff could be huge. “Installing and maintaining RFID
With the new RFID implementation, every pallet has four identical tags carrying unique
• • • • • • •
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The way the system works, the more of NLP partners’ 800 locations have RFID reading capability, the higher the quality of the information and the more visibility there will be into pallet movement. At the moment just a few companies are participating in the pilot, including snack-food powerhouse Maarud and meat processor Finsbråten,
as well as at two distribution centers for the Coop retail chain, but Romanich feels optimistic about future participation. “The benefits are tremendous,” he says. “We predict that the system will pay for itself in less than a year.” AN ALL-STAR TEAM After comprehensive evaluation, NLP chose HRAFN, Scandinavia’s leading RFID systems designer and architect, to lead the project. Lexit Group Norway is handling the hardware and the installation, together with a small select group of partners to link data from read events to the EPCIS software and Nordic ID for RFID mobile computers. WORKING OUT THE KINKS The NLP implementation is the first of its kind in the world of RFID. The ambition is not simply to read boxes full of tagged items, or even entire pallets, but everything
that a trailer holds. Such an ambitious implementation will take some time to perfect. “When a forklift scoots through the portal from truck to warehouse, the system is capable of reading up to 300 pallet tags at ordinary speeds,” says Romanich. “But some loads contain over 400 pallets. We’ve installed a stoplight to force drivers to stop for two seconds and ensure that all tags are being read.” Reading speed is only an obstacle for NLP facilities and wholesalers where empty pallets are picked up and delivered, as retail locations need only read a handful of tags at a time. Romanich adds that the partners involved in the implementation are currently busy scouring the globe for components that will improve system performance. “There are zero problems with Nordic ID devices, but portal readers are not quick enough in filtering out unqualified signals. Lexit is just
now importing a special antenna from New Zealand that looks very promising.” Lexit is heavily invested in perfecting the portal system, as it plans to market it as a turnkey system outside of the food industry. A DOUBLE BENEFIT While NLP is deploying RFID to gain visibility that will improve its own value chain and reduce member costs, the information is also available to customers to create efficiencies of their own. “That’s the wonderful thing about moving to RFID,” observes Romanich. “Once you have it installed, you can extend it to internal processes and improve a huge number of operational metrics, whether you’re a wholesaler, a manufacturer or a retailer.”
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CUB BUSINESS SYSTEMS AB AND NORDIC ID: FROM COMPETITORS TO COLLEAGUES Cub Business Systems AB is one of Scandinavia’s leading Auto-ID solutions integrators. The company, which is located in Stockholm and Gothenburg, specializes in inventory processes, order picking and handling, logistics movement, material orders and product tagging. Today Cub Business Systems AB does a good deal of business with Nordic ID, but at one time the two companies were rivals. Both manufactured handheld scanners and RFID computers, and both vied for the same market share in Sweden. “In 2006 we were in discussions about producing a new handheld
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computer in cooperation,” remembers Urban Engström, Marketing Manager with Cub Business Systems AB. “At the time we were competing for the same business. But even then we at Cub Business Systems AB were already beginning to focus more closely on system integration and delivering complete solutions to customers.” While Cub Business Systems AB did provide input on the development of mobile computers that later resulted in the Nordic ID Morphic, they followed the path of integration and left the manufacturing to Nordic ID.
IT’S ABOUT TRUST In an industry where information is closely guarded, Nordic ID and Cub Business Systems AB enjoy the business advantages that come with being able to rely on each other. “There are typically three steps between the manufacturer and the end user including distributors, resellers and systems integrators,” says Alexander Aminoff, Sales Manager at Nordic ID. But in the RFID industry, Aminoff finds, players are hesitant to share information — even something as simple as the name of a customer or the environment in which devices are to be used.
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Cub Business Systems AB
phone, or a tablet, or something else. But since we have many retail clients, the Nordic ID Morphic is often a natural choice.”
language. We do business the same way.” Engström also likes the level of service at Nordic ID. “With all operations,
Of course the two companies also share geographic and cultural traits that strengthen the relationship. “We’ve worked with these guys for a long time,” says Engström, “and we speak the same
“When you’re flying blind it puts you at a disadvantage in terms of service delivery,” says Aminoff. But as with every great business relationship, Cub Business Systems AB and Nordic ID share information on many levels to improve products and offerings alike. “That’s how we can be of best support to our customers,” he says. COOPERATION IN THE FIELD Cub Business Systems AB and Nordic ID do more than just share information on devices and business opportunities. You can find them in the field, putting cooperation into practice. Some samples of this include a shared exhibit during Sweden’s RFID day this year, and a joint seminar series. Naturally the two companies also go in on pitches together to meet with potential customers. MAY THE BEST DEVICE WIN Cub Business Systems AB prides itself on being a solution-centric systems integrator. This means that they choose the best device for the situation. “We don’t think of Nordic ID before looking at customer use cases,” says Engström. “For some applications, the optimal end-point device might be a smart
Nordic IDea • 21
including manufacturing, only an hour’s flight away, turnaround time is the best in the business,” he says. Given the healthy relationship between the two companies, it’s little wonder that they work together so often. COLLABORATION: AXFOOD OF SWEDEN One major, recent collaboration involved Swedish grocery retailer and wholesaler Axfood. About 2 years ago the retailer engaged Cub Business Systems AB to upgrade back office systems and to replace wired handheld computers, as legacy systems had become outdated and hard to repair. In addition to being tethered by wire, the 4,000 handheld terminals dating from the mid 1990s were large, awkward to use and unable to provide real time information. This was critical, as Axfood was simultaneously implementing a new SAP system. Real time information would improve savings and deliver further time efficiencies. KEY REQUIREMENTS Axfood set out a number of requirements for new mobile computers, including: • Battery life of 8+ hours • Single-handed, non-slip and rugged use • Real time connection to back office • Backwards compatibility • Fully customized software that is easy to update After evaluating potential prospects, Axfood chose to work with Cub Business Systems AB because of their track record in working with the company. As for the mobile computers on offer, Axfood personnel immediately took to the Nordic ID Morphic because of its familiar mobile phone shape and simple ergonomics.
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A SMOOTH ROLLOUT
The Nordic ID Morphic met and exceeded all criteria set out by Axfood at the outset of the project. After a quick pilot program, Axfood found the complete rollout swift and exceptionally affordable, with 1,000 Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers put into use in 150 stores by spring, 2010.
At time of writing, all fully owned shops are installed with the Nordic ID Morphic, bringing the total number of mobile computers in use to nearly 3,000 units. They are used primarily on the shop floor for functions like ordering, price checking, stocktaking and returns.
Thanks to custom Cub Business Systems AB software and an excellent device application interface, Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers were set up and ready for use in less than four minutes. Nordic ID also delivered a custom Device Management system that gives Axfood central control over all terminals in each store. This includes software upgrades, checking terminal status and custom terminal configuration. Finally, the rollout was completed without detailed employee training, as personnel found the Nordic ID Morphic so intuitive to use.
Now, salespeople always have the Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers with them as they travel throughout the store. This enables a new kind of customer service and enhances lean, almost flawless supply chain management. It’s been a financial boon to the retailer in many ways, including fewer stock-outs and better, faster customer service. COLLABORATION: GLITTER Glitter is another example of how great things can happen when partners collaborate closely. With 253 stores in Sweden, Finland, Norway and
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Image: Cub Business Systems AB
Poland, Glitter is a fashion jewellery and accessories powerhouse, offering fashion conscious women of all ages a wide selection of affordable accoutrements. All 253 shops have implemented a Cub Business Systems AB solution complete with back end system, mobile computers from Nordic ID, and docking stations. The Glitter IT team found great efficiencies with Cub Business Systems AB -designed solutions that make use of Nordic ID Morphic terminals for inventory and goods received. “Beforehand, we had to recruit extra personnel for inventory counts in the
evenings to make deadlines,” says Jimmy Bixfeldt, the man responsible for IT processes at Glitter. “With CubLink® one person can perform an inventory count during store hours. We have effectively saved 80% on time,” he finds. The solution, which has been used in Glitter shops since 2009, relies on CubLink® StockTaking. It’s a standard but completely customizable system for inventory developed by Cub Business Systems AB. The system also centrally manages Nordic ID mobile computers for all shops and about 20 units in use at the warehouse in Söderköping southwest of Stockholm.
INTEGRATED WITH ERP CubLink® is integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX, Glitter’s enterprise resource planning system, enabling real time mobile computer connectivity to inventory and POS systems. When docked, Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers recharge and synchronize with the shop system. “Cub Business Systems AB has integrated the system and the mobile computers with our shop system so that it works exactly as we want to,” says Bixfeldt. “We are quite pleased with both Cub Business Systems AB and Nordic ID.”
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RFID CASE STUDY www.vanvuurenmode.nl
RFID STREAMLINES WEB STORE AS WELL AS BRICK-AND-MORTAR
Van Vuuren Mode implements RFID Van Vuuren Mode is a chain of women’s fashion stores recognized throughout the Netherlands. The upscale retailer carries premium brands, including Taifun, Claudia Sträter, Gaastra, DFVV, Bandolera and Gerry Weber. With 26 locations plus an online store selling more than 500,000 items yearly, the fashion powerhouse was looking for further efficiencies in its business model, making it a ripe candidate for RFID specific efficiencies.
A UNIQUE WEB BUSINESS MODEL Access to real time information and transparency will improve stock management in any Web store, but especially given the unique online business model in place at Van Vuuren Mode: whenever an order comes in through the Web store, one of the 26 Van Vuuren locations that has the items in question will fill the order and ship it directly from the store. While distribution centres may stock dozens or hundreds of a given stock keeping units (SKU), retail locations will often have only a handful or even just one of each item on the sales floor or in the storeroom. But fulfilling online retail orders from brick-and-mortar locations helps preserve a healthy sales margin, as Van Vuuren is able to leverage existing store staff to fill orders rather than employing dedicated personnel at a fulfilment centre. Customers also have the option to pick the order up from the retail location of their choice, thereby saving on shipping costs and increasing the likelihood of spontaneous purchases.
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RFID DELIVERS HOLISTIC OPTIMIZATION RFID held the promise of helping Van Vuuren to optimize internal processes, especially concerning logistics. The technology helps sales staff to quickly locate the item within the store by using a mobile RFID computer with Geiger counter functionality. It also helps in other ways. These include fast daily stock counts, simplified returns management, improved logistics in getting items to specific retail locations to fill orders for pickup, and updating the point of sale system to trigger a stock refill once an order has been filled.
POSITIVE RESULTS So far results are very good, with 98.5% read accuracy. For the full rollout, Van Vuuren is interested in switching to the slimmer, mobile phone-like Nordic ID Morphic UHF RFID Cross Dipole mobile computer with external antenna. There were initially some double reads with the system, ironically enough because one manufacturer, Gerry Weber, had already discovered the benefits of RFID supply chain integration and has RFID tags sewn into their garments. Once the system was programmed to disregard this class of tag, the issue was quickly solved. FUTURE PLANS
To make it all work, Van Vuuren collaborated with improvement-it, a Hoofddorp-based RFID solutions provider. They started small, with a twostore pilot that implemented the Nordic ID Merlin UHF RFID Cross Dipole mobile computer. At the distribution centre, Van Vuuren garments have always been re-labelled with a classic cardboard label including price, barcode, GER info and now an RFID tag. Because it’s just an add-on to the tagging process, total costs associated with RFID tags are very low.
Van Vuuren Mode is always interested in ways to improve the shopping experience for customers, and has tested what’s known as a ‘smart mirror’; a computer system in the change room that displays options based on the RFID codes that it detects. For example, it might suggest a sweater to go with a certain blouse and skirt combination, or let the customer know if a different size of garment is in stock. Once the current RFID rollout is fully implemented, the retailer is interested in considering other options to improve efficiency and increase sales.
Product: Nordic ID Merlin UHF RFID Cross Dipole
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Image: Van Vuuren Mode website
Nordic IDea â€˘ 25
NORDIC ID PARTNER
Technowave HITS A HOME RUN IN THE PERSIAN GULF
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www.gant.com www.technowavegroup.com www.qid.hu
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Technowave & Shutterstock
Product: Nordic ID PL3000 UHF RFID Cross Dipole
Major U.A.E. chain realises tremendous economies with RFID When Persian Gulf retail giant Liwa Trading Enterprises became aware of shrinkage in several of its stores, it looked to technology partner Technowave International for a solution. The Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates based retailer counts more than 200 stores in its network across the Persian Gulf region. 19 of those stores, exclusive to the GANT brand, were experiencing significant shrinkage. At Technowave’s suggestion, Liwa decided to pilot the use of RFID in one store and upon successful trial, rolled it out to nine of those stores across the U.A.E. to help control shrinkage and increase efficiency. SHRINKAGE HIGH, EFFICIENCY SUFFERING Despite robust anti-theft systems, shrinkage was a known problem in the GANT stores. But with stock counts taking place only once per year, store management was not aware of the extent. The cause was also unknown, but management suspected employees who left the organization in between stock taking cycles. Up until the pilot program was implemented, performing inventory counts had been a laborious process. Liwa would deploy a team of ten people armed with barcode scanners who would take between sixty and ninety minutes to perform an inventory count on an average of 2,800 items per store. This manpower-intensive approach was symptomatic of similar logistics processes across Liwa’s supply chain. In the daily or weekly transfer of goods from warehouse to store, for example, item barcodes were individually scanned at point of origin before each carton was sealed — an intensive, manual procedure that slowed the speed of operations. Impinj Speedway Revolution reader with Farfield antennas are installed at the warehouse to read the cartons and its contents which allows seamless dataflow
to the ERP during dispatch and the same is reconciled at store with the Nordic ID PL 3000 terminals with integrated RFID reader. More than the stock count; transfers are helping Liwa to improve the efficiency significantly by using RFID technology. TECHNOWAVE PROVIDES INTEGRATED SOLUTION Because representatives from Technowave were well acquainted with Liwa’s operations, they were able to quickly propose a solution. With over 65 Auto ID professionals spread across the Middle East and India, Technowave is a U.A.E. -based system integrator with two decades’ experience in barcode, mobility and RFID-based solutions. The company carried out a very successful, one-week pilot program involving RFID in one GANT store, and submitted ROI statistics associated with the pilot along with their proposal. Once they received the green light for a nine-store rollout, Technowave assembled the components of a complete solution. SMARTPIN RFID TAGS For RFID tags, Technowave selected a reusable RFID pin tag that carries a barcode in addition to RFID information. SmartPIN, from QID Solutions in Hungary, links an RFID code to the item product code with a simple scan at the warehouse level. In Liwa’s case, SmartPIN integrated nicely with the retailer’s existing anti-theft tags and helped them decrease the internal lifting by adding more intelligence to the security system. Technowave’s own in-house software development team created and implemented RFID middleware that dovetailed seamlessly with the retailer’s enterprise resource management system. Once the SmartPIN barcode is scanned at checkout, the SmartPIN is detached from the database and the pin can be re-used with any other item.
ALLIANCE WITH NORDIC ID For scanning purposes, Technowave recommended using the Nordic ID PL 3000 mobile RFID computer with a cross dipole antenna. Since the company is a preferred company to Nordic ID, Technowave technicians were already well acquainted with Nordic ID. They chose the unit because it was comparatively light, easy to handle and — most importantly — capable of reading in any orientation. In future rollouts, Technowave plans to add Nordic ID Merlin mobile computers as an update to the Nordic ID PL 3000. RESULTS The reduction in manpower required to perform logistical tasks was tremendous. Store inventory counts were reduced from 10 to 15 man-hours to 25 minutes. The Nordic ID PL 3000 was also found to have very quick read times for both folded as well as hanging items, with flawless 100% reading performance. Liwa Trading Enterprises has now decided to roll out RFID in other GANT stores in the region and add few more brands for implementation of RFID based inventory tracking system. Technowave has secured the contract this year for the rollout in 5 more stores in the region.
Nordic IDea • 25 27
RFID ARTICLE www.nordicid.com
RFID: SPURRING BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION IN
Fash ion RETAIL
According to a recent U.S. study, most fashion retailers believe their stock information is around 99% accurate. In reality it’s closer to 75%. As we all know, low accuracy means out-of-stocks, which causes potential customers to leave stores empty-handed. It’s a leading cause of decreased profit margin in retail, and entirely preventable. Some retailers only count inventory once per month, and others count it (gasp!) just once per year, because it takes so much time. Cataloguing each item on the shop floor with barcode scanners can take dozens of man-hours, and different sizes and colours of garment must be noted manually. Move from barcode technology to RFID and sizes and colours form part of the information scanned, virtually eliminating human error — plus time is reduced to mere minutes. When American Apparel staff performs a store count with handheld RFID computers, it takes less than an hour to inventory 20,000 items.
Item-level information takes business analytics to a new level IMPROVING STOCK ACCURACY AND OPERATIONAL TRANSPARENCY IS JUST THE FIRST STEP The reality of American Apparel’s inventory counts is that 25 minutes are spent on inventory and 35 on filling the floor with items identified as missing. It’s because store inventory replenishment is accurately managed with RFID that American Apparel is able to replenish shelves on a daily basis — the retailer is almost never out of stock at the store level. When a box of clothes is delivered to the storeroom, a quick scan will reveal the size, colour and item model within, synching the order with the store’s inventory system. All of this helps to drive out-of-stocks down from an industry average of 8% to below 1%. For this and other reasons, the industry is beginning to see a wholesale move towards RFID.
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Here’s another example of RFID coming to the rescue on the sales floor: over the course of the day items get left in the change room and misracked. When you have six each of five styles of black sweater in ten sizes, customers arriving later in the day can’t find what they are looking for. That’s because store staff are more apt to order more from the storeroom or the distribution centre rather than spend time combing through sweaters by hand. With RFID, a quick scan will show you what you actually have and facilitate reorganizing the racks. Many store processes can be optimized with RFID, and German fashion retail heavyweight S. Oliver recently wrapped up a three-store RFID pilot to quantify the advantages. The retailer’s secondary objective was to identify inventory differences on the
shop floor and in stores owing to loss and theft. With the assistance of Nordic ID RFID mobile computers, the retailer found the root causes not only of shrinkage but also out-of-stocks, and realized an acceleration in stock taking of 10 to 15 times. Project manager Patrick Szostak is enthusiastic: “Being capable of correcting stock differences as well as optimizing replenishment from central logistics made it possible for us to generate tangible growth in sales that is intriguing enough to think about a rollout of RFID technology.” So many fashion retailers are thinking along these lines that Jessica Säilä, Business Development Director at Nordic ID, predicts a coming widespread adoption.
Text: Jessica Carl Michener Säilä / Nordic / ID BBN ID Images: Editing: Nordid Carl Michener ID & Shutterstock / ID BBN Images: Nordic ID
“Within the next five to ten years, the efficiencies of RFID will permeate the entire fashion industry,” she says. “We’re seeing incredible movement in that sector now, and some fashion houses are really ramping up quickly.” S. Oliver’s pilot and dozens of other retail implementations serve to illustrate that stock accuracy and operational transparency — the most widely discussed topics in fashion RFID — are greatly improved with an RFID implementation. Accuracy and speed are almost always the factors upon which ROI calculations are predicated, so it’s good news that the numbers are even better now that the technology is moving beyond the company boundaries of individual companies. GERMAN FASHION: MOVING BEYOND THE COMPANY PERIMETER Several German retailers have taken steps to create efficiencies beyond the company perimeter. One such is Modehaus Jost GmbH & Co, the first mid-sized fashion retailer to get into the RFID game, now sharing RFID-based information with suppliers. In a recent pilot project, Jost exchanged inventory data with clothing manufacturer Seidensticker. “Seidensticker receives inventory reports with EPCs from us, thus gaining an accurate view of which goods are available on the sales floor,” explains Patric Knoll, Commercial Director at Modehaus Jost. “The feedback to the suppliers enables correct and efficient supply replenishment.” Results include increased process transparency and a high level of merchandise availability. Of course when customers find what they are looking for — in the desired size and colour — sales figures and customer satisfaction experience a lift as well. Another German pioneer in the field is Gerry Weber, manufacturer and retailer of fine casual clothes for women. The company has integrated RFID processes from end to end, going so far as to send special clothing labels with RFID tags integrated to their
manufacturers worldwide. This prevents manufacturers from creating and selling extra copies of Gerry Weber clothing, and of course allows the tracking process to begin right at the source. RFID tracking moves from manufacturer facilities worldwide to distribution centres and company stores. Gerry Weber even has resellers implementing RFID in their own shops and sharing data. RFID DATA REVOLUTIONIZES OPERATIONS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE Gerry Weber and other German fashion retailers like Jakob Jost, Seidensticker, K L Ruppert and S. Oliver — as well as American and U.K. retailers like American Apparel, Laura Ashley — have achieved better inventory accuracy and streamlined their logistics processes thanks to RFID. Logistics efficiencies and accuracy, after all, remain the things upon which ROI calculations are predicated. But according to Säilä, that’s just the beginning.
“The key to the future of RFID in fashion retail is data,” states Säilä unequivocally. “The most exciting thing is when accuracy has been achieved — then you begin to see analytics put to use in ingenious ways. Once processes are streamlined and everything is accounted for, you can focus on leveraging the wealth of information made available by RFID.” Barcodes gave fashion retail executives insight into the frequency and time of day that different items were bought, how best to launch and leverage loyalty cards, and similar information. In short, the advent of barcodes gave retailers valuable purchase behaviour information that they had never had before. It was the beginning of something very good, and something that is getting vastly better with RFID. In a study conducted by Gartner in October 2011, the majority of companies surveyed were planning or had started RFID deployments. For RFID promises to increase the level of information you have on your assets, inventory, processes and customers.
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RFID ARTICLE www.nordicid.com
Säilä cites American Apparel and Van Vuuren Mode, a Dutch retailer, as examples of an emerging trend. Both retailers have such a tight handle on the location of all items within their distribution centres and networks of stores that they can fulfil website orders direct from stores. “RFID is revolutionizing the way retailers handle their merchandise, says Säilä. “There’s no longer a need to allocate separate stock for stores, online etc., because you have total visibility of all stock. With RFID it’s not about having sufficient stock here, here and there to serve demands. It’s about knowing precisely where all the size 8 raspberry (Säilä’s favourite colour) cocktail dresses of a certain style are located throughout your store and distribution centre network.” That gives retailers more flexibility when it comes to multichannel shopping. With 40% of Europeans now multichannel buyers, according to Forrester, 2012 will see more retailers attempting to bridge the online/offline gap. Van Vuuren and American Apparel have not only done this for the customer, but internally as well. Both eliminated the distribution centre from their Web sales models and instead use their existing army of sales staff to pick, pack and ship from retail storerooms. Van Vuuren Mode also offers customers the option of picking orders up from the store of their choice, increasing the likelihood of impulse purchases.
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THE POWER TO CHANGE CULTURE AND PROFITS If you look at RFID holistically, it becomes obvious that its overall effect can add up to more than the sum of its individual effects. RFID can be a powerful agent of change — something potentially of even greater business value. To illustrate how RFID changes retail operations, here are some reallife examples: • Keeping the sales floor full: Gerry Weber can perform a stock count in 10 minutes for a 200m store, allowing employees to cycle count several times a day. • More efficient logistics: In a world of justin-time inventory, knowing what size, colour and model of garment you need to resupply daily — rather than weekly or monthly — reduces the size of shipments, the amount of stock required in a shop store room and time spent looking for items that aren’t there. In addition, improving the efficiency of stocktaking by a factor of 10 or 15 times reduces manhours required and frees staff to serve customers. • Less shrinkage: Better information also lets you know at what points shrinkage occurs, which helps to eliminate it. American Apparel reported a 55% drop in internal shrinkage. • Increased sales: A vast reduction in out-ofstock situations will noticeably lift sales. In the case of one Swiss fashion house, the lift was on the order of 10%.
The table on the right side lists some RFID benefits researched and reported by ABI Reserach. THE NEXT FRONTIER: PRODUCT LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT According to the aforementioned Gartner study, the main challenge in Apparel IT lies in product lifecycle management (PLM), the process of managing the entire life of a product from conception through design and manufacture, distribution, marketing, sales and ultimately to disposal or repurposing. From the sample of over 100 fashion IT executives that the study polled in the Gartner study, as many as 37% listed PLM-related issues as their number one IT topic for 2012, especially surrounding product development. As Säilä notes, where product development is concerned, knowing customer behaviour is key. And thanks to the granularity of data that RFID provides, it’s now possible to collect incredibly rich information and put it to practical use. Installing RFID scanners at the entrance to fitting rooms, for example, can show trends that both clothing designers and marketers can use to boost sales. If statistics show that on Fridays women try shirts designed for weekend clubbing, merchandisers can place them strategically in stores on Fridays. They might also launch a Friday campaign: buy this shirt and get 20% off a pair of jeans that matches the shirt perfectly, for instance.
Product developers and designers can also use statistical data from the fitting room correlated with point of purchase data to see what items were tried and purchased versus those that were not bought. This information can help designers to react more quickly to customer preferences by revising upcoming designs. THE FUTURE OF RFID IN FASHION RETAIL Taking RFID merchandising a step further, you can imagine a scenario in smart fitting rooms solicit customer feedback. By allowing customers to say why they didn’t buy the items they tried on, you’re gaining even more precise information: the colour was not ideal, something was wrong with the shape of the garment, the customer didn’t like the material, the colour was wrong… all great feedback that can help designers to create garments that customers want to buy. Into the bargain, you’re empowering the customer to provide feedback, which makes them feel that you care about what they like. Fitting rooms that double as focus groups may be a thing of the future, but smart fitting rooms of another kind are already being tested. At a Roberto Verino store in Barcelona, a new system allows customers to virtually try garments on before going to the trouble of disrobing. A customer selects garments and places them on a shelf beside a screen. Their RFID tags are read, and the customer can see how the garments look, including when she moves or turns, in an interactive mirror that employs augmented reality technology. By enabling shoppers to mix and match items far more quickly than trying on each garment separately, the store has the potential to increase sales. Smart mirrors in fitting rooms can also suggest, for example, what items might complement whatever the shopper is trying on, or provide information on other sizes and colours available. In some cases, customers can select another colour or size and have it brought to them instead of putting their clothes back on and returning to the shop floor, then disrobing again. This can save time…or save customers the embarrassment of calling a shop assistant to bring a larger size.
REAL LIFE RFID EXPERIENCES BENEFIT
Reduction in out-of-stocks by
60% - 80%
Better inventory accuracy
98% - 99.9%
Reduction in cycle accuracy
75% - 92%
Reduced inventory carrying costs by
30% - 59%
Reduced receiving time by up to
Improved conversion rate by up to
Increased units / transaction and $ / transaction by Increased sales from
19% and 6% 4% to 21%
Source: ABI research Following items and serving customers in something that the RFID giants such as Gerry Weber also look at next: “Now that we have stock-related issues under control thanks to RFID,” says von Grone, Chief Information Officer and Global Head of IT at Gerry Weber, “we are planning to test smart fitting rooms and similar concepts. Before we do that we want to test the idea with our clientele, as we’re not sure if such a feature would appeal to them _ they are not exactly technology oriented. If we feel that such a concept would not fly well, we might equip five to ten stores with RFID readers in the ceilings of fitting rooms. That way we can correlate items tried on with purchase data to see trends in demand and where further product development is needed, such as with items brought to fitting rooms but not bought.” But while smart rooms make it easier to find the clothes you want, it’s near field communications (NFC) that will make selecting and paying for items effortless. RFID-enabled credit cards, launched in the U.S. in 2006, promised contactless payment via RFID. But the rollout was plagued
with security concerns and the cards never caught on the way they were meant to. Other card-based solutions have come out, as well as a variety of mobile phone-based NFC/RFID applications, some of which look promising. Advertisers are increasingly making use of RFID to capture new clients, notably Canadian indoor display advertiser Newad Media. The company is attaching a tag containing a passive NFC RFID inlay printed with a QR code to poster frames installed within Vancouver restaurant and bar bathrooms. Patrons with NFC-enabled phones can tap the poster to enter into a prize draw. So far the jury is still out on what technology will win the battle for in-store payment, but successful promotional solutions are paving the way. We may find a winner sooner than later, however, thanks to initiatives like that of the Royal Canadian Mint. Canada’s national provider of legal tender is offering $50,000 in gold to the person that invents the winning technology for its newly announced ‘MintChip’ – a small chip or card designed to eliminate the need for money in making very small purchases, like an iTunes song or a packet of gum. Think that RFID might factor in to the eventual solution? You can bank on it.
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RFID CASE STUDY
American Apparel GOES HI TECH RFID boosts efficiency of fashion retail
American Apparel is one of the few clothing companies in the West that has bucked the trend: instead of moving production offshore, the vertically integrated manufacturer, distributor and retailer of casual clothing has kept all operations in Los Angeles. With a California workforce of approximately 5,000 people, American Apparel is not only the largest garment manufacturer in North America. They might also be the only American company to manufacture in the U.S. and sell through their own retail outlets in China. 32 â€˘ Nordic IDea
Despite a winning formula and highly efficient processes, American Apparel is constantly on the lookout for additional efficiencies that can help it maintain its competitive edge. With 280 retail outlets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia and 1.5 million pieces of clothing produced per week, even a small uptick can make a big difference throughout the company ecosystem. By far the biggest advantage that American Apparel has found in recent years is RFID.
A PAPER-BASED CHALLENGE American Apparel had long used a barcode scanning system at point of sale to trigger a replenishment of inventory from the stockroom. But as it was a manual, paper-based system requiring physical counts, replenishment only occurred twice per week. Even so, it still involved manual item counts and an average of 240 man-hours per month. Naturally, there was also potential for human error.
Product: Nordic ID Merlin UHF RFID Cross Dipole
RFID TO THE RESCUE To address this issue as well as to lift sales, the vertically integrated garment manufacturer is implementing an item level RFID system. Now part way through a worldwide rollout of 280 locations, American Apparel is tracking items from advance shipping notice (ASN) receiving right through to point of sale. An RFID software solution from Xterprise, a Texas-based RFID system provider, has proven to reduce out-ofstock situations and labour costs while substantially augmenting sales.
the ability for retail managers to make better decisions as well as identifying and responding to buying trends. “We have seen a sustained sales lift,” says Shulman. In fact, sales have increased an average of 14% at stores already using RFID. “It’s mostly due to a reduction in out-ofstocks and higher sales staff availability”, Shulman summarizes. Out-of-stocks have dropped to 1%, and internal shrinkage has also been reduced by an average of 55%. With approximately
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Shutterstock
The system — active as of early 2012 at over 100 retail outlets — employs ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen2 passive RFID tags to track items as they enter the store, move to the sales floor and exit via point of sale (POS). Every store is furnished with two mobile computers, which may include the Nordic ID Merlin UHF RFID Cross Dipole and Nordic ID PL3000 UHF RFID Cross Dipole. Employees use these to perform inventory checks or to locate specific items on the sales floor or in the storeroom. Items arriving from the distribution centre and leaving the store
in shopping bags are recorded using fixed RFID sensors.
12,000 SKUs and just one copy of each on the sales floor at a time, keeping out-of-stocks down to 1% is indeed an accomplishment.
searches. Statistically speaking, the average payback on American Apparel’s RFID investment is about 4.5 months per store.
ROI: 4.5 MONTHS
Shulman is impressed. “You could say that we’re pleased with our investment, yes. Going into our initial pilot, we hadn’t anticipated quite such a quick payback.” American Apparel’s experience is proof positive that RFID technology can act as a catalyst to drive lower costs, enhance supply chain productivity and deliver greater customer satisfaction.
Increased sales and fewer out-of-stocks are huge benefits, but there are also major savings tied to the efficiency that comes with RFID. Each store saves approximately 185 hours or $27,000 per month in labour, thanks for the most part to faster counting and fewer storeroom
SALES WAY UP, SHRINKAGE AND COSTS WAY DOWN Stacey Shulman, American Apparel’s VP of Technology, has found that it takes store managers and staff several months to fully adjust to the technology. “Once managers are used to the system, they have better visibility into the flow of merchandise,” she says. “It’s great both from an overview perspective and also very granular.” The end result is
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RFID APPLICATION Text: Sini Syrjälä / Nordic ID Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
Nordic ID puts itself in customers’ shoes
BY CREATING A FASHION APPLICATION DEMO & COLLECTION Nordic ID has invested some creativity to develop a tool for demonstrating RFID reading actions such as item search and stock taking in fashion stores. Typically this would, of course, mean handling clothes and this was seriously considered. But a more practical solution was to draw them instead.
Imagine the effort of bringing a collection of 2000 pieces of clothing to a fair booth. How much space it takes, how much it costs, how you have to treat it to avoid damages, and what you have to do to prevent people from stealing items. How do you transport the collection from one place to another and what will that cost you? All these challenges put us in a creative mood to think about other solutions. As a result, the Nordic ID Double Bubble paper garment collection was born. Our Graphics Designer Hanna Östman created six different lines of clothing: Hannah, Mimmi, Ga-by Bubble, Layla Glam, Alex and Micah. These lines together form the Double Bubble collection. The collection has different jeans, t-shirts, cardigans, suits, dresses, shoes and accessories. Each one of the garments was drawn separately and printed on a hanger shaped cutout of cardboard. We also created a stock of each garment - for instance a Hannah T-shirt has the sizes XS, S, M, L and XL and there are from zero to ten pieces per size of the garment in the collection, leading to a total of 2010 garments. So, we have 2010 hanger shaped cut-outs with garments printed on them. On the other side of the paper cut-out, they all have a label including product information (type of cloth, line, size, color and price) and a barcode. All cut-outs have a UPM Belt tag sticker attached below the label. While the drawing, printing, tagging et cetera was being done, our Software Engineer, Markku Kynsijärvi, created a demo program for our mobile computers that demonstrates how RFID can assist sales personnel in Apparel Retail. The main priority was to make it user friendly. Items are tagged by pushing only two buttons on the Nordic ID Morphic UHF RFID Cross Dipole. 2010 tags later, we had an RFID tagged and barcode labelled collection ready for all kinds of RFID actions. Finally, by hanging all the paper cut-outs on racks, we are effectively simulating a store.
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Product: Nordic ID Smart Fitting Room Demo
COLLECTION In addition to demonstrating inventory and search functions with a mobile computer, we took the concept even further by supplementing it with a tablet computer application, a “Personal Assistant” by the name Nordic ID Smart Fitting Room Demo, to be placed on the wall of a fitting room. This application was created by the newest addition to our ranks, Software Engineer Lauri Kare. When a customer enters the fitting room, a fixed Nordic ID Sampo RFID reader placed close to the door notices the garments taken inside and shows them on the display of the tablet. By using the touchpad the customer can: • get pointers on what products match the garments brought to the fitting room • search for sizes and colors available • send a request for a sales assistant to bring the new items to the fitting room
• give feedback about garments • skim through new items and collections • watch video clips The demo has icons on the left side of the screen which the customer can use for navigation when performing the actions above. The starting point for the application was to create an excel table of the whole collection. In it, the SKUs, collection names, types, sizes and colors of the garments were listed. Additionally, lists of matching items for each garment were created. The SKUs were developed in a way that the numbers stand for certain features of the garments that can be identified just by looking at the SKU - if you know the logic behind the numbers, that is.
The information contained in the excel sheet was inserted into a relational database. A PHP script was used to parse each row of the excel sheet, and insert them in the relevant database tables. This functionality allowed us to export the SKU data from an excel file to an SQL database. The tablet computer used for the Personal Assistant runs the Android Operating System on top of which a web based user interface has been created. A Windows based web browser could also be used to display the content, but it would demand some minor modifications. The web based user interface for the demo was developed using HTML with PHP generating the page content and CSS defining the appearance. Java Script was used for communicating between the web server and the Android tablet and for reading the tags.
INFORMATION YOUR ITEM:
USE THIS WITH:
Shirt 39,90 € Touch the items for additional information or item request to boot.
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THE SPARK THAT STARTED THE FIRE After a long process of investigation; visiting apparel customers, trade fairs, talking to people, reading magazines and sharing ideas, Jessica Säilä came to the conclusion that creating our own fashion collection was exactly what we needed. And the idea caught fire among the rest of us. Creating our own demo concept was a natural choice. It allows us to tailor and develop the demo to fit the needs of, and solve the problems of any particular customer. The demo concept has been tested by “non-technical persons”, so we can say with confidence that that it is easy to understand and use without assistance. The system administrator can make modifications to the product catalogue whenever the need emerges.
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One of the most important benefits of RFID for the whole supply chain is perhaps feedback. Let us say that there is a garment on the shop floor that people try on often but rarely buy. The Nordic ID Sampo will be able to inform the retailer about this, but in addition, the customers themselves can use the Personal Assistant to give feedback about the product. This feedback goes back to the retailer and the whole supply chain all the way to the designer. The store can focus on ordering clothes that their customers like and designers know what kinds of modifications to the garment would make it sell. And it does not end there; the store can collect information about when customers tend to try on a particular kind of garment, for instance, young women might try on more “party tops” on a Friday than on a Monday. The
visual merchandisers of the store can use this information and move the tops to the most visible place of the store on Fridays, as well as be sure that the top stocks are replenished in time for the weekend. THE COLLECTION APPEARANCE The decision to make the collection out of paper was, as mentioned, due to practical reasons. But we also wanted to be different. Uniqueness strengthens the brand and the look of the collection suits the graphic design we are already using, such as the Nordic ID homepage design, paper doll giveaways etc. “It was so inspiring that it was hard to stop. After considering a much smaller set of items we finally came to the conclusion that a full Nordic ID branded collection would be even better. And it
was! I drew clothes that I would like to wear myself“, Hanna Östman smiled, as she was asked how she took on this challenge. Since the collection design was created from scratch in-house, we decided that the names of the six different collections should refer to real people working at Nordic ID, just to make it more personal. The name Double Bubble comes from the RFID agent print that we ordered for our 25th anniversary.
Now the Double Bubble Collection is a normal part of the presentations and printed material that our personnel use. It has proven to be useful in more ways than we could imagine. Now we have a fun and easy way to show to our partners and customers what our business is all about and how our devices work.
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w w w . r f i d a r e n a . c o m
NORDIC ID is a
RFID ARTICLES - NEWS - CASE STUDIES
Recommended by independent organizations in Retail ENLIST IN THE SCHOOL OF RFID www.schoolofrfid.com
NORDIC ID : SCHOOL OF RFID INVESTIGATING OPTIMAL PLACEMENT OF UHF ANTENNA AND BLOCKING OF RF SIGNAL IN FASHION STORE FITTING ROOMS. For many retailers RFID shines the brightest on the shop floor. As the UHF tagged goods arrive at the stock room they are identified for the first time, this is followed by goods recognition during inventory, at point of sale and when exiting the store. The consumer may also encounter RFID in the store and for a practical example, see the Double Bubble Collection story on page 34.
How is it possible to limit the RFID reading area and what is the emphasis of different tags and different materials for attenuating the reading area? When using materials with a signal blocking capacity, how would we be able to limit the reading area yet not cause any disturbance on mobile phones? These were the issues that drove the Nordic ID test team to start a proper investigation. We set up realistic environment for a shop, which in this case meant a fitting room and a closet for reserved items. We tested three different positions for the reader antenna separately and with these settings different tag orientations were tried, as well as different tag types. The
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test was done first without any blocking materials and then with the materials used. The reader antenna was tested in three different positions: in the top center of the test fitting room, in the top corner and tilted at about 45 degrees, and on the side wall of the fitting room. To prevent unwanted reading through the stall walls, we added attenuation to the walls that we did not want the reader to read through. Material Attenuation @ UHF Frequency Aluminium foil ~ 20 dB Aluminium paper ~ 20 dB Carbon paint (YSHIELD HSF54) ~ 17 dB Based on the results, any of the abovementioned materials can be used to block reading through a wall. In the test different materials were separately attached to side wall of the fitting room, and reading was tested by using different reader antenna positions. The result was that any of the three materials can be used to completely block undesired through-wall RFID reading. Read the full article at: www.rfidarena.com
PRESENT AT RBTE The Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) was held at Earl’s Court in London, England on March 13th – 14th. The show received a lot of exposure in the media beforehand, which became evident to anyone exhibiting and visiting the event on scene. The show was extremely busy, as was the Nordic ID RFID Zone. The staff hardly got a chance to sit down for a minute to rest their feet and there was certainly no time for lunch either. It was clear that RFID is in focus with the retailers now. They have heard good things about successful roll-outs and pilots and simply do not have the option of willingly giving away the enormous competitive edge of RFID to their competitors. Indeed, they were eager to hear about Nordic ID experiences; our cases and solutions from previous years. Nordic ID has equipped 70% of all European adoptions and pilots since 2006. Nordic ID was also very lucky to be accompanied by an American retailer on the stand, preaching the RFID gospel. The Nordic ID RFID Zone received a lot of attention in the media after the show and was as an example mentioned by the Retail Bulletin. The clever promotion on the stand – the Double Bubble paper doll competition – also received attention from My Retail Media. To find out more about the competition, take a look at the back cover of this magazine. www.nordicid.com
Nordic ID at the Housing Fair Finland Co-op This summer, for the first time in the company history, Nordic ID will participate in the Housing Fair Finland Co-op, which will be held in Tampere between July and August. The Housing Fair Finland Co-op (Asuntomessut) is one of the largest open air events in the country and it reaches out to all prospective house owners and renovators. Nordic ID will present the “Wardrobe of the Future” as a part of Tampere University of Technology’s WAPS project. The whole project aims to develop fast adoption of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) as parts of current as well as new products and services. The future home idea was born in the company before the opportunity arose:
A blog post by our Sini Syrjälä actually describes the basic idea: Label all the items in your wardrobe with RFID, place a fixed reader at the door of your bedroom and place another reader close to where the laundry basket is located. An interactive display in the wardrobe vicinity will tell you all the available (meaning: clean) clothes you can choose to wear and tells you which other clothes you can add to your outfit. Nordic ID is eagerly looking forward to presenting the Wardrobe of the Future solution, which will be found at the Tekes-tulevaisuus hall.
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PARTNER NEWS www.starcke.fi/eng
From shrinkage control to brand integrity The initial discussion of the benefits of RFID concerned supply chain improvements and automation, followed later by inventory control. Today shrinkage management is being brought into focus. RFID’s contribution to shrinkage management is twofold: first knowing exactly what is missing improves replenishment and secondly shrinkage that earlier was not caught at all (such as internal shrinkage or shrinkage during transport) can now be pinpointed down to times and places, possibly even people. Shrinkage is not the only issue where RFID can help. A growing worry for
brand owners is protecting the brand from counterfeit products. Many leading brands protect themselves by using special patterns, holograms or other identifiers. However, these too can be copied and they do not protect the brand in case the manufacturing partners correctly manufacture the brand´s products and only then sell them through an illegal channel. In this case the products are not counterfeit, but they do not profit the brand itself. Combining RFID with a visual identification method or a simple, yet separate code strengthens the brand integrity. With a third party hosting the
database with visual identifiers and RFID data, there is no room for misdemeanor. Nordic ID has several partners who preach brand integrity. Alongside these we have several partners who can be of additional help. ACBD Consulting helps to measure and mitigate brand and product risks, and find methods to implement an overall fix. Another partner is Finnish Starcke Oy, a graphical post-processing expert in the field of product security. As both partners consult brands in such discreet matters, they hardly ever tell you who they work with. But we have, together, helped a retail customer with a severe supply chain issue.
PROJECT FUTURE STORE A STORE WITHOUT QUEUES. A MINIMUM NUMBER OF PERSONNEL. A FULLY AUTOMATED SHOPPING PROCESS. ROLL-OUT IN 2013. In June 2011, the three largest Russian companies – Corporation “RUSNANO”, OJSC “SITRONICS” and the leader of the Russian retail X5 Group - , signed the “Future Store” Project Investment Agreement in St. Petersburg. The key objective of the project is the creation of technological solutions for RFID technology implementation and operation, and the investment for the project will reach 350 Million rubles. Olga Karaeva, Director General of the “Future Store” Llc spoke to Nordic IDea in detail about the project, along with her assessment of the RFID prospects in Russia. “The Russian “Future Store” is a store with no queues, with a minimum number of personnel and cashiers. It provides a complete goods delivery control from manufacturer to consumer, the ability to track the movement of goods from the warehouse to the sales area, the shelf life of each item and instant information on the number and composition of the products on the shelf. It is a fully automated
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shopping process, with RFID playing a key role. There are as no analogues of this project, as there are no ready-made models accordingly, although we are continuing to study the existing international and Russian experience, involve leading experts, counsel, and consult. The equipment to have been demonstrated at the forum is, first of all, a scanner, which has already, at its early stage, showed 100% readability - this is our Russian design”, explains Karaeva. The use of RFID started in Russia in Moscow with introducing RFID smart cards in metro, and nowadays the application is widely spread. In addition, RFID is used in a number of central libraries, transport and warehouse logistics. The “Future Store” is a breakthrough project since in it RFID will be used in a complex, at the store level and it will underpin the whole system. Russia is considered to be one of the most promising business areas for the implementation of RFID based solutions,
and a lot has been learned by studying the world experience of using RFID in retail in great deals. As for the food retail, we are pioneers. “In our laboratory we are constantly testing RFID “behavior” with different kinds of products and packages, such as foil packaging and iron cans. We are very proud that the amount of “difficult” products has decreased, a year ago the amount was 60% and now we are at 34%.”, says Karaeva. The start of commercial use is scheduled for July 2013, the first pilot project is planned to open already at the end of year 2012.
Nordic ID presents new and innovative Finnish products for retailers:
CLOUDER.TV AWARDED WITH “THE MOST INNOVATIVE NEW PRODUCT” PRIZE BY THE FINNISH RETAIL TRADE MAGAZINE KAUPAN MAAILMA Clouder.tv Service, a company recently awarded with “The Most Innovative New Product” in the category of The Technical Solution of the Year (Retail Awards 2012), is a new Finnish company which aims to improve in-store promotion as well as online trade of brands. Clouder.tv Service is a product content management system as well as a material bank for marketing purposes. One benefit of this all is the ability to share information within the whole supply chain. A brand owner may easily update product information as well as availability information from one centralized location to all over the world. And better yet, the User Interface
resembles that of Facebook and is instantly intuitive to most users. Especially multi-brand retailers face the challenge of handling different kind of marketing and advertising material from their suppliers. According to Eve Holopainen, Clouder.tv Sales and Marketing Director, this will create an obstacle for retailers to engage in digital signage. Hence many multibrand retailers in Finland use little, if any, traditional visual merchandising. Clouder.tv offers a solution for this: a Browser-Based service which includes product pages (in landing page format), display-specific playlists made in advance, the linking of pages to websites, touch screen solutions for the
tablets the sales assistants’ carry along… All these issues help the customer to make a purchase decision. In addition, the service provides an easy way for retailers to present customers with products which are difficult to sell, take a remarkably large space on the shop or include a lot of technical information. For example companies selling tents and other camping equipment, canoes and sporting equipment as well as sofas, kitchens and other furniture would benefit from this product demonstration system. You can find the other awarded companies and solutions at Kaupan Maailma’s website: http://www.bbm.fi/Default.aspx?tabid=4000 http://www.clouder.tv/
A NEW ERA OF MEASURING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION It is so simple you hardly need any words to explain it: Rate the service by pressing the smiley face that best describes your experience. In Finland, where the people are known for extreme technophile solutions, user experience has been lifted to a new level. The HappyOrNot(R) device and service, simple enough for a five-year-old to operate, cleverly hides the technology behind a user experience. The idea behind HappyOrNot is that anyone can easily pose a question to their clientele and collect the data for further analysis. The questions may vary from customer satisfaction: Was our service fast today? to selection related: Did you find the product you wanted on our Fruit and Vegetable www.happyornot.fi
section? and to overall operations related: Did you find our premises clean today? And the beauty of it: Whichever the question, the simplicity of the system remains. It is always answered with the same device: a standalone, wireless data collection unit with 4 buttons. And when the question is changed, nothing else needs to be changed on the device itself. The changes can be handled online as well as the reporting. In Nordic IDea we introduce HappyOrNot, as we wish to introduce you to new Finnish innovations that offer something more and new to retailers. But HappyOrNot is not just for retailers, it has found users at airports, health clubs, banks and insurance companies, restaurants and hotels as well as in educational institutes. Have a look at the picture and you’ll understand why. Nordic IDea • 41
FRIENDS WITH THE
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www.facebook.com twitter.com/#!/RFMonster pinterest.com/rfmonster In my first days at Nordic ID, I had to go to the office warehouse in order to search for something I needed. Then I saw it: a green “sleeping bag” -like a roll on a shelf. “OK, we have a sleeping bag here”, I thought. “Maybe we have had use for that some years ago, at least it looks like so 90’s”. Still, the bag-like roll raised my interest. I knew I would be restless until the mystery of the roll was solved. What I found out, is something that I want to tell you about. It wasn’t a sleeping bag. It was a costume. If you follow Nordic ID in social media, you might have wondered about a green character that has been videoed and photographed in many contexts. Seeing it may have made a bell ring in your head; you have seen the character somewhere before. And then you realize: It’s the Nordic ID RF600 handheld barcode scanner you have seen in supermarkets and department stores. The RF Monster is an excellent example of what follows when Nordic ID gets creative. The idea for the RF Monster arose in an internal meeting, where our Sales & Marketing Director at that time announced that if an outfit of this kind would be made, he would wear it. The former Marketing Manager of Nordic ID, went ahead and designed and sewed the costume at home in a couple of evenings. The costume was introduced in 2005 at the Nordic ID Group personnel event at Herrankukkaro, and as promised, our Sales & Marketing
Text: Sini Syrjälä Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
Director was wearing it, later also in Germany at a business trade fair show. RF Monster, how do people react when they see you? - “Usually they think I am very hilarious. I am something they haven’t seen before. After I was born I got forgotten in the warehouse for several years, until Mirva Saarijärvi, the present Group Marketing Director, found me. Well, she was astonished about what she had found. She went to show me to others and some of the employees who had seen me before introduced me to her. She seemed to like me since after that moment I have been taken into events and have had roles in different videos of the company.” RF Monster, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies? - “Even though I am a Finn, I do not like swimming and sauna. My components would get wet. Therefore, I like running around and smiling to people. People get amused just seeing me so I guess I’m at my best when entertaining.” RF Monster, you are an active influencer in social media. How do you manage with all the technology? - “I’m a genius with technology, I’m smart inside. I have a Facebook account (Nid Rfmonster) with 50 friends, in Twitter I have 131 followers at the moment, and I have a Pinterest account with 34
followers. The followers are not just my friends at Nordic ID; there are some resellers and partners as well. Also a couple of funny guys I don’t even know. I’m always happy to make new friends. So, don’t be shy, folks!” he smiles. Nowadays the RF Monster’s main function is in entertainment and teamspirit enhancing purposes internally at Nordic ID or in videos you can see on YouTube. For instance, last autumn before the massive product launch, the RF Monster was frequently seen in the Big Sista videos in order to capture the interest of the crowd and get them excited about the product launch. At the moment there are various ideas inside the company about what could be the next time to bring the RF Monster out on the arena. For the Nordic ID personnel the RF Monster is a funny mascot and some say that it is a true honor to have been forced to wear the RF Monster costume. The RF Monster has turned out to be a creative marketing tool. Because the RF600 series has been the company’s flagship for handheld barcode scanners, the importance of that equipment was emphasized in the form of the RF Monster. And, for sure, Nordic ID will use the RF Monster this summer too. The RF Monster is not only a roll on the shelf taken out every now and then, but a part of the Nordic ID soul.
Innovative, and yet very professional.
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License to KILL: RFID and privacy Researchers recently found that Apple’s smart phones and tablets record and store device owners’ movements for up to a year. A lot of people find that disturbing — so much so that the discovery made it to the top of U.S. talk shows’ agendas. Does the idea of a big U.S. company tracking your every move bother you?
PRIVACY’S A PERSONAL THING Many people don’t like it, and who can blame them? The information may only be used on an aggregate basis, but it’s still a breach of privacy. Other people, however, couldn’t care less. Many use social media applications like Foursquare to voluntarily report their location wherever they are. People treat privacy differently — and not just different people, but the same person in different contexts. Someone who locks away Facebook profile data to all but their closest contacts might very well leave every aspect of their professional history, personal details and other information open for all to see on LinkedIn. Everyone’s version of privacy is a little different. Unfortunately, less privacy is almost always tied to heightened security risk, and security is the battleground upon which this privacy reckoning is being fought. As with geo-location technology, privacy and security issues are also coming to the fore in the RFID sphere, where businessfocused applications are beginning to bleed over into the consumer world.
have dropped. “RFID tags can store tremendous amounts of information,” says Jorma Lalla, CEO of RFID handset manufacturer Nordic ID. “You can also add data to tags as they travel, which is what makes them truly valuable. The information captured on tags during manufacturing or logistics processes is data that can be mined on an aggregate basis to see where efficiencies lie,” he explains. Some tags are the size of seeds, while others are as big as books. Some are rugged enough to be immersed and dropped; others can take the form of an adhesive sticker. Tag costs vary tremendously depending on specifications — from a few cents to many Euros. Another advantage of RFID technology is that read/write tags allow some levels of information to be erased and new information written in.
SNIFFING, EAVESDROPPING AND SECURITY Several European and other nations have embedded RFID tags in passports. With a read/write RFID chip in place, governments can keep precise digital records of citizens’ movements. That’s all well and good for record keeping, but encrypted RFID information has, in a few cases, been clandestinely intercepted from several metres away. When customs officials scan passports, data is being decrypted and read — presenting an opportunity for signal eavesdropping. The likelihood of passport data getting stolen is low, since a rogue reader can only pick up secured information when it’s being read with an official device. But the same kinds of concerns are also
RFID AND PRIVACY Radio frequency identification is not a new technology, but it has only really begun to blossom in the last five years, as the science has matured and tag prices
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Jorma Lalla is CEO of Nordic ID, a leading manufacturer of handsets for mobile data collection based in Salo, Finland’s Silicon Valley and home to mobile phone giant Nokia.
Heikki Seppä is a senior research professor with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a nonprofit organization and the largest multitechnological applied research organization in Northern Europe.
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Photo: iPhoto edited by Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
being raised about more pedestrian uses of RFID. A second-hand RFID reader, bought online for as little as five dollars, can be outfitted with a highpower, clandestine antenna hidden in clothing or a backpack that will allow it to pick up nearby RFID information, for example on a credit card. Open source software can enable hackers to deencrypt that information and use it in various nefarious ways. SECURITY PLAYING CATCH-UP TO RFID IMPLEMENTATION But even if this RFID ‘sniffing’ isn’t used to steal funds or identity, who wants the medications and other contents of their purse to be scanned? Or the size of their undergarments? Heikki Seppä, a professor with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and known in European circles as ‘Mr. RFID’, believes that encryption and security are playing catch-up to RFID implementation. “If you look at one kind of RFID use – that of nearfield communication (NFC) in mobile phones, security and consequently privacy work very well,” says Seppä. “That’s because encryption is not only built in, but there’s also a chain of IDs that work together to form protection — mobile serial number, security pass code, SIM card serial number and NFC serial number. Together, this all forms a unique chain of identity,” he states. “If you lose the phone, you can deactivate the SIM card via the Internet and it becomes unusable. Other applications don’t have the same chain of IDs, and encryption is either nonexistent or easily cracked.” Encryption and security has not been a concern for traditional RFID processes. Many of Nordic ID’s clients, for example, use RFID to track consumer items from point of production through to point of sale. “We have fashion retail clients who use RFID end-to-end throughout the supply chain,” says Lalla. “They send manufacturers RFID-equipped care tags to sew into clothing, ensuring that all items are trackable at the item level.” With total RFID integration, a worker can scan a carton or a pallet in a shop storeroom or in a warehouse and get an instant count of precisely what’s in
the order, right down to colour and size of garment. That helps guard against shrinkage, incomplete or erroneous orders, stock-outs and product counterfeiting. CONSUMERS BENEFIT FROM RFID That’s all beneficial to manufacturers, but what about consumers? Those same RFID tags are designed to become unreadable after a couple washes, so there’s no privacy problem there — but nor is there any consumer benefit. “RFID is only just starting to become useful to consumers,” says Seppä. “But the Internet of Things is just around the corner. Imagine scanning a toaster with your cell phone to read receipt and warranty information. Or scanning your car to find out when maintenance is recommended. There are hundreds of possible uses.”
Along with the increase in information comes privacy risk. If Stan the Stalker buys an RFID reader, can he scan the trash of the girl next door to see what she’s eating and if there are condom wrappers in the bin? The short answer is…probably. But Stan could find that out now; he just needs to sort through the garbage. “The bigger problem is with things like scanning credit cards through a purse or a wallet,” maintains Seppä. “The same thing can happen there as with passport eavesdropping. Except that it’s much easier to do. Credit cards are everywhere.” The Internet of Things is coming, but security issues are not entirely resolved. Like in the early days of wireless large area networking and many other technologies that have matured, we still need to achieve a sufficiently hardened set of standards and protocols for the safe use of RFID in all applications. Nordic Nordic IDea IDea •• 25 45
austriamicrosystems inside THE SECRET ADVANTAGES OF ANALOG CIRCUITRY The austriamicrosystems.com website sports a tagline that reads: a leap ahead in analog. It’s a curious sort of tagline these days, since you might think that analog was doomed by digital several decades ago. Not so, says Mark Dickson, the company’s RFID Marketing Manager for their Wireless Business Product Line. “By using analog rather than digital signal processing in our circuits, they end up being much less complex and use about 70% less power.”
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austriamicrosystems provides innovative analog solutions in power management, sensors, sensor interfaces and mobile infotainment. Their high frequency integrated circuit (IC) developed for RFID use is intrinsic to the great success of Nordic ID devices. IC model 3992 is currently in use in the latest Nordic ID mobile computers, as well as the fixed reader Nordic ID Sampo. The module is what gives us a competitive edge both in processing speed and, thanks to ultra-low power consumption, in long
operational battery life for mobile computers, with up to 18 hours’ use on a single charge. “Over the years, austriamicrosystems have become a great partner,” says Jorma Lalla, the CEO of Nordic ID. “Not only do they create the most efficient, advanced RFID ICs available today, but they act on the data we give them to further improve their products.”
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: austriamicrosystems
Based in Gratz, Austria, Western Europe’s hub for HF RFID, austriamicrosystems employs more than 1,300 people around the world. With the recent strategic acquisition of Texas Advanced Optoelectronic Solutions® Inc. (TAOS), austriamicrosystems just increased its worldwide footprint and gained an advantage in proximity and light sensing capability, all in one shot. “austriamicrosystems’ ICs are intrinsic to our RFID readers,” says Toni Heijari, one of the RF gurus of Nordic ID and the lead engineer responsible for the new Nordic ID UHF reader NUR 05W. “We also have a mutual interest in improving each other’s products,” Heijari continues, “and we collaborated quite closely in product development. Now we’re undertaking joint efforts in other areas as well.” Some of the ways that Nordic ID and austriamicrosystems are collaborating include joint promotion, active collaboration on IC development, and joint presence at trade shows such as RFID/USN Korea 2012 and RFID Jounal LIVE! 2012 in Orlando. It’s a relationship that Nordic ID and austriamicrosystems are both enthusiastic about fostering. “They are the best at what they do,” says Lalla, “and we’re not bad at what we do either, so the likelihood is that we will continue to hold each other to a
higher standard,” he smiles. One of austriamicrosystems’ many competitive advantages is their ability to tweak processes in the fabrication of silicon to suit particular applications. “For ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID applications,” explains Dickinson, “we bring out certain features in the course of Silicon Germanium (SiGe) processing that are more favourable for RFID processing.” With its own silicon fabrication plant, the company has become adept at optimizing base materials for specific circuits, in addition to the design of the circuits themselves. But the greatest advantage of the new IC lies in austriamicrosystems’ use of analog technology for protocol handling. For one thing, it allows them to keep power consumption down to 30% of competitor ICs. Dickson explains that because so much computing is accomplished in analog, only a simple microcontroller is required to run the chip. “Our competitors must use a bigger processor to control the chip,” he says, “and that requires a lot of power”. Power output, however, does not suffer as a result. The 100 mW internal power amplifier included in the IC is double anything else on the market for power output. Digitally controlled ICs also carry
well over 100 registers — the bits that change function parameters — compared to austriamicrosystems’ 32, further complicating design. Another characteristic unique to the Gratzbased manufacturer is that their ICs are the only ones in the world that allow the devices that they power to be used in any part of the world. With dense reader mode on the receiver, austriamicrosystems ICs deliver programmable filter functionality, enabling device users to change parameters for their region to meet local regulations. This eliminates the need for region-specific ICs that render the devices they power useless in other regions. Heijari sums the relationship with austriamicrosystems up well: “Their IC is a great product, the best in the world,” he says. “This is a company that is interested in our success, and we in theirs. It’s a very good partnership to have.” Mark Dickson RFID Marketing Manager austriamicrosystems
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NEW COMERS Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
Product: Nordic ID UHF RFID Reader NUR-05W
GREAT THINGS come in small packages
NORDIC ID UHF RFID READER NUR-05W If you ask a room full of computer engineers to name the single most important factor in choosing an RFID module for use in a mobile computer, a third of them will tell you that it’s power consumption. Another third will point to size, and the last third will maintain that output power is most important.
EFFICIENT, SMALL, POWERFUL All three reasons formed part of the decision to develop the new Nordic ID UHF RFID Reader NUR-05W. There was nothing as efficient, as small or as powerful for its size on the market, and that was limiting the performance and agility of the Nordic ID mobile computers. With an output of 500 milliwatts (mW), the power input of the Nordic ID UHF RFID Reader NUR-05W tops out with a maximum consumption of only 2.6 watts — 50% to 100% less than the consumption of competitive devices. “In this output power grade, it’s certainly the most efficient module available,” acknowledges Toni Heijari, Lead Engineer at Nordic ID and the man responsible for creating the Nordic ID UHF RFID Reader NUR-05W. “Although power efficiency is very high it is not achieved by compromising RFID performance.” The reader is also the smallest in its power class. What with the trend of downsizing mobile computers — in recent years moving from devices the size of a Star Wars stun gun to the sleekness of a mobile phone — the space inside of devices is at more of a premium than ever. MORE BELLS AND WHISTLES Size gives the Nordic ID UHF RFID Reader NUR-05W a distinct advantage, but there are many other benefits as well. For example, the device can also be machine-assembled, as there are no connectors or cables required. Other advantages include 5 programmable general purpose input/outputs (GPIOs) with event triggers, increased reading performance, comprehensive adjustability, and revolutionary inventory parameter autosensing capability. “We’ve had good feedback from clients,” affirms Heijari. “The application interface is highly developed, intuitive and provides full control. It makes it easy to get it up and running, and to customize parameters,” he adds. The Nordic ID UHF RFID Reader NUR-05W shows what ambitious planning can achieve. The device was built from the ground up — from specification targets to schematics, layout, components and testing. It now forms part of the full range of Nordic ID RFID mobile computers, and is also sold separately to RFID manufacturers. 48 • Nordic IDea
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Nordic ID
Product: Nordic ID Sampo Demo Software
Making software truly user-friendly NORDIC ID SAMPO DEMO SOFTWARE APPEALS TO ENGINEERS AND STORE MANAGERS ALIKE If there’s one thing you don’t want in a software demo, it’s having to spend half an hour trying to understand how to make it work.
THE PRIORITY IS USABILITY In the world of high tech, two sets of software are often written: one for the engineer, and one for end users. But that didn’t make sense to engineers tasked with designing a software demo for the new Nordic ID Sampo S1 RFID reader, the company’s first fixed RFID Reader. “Our aim is for everyone, from engineers to end-users, to be able to use the same software,” says Turo Rantanen, Software Designer at Nordic ID. Whereas competitors’ software products are often designed exclusively for the use of engineers, Rantanen believes that properly designed, highly usable software should also work outside the laboratory. “Even if you’re not familiar with RFID, you can quickly become so, by playing with the program. And because everyone can use the same software, it helps to test the system, the environment and the different use cases without writing any lines of program code.”
The demo software interface is attractive and highly usable. A menu of six orange icons line the left hand side, showing the categories of function that the user might choose: 1. Connected: Shows connectivity status and device details 2. Easy inventory: With only a few settings, this function is meant for quick reading tests and users with little RFID knowledge 3. Advanced test inventory: Used for in-depth reading performance tests. Users can tweak vast numbers of reading-related settings supported by the RFID reader to experience how they affect performance in different use cases 4. Tag write: This functionality enables reading and writing anywhere in an RFID tag’s memory within the limitations set by the tag chip.
5. Channel scanner: Monitors whether an RFID frequency band is being used by other RF sources in order to minimize noise-related reading performance 6. Debugger: A diagnostic tool that allows programmers to monitor data traffic between the RFID reader, PC, and the driver The first setting, easy inventory, was created more to introduce the software to retail staff, while advanced inventory has enough detail to satisfy any engineer. But even advanced inventory functionality is quite accessible to regular staff. “Reactions have been very positive,” says Rantanen. “The focus on software demo usability is paying off and, we hope, will serve to enhance preference for Nordic ID products.”
LESS IS MORE Although highly sophisticated, putting together an application like the Nordic ID RFID Demo wasn’t an enormous task, thanks in great part to Nordic ID’s application programming interface for RFID devices. The API allows application developers to create complex applications with fewer lines of code, reducing effort needed for application development. According to Rantanen, less than ten lines of program code can initialize the reader and allow it to inventory an entire warehouse. Nordic IDea • 49
RFID CASE STUDY www.fabricom.com www.phidata.eu
BELGIAN CONSTRUCTION GIANT
FABRICOM Implements RFID asset tracking A FLOCK OF NORDIC ID MERLIN HF RFID MOBILE COMPUTERS DEPLOYED TO TRACK 92,000 ASSETS With tens of thousands of tools located in 6 depots across the country, Belgium’s leading construction services company Fabricom wanted more transparent, real-time visibility of the movement of materials and supplies. RFID tagging was chosen as the method to increase efficiency and optimize utilization rates, ultimately helping to provide better customer service. Last year Fabricom, part of the GDF Suez group of companies, embarked on an initial RFID implementation to track 92,000 tools and assets of different kinds. The company centrally allocates tools to its various divisions on an internal ‘rental’ basis. The system works well, but with 6 tool depots and dozens of projects on the go at any given time it is fraught with logistical challenges. Tool identification was especially challenging, as engraved ID numbers would become illegible. Given that correct identification is paramount for proper life cycle management,
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especially considering that some tools regularly need to pass inspections, Fabricom knew that a better tool management system was essential. PHI DATA BRINGS IN GLUE EXPERTS To spearhead the project Fabricom selected PHI DATA, a Belgian leader in AUTO-ID integration and asset tracking expert. PHI DATA’s first step was to perform an extensive study on suitable tag types, frequency, shape and affixing method. The process involved subjecting tags to intense testing, including submersion in water and oil, wrenching and hammering. In the end Fabricom selected three types of HF tags for accurate close range reading, each to be used on a different group of assets ranging from power drills to compressors, ladders, scaffolding and safety gear such as snaps, hooks and D-shackles.
“A big challenge was finding a quick, fail-safe method of attaching tags,” says Erik Cotman, Business Development Manager, RFID & RTLS at PHI DATA. “We ended up developing custom metal tags and bringing in glue experts. You can’t wait 20 minutes for glue to dry before moving tools when you’re tagging 92,000 of them.” So far about 10,000 high value items such as generators, jackhammers and saws have been tagged. NORDIC ID: BEST CHOICE In addition to the SAP module, Fabricom’s new system consists of bespoke software created by PHI DATA, and Nordic ID Merlin HF RFID mobile computers. For the past three years PHI DATA has relied almost exclusively on Nordic ID for accurate scanning in RFID implementations. “We have built an RFID business unit separate from our mobility unit,” explains Cotman. “As you can imagine
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Hanna Östman / Nordic ID
we have become quite discerning when it comes to RFID equipment. Most RFID terminal manufacturers add RFID to existing barcode terminals. But Nordic ID products are built from the ground up to read RFID. The result is better performance than you find with most any solution on the market today.” There are 30 Nordic ID Merlin HF RFID mobile computers currently in use at Fabricom, busy loading tagged assets into the company’s enterprise resource management system. The units are also equipped with barcode reading
capability, as this is a requirement in shipping assets to different sites.
Product: Nordic ID Merlin HF RFID
By tagging all assets, Fabricom will have real-time visibility into where the tools are and have gone. Once the model is proven, Fabricom intends to extend RFID tracking beyond depots to construction sites and other project locations. Crates in which tools are packed will have their own RFID tags, and a Wi-Fi based system will give Fabricom real time access to all tool movement in and out of depots and construction sites.
100 % ASSET CONTROL
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RFID CASE STUDY Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Shutterstock & Mieloo & Alexander
TAMING THE TANGLED LOGISTICS OF A GROWING INDUSTRY
implements Nordic ID solution Imagine 15,000 trolleys loaded with plants coming from 400 suppliers, getting repacked and shipped out to 350 different shops in the space of a single day. That’s the situation at Baas Plantenservice’s horticultural distribution centres in Holland during peak season, from March to May. Now imagine keeping track of those comings and goings with clipboards, telephone calls and email.
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CROSSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE Until recently, horticulture distribution powerhouse Baas Plantenservice relied heavily on paper lists, which were then transcribed into a database. “The process inevitably involved some human error,” says Edwin van Lenthe, Logistics Manager at Baas. “But there was also a lag in getting information from paper into our computer system. A one-hour delay, when you’ve got hundreds of trucks rolling in, is a problem.” In January 2011 Container Centralen, the company that provides trolleys and trolley maintenance contracts to greenhouses, rolled out an initiative tagged ‘Chip It’. The undertaking saw the company tag more than 3.5 million trolleys across Europe with EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags. Container Centralen wanted better control over its trolleys — the industry standard in the horticulture market. Baas Plantenservice took one look at the new trackable trolleys coming into its facilities and saw an opportunity for its own operations. Convinced of the efficiencies of RFID and encouraged by an influx of tagcarrying trolleys — an investment borne by Container Centralen—Baas Plantenservice decided to set up a pilot program. They enlisted the assistance of Dutch systems integrator Mieloo & Alexander, who set up their Scan Green RFID Supply Chain Platform, as well as Qurius, ERP integration experts. To
feed the system they used Nordic ID Merlin and Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers with cross dipole antenna and RFID/barcode scanning capability. NORDIC ID THE PREFERRED PARTNER Sander Merkx, Director and Partner at Mieloo & Alexander, says his company chooses to work with Nordic ID when the decision is theirs to make. “We’ve involved Nordic ID on maybe 15 projects since the end of 2007. Their devices demonstrate consistently reliable reading behaviour, which is very important for user operated scanners,” he says. “Our development team has truly mastered the devices, and also Nordic ID support is very good.” Baas Plantenservice implemented the pilot during the summer of 2011 in collaboration with four of their main growers. These suppliers were provided with Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers running Mieloo & Alexander’s Scan Green RFID Picking software. Growers would scan products to associate them with trolley tags. Data was then sent by Wi-Fi, UMTS, or cradle to the ScanGreen Supply Chain platform, which passed it on to the ScanGreen receiving application running at the server level and on Nordic ID Merlin mobile computers at BAAS distribution centres. Once trolleys were scanned on the receiving dock and the data was verified against that which growers had scanned, the information was passed on to BAAS’ ERP system.
Products: Nordic ID Merlin UHF RFID Cross Dipole Nordic ID Morphic UHF RFID Cross Dipole
Receiving trolleys at BAAS is now an efficient process requiring nothing more than a quick scan of each trolley with Nordic ID Merlin mobile computers. “Before, trolley control from grower to distribution centre and back again was effective but not efficient,” says van Lenthe. “Now it’s both.” Supply chain transparency boosts profit In January 2012 Baas began working with 50 of their most important growers, representing 50% of inbound volume, to track inbound trolleys and take advantage of the tags they carried. “When trolley administration is completed automatically it saves growers time as well,” says van Lenthe. “The system creates a more transparent, faster supply chain, helping to increase profit margin. Certainly, growers that participate will share in more revenue.” The next stage of the roll-out has already begun. It involves streamlining the flow of goods between BAAS Plantenservice and customers in Germany as part of the German-Dutch Interreg IVa Project RAAS (RFID Application And Support). In addition to increasing the visibility of the flow of goods, which will enable new collaboration potential in the near future, BAAS Plantenservice also expects to gain better control of returnable assets between supplier and retail operations. As this is a pain point for many suppliers, a proven solution will definitely generate a lot of interest!
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RFID ARTICLE www.nordicid.com
RFID: The medical miracle RFID tops the chart in medicine with vastly increased safety, efficiency and ROI Atsushi Koshio is Director of Healthcare Business at medRF, a wireless health strategy consultancy based in Tokyo. He has a finger on the pulse of Japan’s healthcare industry, where wireless solutions have flourished since the 1990s. Mobile technology, he thinks, has the potential to change healthcare. But the kind of wireless technology that could make the greatest impact, radio frequency identification (RFID), has not been widely adopted.
horizon. “As the technology becomes more ubiquitous, prices drop across the board on tags, readers and associated devices,” he says. “Other supply chains are now using RFID end-to-end and I think that it won’t be long before we see wholesale adoption in the field of medicine. Besides, it’s a perfect fit with the criticality of healthcare.”
on the ceiling or beside a door.
RFID KEY TO TRACKABLE PROCESSES AND DATA
RFID INCREASES BLOOD TRACKING SAFETY & EFFICIENCY
“RFID is not just key to making better use of physical assets,” says Koshio. “It can have a substantial impact on patient safety. It also has the potential to produce a phenomenal return on investment. But high up front costs are still proving to be a significant barrier to entry, given the state of the economy.”
When human lives hang in the balance, RFID may indeed be a perfect fit. RFID tags have the capacity to record new data almost indefinitely, resulting in mountains of information attached to the item or person in question, reducing the possibility of error and obviating the need to scan and connect to a remote database.
To date, RFID has made some important inroads in various healthcare niches around the world. At a blood processing center on the Spanish island of Mallorca, for example, RFID has increased efficiency, safety and maximized the use of a perishable resource.
Cost of entry for RFID may be high relative to other kinds of wireless technology but so are returns, believes Jorma Lalla, whose company Nordic ID has been busy optimizing RFID technology for the past 15 years. The CEO of the Salo, Finland-based RFID mobile computer manufacturer sees change on the
Jorma Lalla is CEO of Nordic ID, a leading manufacturer of readers for data collection based in Salo, Finland’s Silicon Valley and home to mobile phone giant Nokia. 54 • Nordic IDea
RFID tags can form part of a hospital wristband, a blood product label, a biomedical implant or any medical device. They can be tiny or large, immersible or flexible. Unlike barcodes, tags can also be read from meters away, for example by an interrogator mounted
Atsushi Koshio is Director of Healthcare Business at medRF, a wireless health strategy consultancy based in Tokyo, Japan.
Koshio and Lalla both agree that affordability is the single largest barrier in the health sector worldwide. “But it’s definitely where wireless use in healthcare will end up,” says Koshio. “The advantages of RFID over any other technology are just so overwhelming.”
Traditional, barcode-based blood product tracking meant unpacking crates of frozen blood bags and scanning or reading each bag in turn — no small task with 30,000 bags packed 80 to a crate in a deep freezer. A complicating factor is that each bag was tagged with up to six barcodes as it passed through the stages of its journey. These all needed to be scanned at each step. RFID tags have shortcut the process by storing all information — including a record of ambient temperature over time — on each bag’s re-recordable RFID tag. Staff can quickly find blood bags by scanning up to 400 bags per second and drilling down to see all the information associated with any bag. Because it used to take so long to find the right bag in subarctic temperatures, staff might have ended their search more quickly by sending a 28-day old bag of blood of the correct type. Now the optimal bag — that closest to expiry — is quickly found and put to use, maximizing a precious resource.
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Image: Nordic ID
HOSPITAL RETURNS 186% ON RFID INVESTMENT RFID recently hit the mainstream at a major California hospital when the health centre became one of the first in the U.S. to jump high and clear over the RFID cost barrier. In May 2010, Mission Hospital, the largest healthcare provider in Orange County, rolled out a hybrid RFID/ infrared tracking system. Mike Kohler, the hospital’s Director of Material Management, has never looked back. He pegs ROI to date at 186%. “I don’t know how a large medical centre can continue to maintain all the different parameters they have to and be state of the art without RFID,” states Kohler. “It simplifies processes, drives down costs and you can literally raise your ability to care for patients.” The system implemented at Mission Hospital is designed to improve logistics by keeping track of medical devices. Each carries an RFID tag that tracks whereabouts as well as parameters such as last maintenance and/or cleaning. With a few keystrokes, administrators and medical professionals can locate all devices. This has boosted device utilization rates and eliminated equipment rentals and hoarding, a common problem in hospitals worldwide. Equipment shrinkage has also dropped from $150,000 per year to zero.
Name: Address: SYMPTOMS:
Inefficiency, high costs, patient safety issues. CURE:
Take a healthy dose of RFID. plans to capitalize on the greatest advantage of all: RFID’s capacity to improve patient care. The upcoming expansion of Mission’s RFID system will center on ways to reduce crosscontamination — especially hand washing, the number one preventer of cross-infection in hospital environments. Should they neglect to wash their hands as they move in and out of patient rooms, healthcare professionals will receive alerts on their mobile devices.
their resilience beyond question in virtually every industry,” observes Koshio, “healthcare is moving wholesale into wireless communication adoption. We’re at the cusp of a new era centered around RFID.” Kohler couldn’t agree more. “I believe that within 15 years, virtually all healthcare processes will be electronically managed. The human component will center more around stocking and moving equipment, not managing it.”
WHY IS HEALTHCARE SLOW TO ADOPT RFID?
As exemplified by blood product tracking on Spain’s Balearic Islands, more than just equipment and people will be managed: blood products, neural implants. cardiac valves, bone morphogenic proteins and tissue implants all have expiration dates and need to be stored at the correct temperature and humidity. RFID can help to better manage such precious resources, saving money and lives.
The logistical and financial advantages are real, but Kohler sees that as just the start. “Mission has a large trauma wing with lots of specialized equipment, some of which is called into use on other floors. When a trauma case comes in, it’s critical to have that equipment ready and waiting. Since it’s now tagged, we can get it back within a minute or two, ready for the patient’s arrival. And in the U.S. healthcare system, that’s a marketable strategic advantage.”
Considering all the benefits and the return on investment, the question that many logistics professionals are asking themselves is ‘Why hasn’t every hospital implemented RFID already?’ Part of the reason has to do with the global healthcare industry’s main objection to adopting ICT solutions in general: business continuity. When the ability to provide patient care is so crucial — no matter what happens — you’ve got to be absolutely certain that you can trust your systems. It’s the reason why hospitals have generators for back-up power: to maintain the ability to provide care, come hell or high water. Paper may be hard to keep track of, but historically it has been very reliable.
Kohler is most excited about future
“Now that ICT solutions have proven
FINANCIAL RETURNS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING
“If it were simply a replacement for existing technology,” says Lalla, “RFID would continue its slow growth in the field of healthcare. The fact is that RFID enables hospitals to do things that they have never done before, like enforcing hand washing and eliminating hoarding and shrinkage. This is huge. It won’t be long before the global healthcare sector wakes up to the tremendous advantages of RFID.”
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CASE STUDIES Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Images: Valskyn
FISH LOGISTICS MADE SIMPLE Icelandic fishing giant improves logistics accuracy with RF reading With 700 employees, HB Grandi is one of the largest fishing companies in Iceland and a leader in both sustainable fishing and processing expertise. The company places great importance on using the latest advances in technology for its fishing and processing operations. Since HB Grandi markets its groundfish and pelagic — or open sea fish products — worldwide, the logistics of handling orders and shipments can be complicated. With 2,000 to 3,000 pallets of frozen fish sent out in the average month, keeping track of everything on paper is fraught with issues. To improve the accuracy and speed up logistics, the company implemented a new way of scanning and registering pallets of seafood products directly online into its Dynamics NAV enterprise resource planning system.
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SHIPPING WITH EASE Catch Landing Manager Birgir Thorisson, for one, is glad to have a new system. “We load 60 to 100 shipping containers per month, with 20 pallets to the container,” he says. “When we kept track of things manually, we might occasionally have forgotten one pallet and have to take everything out to find out what we missed. That doesn’t happen anymore.” To help them launch the project, HB Grandi engaged Reykjavik-based Maritech, a Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution partner. A key objective was to identify and select product orders/ invoices or location movements in the management system before scanning seafood product barcodes with a handheld device to identify that number. This allows, for example, a manager the ability to verify work that’s been flagged as completed in the management system. Then, if changes are required, he has the ability to correct it right away with the handheld. NORDIC ID RF HANDHELDS CHOSEN Maritech began by implementing a solution including the Nordic ID RF601 handheld terminals with base station
and repeater for extended range. The exceptionally robust Nordic ID RF601 works within its own network, including circumstances where WLAN or 3G are not an option. At a later date HB Grandi added Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers with Nordic ID RF601 emulation. Since then, the company began migrating to WLAN-based communication. The next evolution involves testing Nordic ID Morphic mobile computers with both WLAN and 3G technologies. This will enable an automatic switch to 3G communication and back when WLAN range is exceeded, for example on company piers. PROJECT SUCCESS HB Grandi is pleased with the success of the project, as direct input of orders has led to a more efficient registration process. The company has added the Nordic ID Morphic mobile computer with RF emulator to the mix, since it is smaller, has an advanced display and communicates via 3G in addition to WLAN. To date, three other Icelandic seafood companies have followed suit, also implementing a Nordic ID RF601based system.
Text: Carl Michener / ID BBN Image: Hrafn
TECHNOLOGY BROKER AND STANDARDISATION EXPERT CHOOSES NORDIC ID. HRAFN is Scandinavia’s leading RFID systems designer and architect. They provide advice, knowledge services and sometimes solutions for major players in a variety of industries including retail, oil and gas, transportation and logistics, construction and manufacturing. HRAFN — meaning ‘raven’ in Norse (Norse = Norwegian mythology) — designs systems with an emphasis on tracking assets’ life cycles, not just the process itself. The company does its best to follow EPC Global’s architecture framework and to use EPC Information Service (EPCIS) for traceability in the solutions they design. “We focus on ideal systems design,” says Geir Vevle, the company’s CTO. “We don’t rely on the same partners time after time as a matter of course — we’re vendor agnostic. Instead we choose the optimal partners and suppliers for the project and for customer needs.”
BUILDING PREFERENCE FOR NORDIC ID For a vendor agnostic company, HRAFN has chosen to work with Nordic ID quite a few times. Vevle attributes this to the
HRAFN PROJECTS FEATURE NORDIC ID
quality and functionality of Nordic ID products. “What I particularly like about Nordic ID mobile computers is the ability to read long, short and medium ranges with the same platform and only changing the configuration,” he says. ”Plus reading capability under adverse conditions is excellent.”
Nordic ID has formed part of five HRAFN solutions over the past three years, all of them in Norway. Here are a few examples:
Bogart is a high-end fashion retail chain based in Trondheim, Norway. With thousands of items to manage, the retailer has been using Nordic ID mobile computers for the past three years, both for inventory purposes and to find items on the shop floor, with Geiger counter functionality. When Bogart follows through with an upgrade of its storewide IT network, it will extend RFID functionality across the chain.
CASE: NORSK LASTBÆRER POOL
Norsk Lastbærer Pool (NLP) is a Norwegian food industry organization established to manage a nationwide pool of millions of pallets travelling between more than 800 industry players. NLP is currently piloting an RFID portal system with a small group of member companies. “The total potential payout is huge,” says Tom Romanich, Marketing Manager at NLP. He estimates the cost of RFID portals at one fifth, on average, of what is now being spent on manual inventory counts. Other efficiencies, including lower pallet costs and improved logistics are some of the many other potential benefits.
Reinertsen is a major Norwegian civil engineering, construction, and petroleum industry supply company. As part of a HRAFN-led effort to improve logistics, Reinertsen began affixing RFID tags to 4,000 pieces of equipment in January 2011. By tracking the movement of high value items in and out of their storage area — including pumps, generators, concrete vibrators and other electrical devices — Reinertsen was able to make better use of assets and improve the accuracy of construction site equipment orders.
HRAFN decided on the choice of Nordic ID together with Lexit, the project’s system integrator. “We had a good experience with Nordic ID mobile computers and not such a good one with other brands,” says Vevle. Romanich has identified some kinks to work out with stationary readers on the project, but is entirely satisfied with Nordic ID readers.
“At this point, every new company project provisioned with equipment from the new storage facility get eqipment that is tagged” says Vevle. “The next phase involves better control of remote projects, by tracking everything while it’s on site.” To date, Reinertsen has made use of the Nordic ID Merlin mobile computer with Cross Dipole antenna, as well as the Nordic ID Morphic.
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FINNISH ID www.klodesign.fi
Nordic ID got a new look for its
At the end of 2011, 25 years had passed since Nordic ID was founded. To celebrate the occasion, Nordic ID asked Klo Design to design a new and unique print for the company. Now the stylish corporate design is already used in several contexts.
The handheld terminals and mobile computers of Nordic ID are known for their good ergonomics and ease of use, says Group Marketing Director Mirva Saarijärvi. So when the process of updating the corporate design started last autumn, Nordic ID decided to complete it with a new print that
BIRTHDAY would reflect the logic and simplicity of the products as well as their pure, Scandinavian design. THE LOOK STRENGTHENS THE BRAND AND THE IMAGE “To be convincing and to obtain the trust of its customers, a company must follow a consistent line in all of its products and materials. If for example an enterprise manufactures log cabins and accentuates ”Finnishness” and the appreciation of Finnish work, it’s a bad idea to use cheap bric-a-brac business gifts made in China”, says Klo Design CEO Dani Aavinen. Aavinen adds that when ordering business gifts from Asia, the minimum amount is often 1000 pieces, a relatively high number especially for small and midsize enterprises. Run by two designers, a textile printer and a seamstress, the Finnish Klo Design
manufactures unique made-to-order products regardless whether you need only a few dozens or a couple of thousand pieces. The products are both designed and manufactured in the enterprise premises, but when a big lot is required, three Finnish sewing ateliers offer their assistance. By ordering unique, high-quality gifts from a Finnish enterprise, which match your corporate identity, you avoid a situation where your customer receives the same massproduced “trend product” from several competitors as well. CLEAR, ELEGANT DESIGN REFLECTS THE COMPANY STYLE When Nordic ID and Klo Design met to discuss the new corporate design, the goals were clear and they quickly hit it off. Although an external company had modernized the Nordic ID look in the
Text: Linda Hägerstrand-Immonen / ID BBN Images: Klo Design
2000’s, bringing it further away from the technical and “engineery” style of earlier years, the look did not quite reach the true essence of the company. The orange colour of the previous design was updated and accompanied with newcomers light grey and white. This fresh colour combination clearly distinguishes Nordic ID from the other enterprises in the same field who favour black and different shades of dark blue and dark green. Nordic ID incorporated the print developed by Klo Design into their new refreshed company design. The main roles in the print are played by RFID technology, applications and products, which are represented by stylized images. One element is a somewhat James Bond-like character surrounded by several circles and holding a RFID reader. This can be interpreted as the radio frequency supporting and protecting the productivity of retail, or the RFID technology of Nordic ID. The new corporate design was launched at the end of last year as a part of the 25year festivities. But where will the new design be seen? Mirva Saarijärvi gives a long list of present and future targets. The design is already visible in the decoration canvases and pillows in the reception lobby and later in the curtains as well. Klo Design also makes laptop cases, cell phone pouches and toilet bags, which will be used as Nordic ID business and
internal gifts. In addition to all this, a customer can spot the new look at trade fairs and as an imaginary clothes collection in the demo area imitating a real shop. Not to forget the electronic media and advertising: the look of the home page, emails, social media, and printed material has also been refreshed.
At its fastest, Klo Design can have everything ready from the design to the finished products in only a month. Nevertheless, Aavinen emphasizes that finding an appealing corporate design is worth investing both thought and time so that it can be used for years to come.
COMPETITION Explore your creativity with Mimmi, the paper doll!
Participate in the Double bubble design competition! All designs will be featured at the Nordic ID facebook page and the winning design will be part of the Double Bubble Collection 2013!