Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hospitals Extend RFID and RTLS to New Applications

As service organizations driven by process efficiency and patient safety, hospitals have been an "early adopter" of RTLS and RFID asset tracking.   Early applications included monitoring the location of medical equipment in patient rooms, as well as monitoring patients and medical staff. 

Now primary care providers are deploying RFID asset tracking in more diversified settings and applications, from inventory management of consumables and supplies to process compliance in central sterile and in-house testing labs. 

Common RFID-enabled processes in Hospitals include:

  • Specimen Tracking
  • Managing Medication Across Multiple Supply Locations
  • Surgical Instrument Processing
Surgical instrument processing is well suited to RFID automation, which enables error proofing the intake, inspection, sterilization and kitting of surgical instruments and scopes, as illustrated below:

Automating a Medical Scope Tracking Process with RFID

Thursday, March 20, 2014

RFID in O&G - Multiple Use Cases for Multi-Faceted Operations

When asked by an Oil and Gas firm "Why Should We Use RFID?" our conversation ultimately leads to process challenges within the business.  Oil and Gas firms are complex entities, that may span operations as diverse as Exploration and Production to Petroleum Refining to Retail.   

So sometimes an Oil and Gas firm can be like a Chemical company, a Consumer Goods Manufacturer, a Retailer, a Mining company.  

We summarized some of the facets of an O&G firm (and some of the most common use cases specific to RFID) in the table below.

We'll keep refining (no pun intended) the list of use cases as we go along.

Friday, February 28, 2014

RFID's Role in Healthcare Process Automation

RTLS and RFID have played an important role in improving Healthcare process efficiency, tracking medical equipment, staff and patients in busy hospital facilities.

RFID is now being used as an automation tool, much as it has been in industrial manufacturing, to monitor and manage critical process flows in hospitals and laboratories.  Central sterile and laboratory processes require the same checks and balances as complex assembly processes, after all.  Building a surgical kit, and managing the disinfection cycle of surgical instruments is not much different than kitting shipments in a manufacturing facility or managing materials in a clean room environment.

At the HIMSS show this month, we demonstrated a surgical instrument tracking application with RFID using a Motorola handheld reader and ruggedized tags from Xerafy.  It resulted in many interesting discussions on how process automation may be one of the hidden benefits of an Intelligent Hospital.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

RFID and RTLS in Healthcare and Life Sciences [Infographic]

It's a common misconception that there's only one use case for RTLS and RFID in Healthcare: tracking hospital equipment across patient rooms.   We're seeing primary care providers, testing labs and pharmaceutical manufacturers implementing the technology for dozens of other use cases, within core operations and across the value chain.  The infographic below illustrates some of these applications.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The RFID Retail Landscape for 2014 (and what LP Leaders need to know)

RFID technology has experienced rapid adoption in Retail over the past 12 months.  Far from being a standalone technology, retailers see RFID-enabled inventory management as providing the core infrastructure for Omni-Channel retailing.

The adoption curve for RFID-enabled retailing commonly looks like this:

What LP (Loss Prevention) leaders need to know is that they can, and should play a key role in the RFID planning process.  An RFID-enabled inventory program often uncovers hidden sources of shrink, highlighting LP's impact on inventory accuracy.  In addition, RFID inventory data can benefit LP by uncovering patterns of ORC and internal theft, which are hard to track using traditional methods.

We're holding an online event on December 12 to discuss trends, technologies and deployment tips for RFID in Retail, featuring:

  • The research team behind the 2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer
  • A 500+ store specialty retailer deploying RFID-based EAS for omni-channel inventory and loss prevention
  • An LP industry luminary from the National Retail Federation and Disney Stores

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Harsh Reality for RFID & RTLS -- It's About the ROI

Just presented at RFID Journal's RFID in Harsh Environments event on the evolving business case and ROI metrics for RFID.   The definition of "Harsh Environments" is quite broad, but it generally applies to extreme temperatures/operating conditions, remote worksites and hazardous or highly-regulated materials.   Harsh Environments span multiple industries including Oil & Gas, ChemicalsAerospace & Defense, Healthcare and Industrial Equipment -- as shown below:
RFID Application Areas in Harsh Environments

Once we get past the definition of a harsh environment, it's important to look at the value drivers for RFID and RTLS (we support all Auto-ID modalities, so we use the terms interchangeably).   The industries listed above, by nature, have complex asset management challenges that are well suited to RFID automation.   We see three primary drivers for RFID adoption in harsh environments:
  1. Cost Pressure -- where 100s of millions of dollars/euros/pounds of capital equipment impacts working capital allocation -- a reduction in redundant equipment or write-off/repair of non-working assets can have an impact on operating profit.
  2. New Programs -- with new exploration projects, aircraft programs, infrastructure projects comes revenue opportunity -- and customer scrutiny.  Customers are increasingly demanding transparency for programs in progress - not just at critical milestones.  RFID visibility can help provide this transparency, leading to stronger partnerships and minimizing the risk of contract breach.
  3. Operational Risk -- the only way to address compliance, audit and safety issues is to build error proofing into the process automation. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

RFID & RTLS in Healthcare - Part 2 - What Assets to Track?

A common myth in healthcare is that RTLS and RFID are only used to track the location and movement of medical equipment.  

But that neglects the fact that healthcare and life science firms have infrastructure to maintain like every other business. Hospitals, pharmaceutical firms and research labs have capital equipment that needs to be tracked and traced; IT assets; consumables and supplies; tissue samples; tools; vehicles and transportation devices.

And location is not the only thing that needs to be tracked. Since consumables and tissue samples are perishable and specialized equipment needs to be regularly calibrated, maintained and/or sterilized, updating an asset's location along with its current status helps ensure patient safety. 

The following table lists examples of assets tracked with RFID in Healthcare: