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  • Editing Team 16:26 on February 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: accuracy, ,   

    GE Plans to Develop RFID-Guided Robots for Surgical Tools Instrument 

    GE-Global-robots-manage-surgical-tools-rfid-blogScientists at GE Global Research are working with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to develop a robotic system to manage the transporting, cleaning and storage of surgical tools at VA hospitals, using RFID to help automate the process.

    The solution is expected to include several forms of robotics designed to move tools through the sterilization process, as well as to and from operating rooms. RFID is expected to be used to ensure that proper tools are in the correct kits at various points throughout the sterilization processes, as well as to create a record of the processes completed on those tools.

    A robotic device on wheels could first pick up a kit filled with soiled tools post-surgery, and later return the kit and tools to the dirty side of the sterile processing center. GE plans to test a variety of scenarios, including a robot using RFID for path planning with a built-in reader and tags deployed around a facility to help guide its movements.

    While the solution is intended to reduce infection rates, many more benefits have been identified, including an improvement in the efficiency of surgery and scheduling, since kit accuracy is higher and instrument-counting time is lower. Moreover, the system could reduce setup and room turnaround times, as well as optimize inventory accuracy.

    All details are still open for consideration. Once the prototype is completed in 2014, it will be demonstrated at a VA hospital for three months, in order to obtain feedback from a variety of VA hospitals and personnel.

  • Editing Team 12:44 on January 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: accuracy, , labor, ,   

    JC Penney Slows Down RFID Rollout Pace 

    JC-Penney-rfid-blogRon Johnson, CEO of JC Penney, shocked the RFID industry a little bit last summer when he said in an interview that JCP would be virtually 100% RFID-enabled in its stores by Feb. 1st, 2013. JCP had already been rolling out RFID capabilities in store in several product categories for the usual benefits in inventory accuracy and reduced store labor.

    Johnson observed that “You go to most retail stores, all you see is people doing work to execute the retail strategy. It’s stocking shelves and transacting business,” adding that about 10% of its labor spend in store, or half a billion dollars a year, is involved in processing transactions at traditional POS terminals.

    “That’s going to all change, because of how we use Wi-Fi, RFID, mobile checkout,” Johnson said. “You’ll be able to check out anywhere anytime, from anyone including yourself, because we’re going to roll out self-checkout to our stores next year, and it’s really cool and it’s really easy because it’s RFID-based.”

    He added that RFID would have big benefits for the consumer over bar coding: “You don’t have to scan an item. You just throw it down and there’s the price,” Johnson said.

    However, news this week from several SCDigest readers say that Penney’s is slowing down the tagging tollout, meaning the company will be far from fully RFID-enabled by Feb. 1.

    So why the pull-back?

    “I think JC Penney was just caught in a sort of Rubik’s cube in terms of merchandising, store layout and product tagging,” one Penney’s vendor told SCDigest this week.

    “They are changing the merchandise plan, so there is no need to tag products that may be eliminated soon. Store layouts are also changing, being done in conjunction with the merchandise plan, and which include the ‘sores in store’ concept for things like Levi’s jeans and more. There are just too many moving and inter-connected parts to go forward with a full RFID rollout.”

    SCDigest’s view is that the explanation offered by the Penney’s vendor makes sense, the Johnson’s accelerated roll out was probably unrealistic, and that all new technologies take longer to adopt than expected.

  • Editing Team 09:06 on November 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: accuracy, , ,   

    American Apparel Reduces Inventory Shrinkage with RFID and Analytics 

    American-Apparel-inventory-shrinkage-RFID-blogA 10-store region of American Apparel locations use item-level RFID, advanced video analytics solutions and process improvements to greatly reduce inventory shrinkage and increase productivity number. These tools are parts of the efforts by the retailer to improve conversion rates and labor productivity.

    The stores in this region had strong customer traffic, but also had high shrink numbers. Later the retailer discovered that the problems resulted primarily from employee productivity and inventory issues.

    American Apparel had been an early adopter in the current resurgence of item-level RFID technology. The retailer has been expanding its use of RFID, from 5 stores when it began its deployment 4 years ago, to 150 stores now. As usage has expanded, the retailer’s understanding of the technology’s potential has also grown.

    “Originally the main focus was sales floor replenishment, which is how many retailers are using RFID technology,” says Stacey Shulman, American Apparel CTO. “Then our focus changed to inventory control and accuracy, and we’ve seen staggering improvements in our strengths there, along with improvements in sales. We’ve also seen shrink numbers drop on average by 55%, in some cases by 75%.”

    The combination of customer analytics technology, RFID implementations and improvements in store management and processes created a remarkable turnaround in the 10-store region. “We took a more holistic approach and focused on accountability, and we were also able to measure things that we could hold people accountable for,” says Shulman. “We reduced shrink by 75% in this region, and today it’s one of the best-performing regions in the chain.”

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