Monday, January 27, 2014

Active Shelf System - RFID Tracking for Retail Inventories

Whenever we walk into a big store like the Giant Eagle, we have always wondered to see how efficiently they have managed their inventory to find all the products we need. Losses due to out-of-stock shelf merchandise are expected to negatively impact at least 4% of annual gross store sales. These are big loss numbers, but think about the impact of loss on brand loyalty to the supplier and retailer. The amount of time spent by customers by looking for an out of stock brand or the loss of productivity when employee is trying to find stock in the warehouse.

                                                                          Active Shelf System

Current traditional approaches to improving merchandise availability problems have had limited effectiveness. Many companies have addressed the problem with CCTVs, locking shelf mechanisms, or electronic article surveillance. Earlier attempts to use RFID technology required tags to be placed on all the required items. This was found to be cost-prohibitive for many retailers, largely due to the label cost and labor to tag the items. Quality and timely information are essential to combating merchandise availability problems.

Inventory tracking system is an affordable method of conducting continuous inventory counts in retail stores, 
stockrooms, pharmacies, libraries, and warehouses. It allows automated tracking of assets in libraries, 
document storage facilities, and data tape archives.The assets that can be traced are those items that can be 
stored on-end on a shelf, and that lend themselves to RFID tagging, such as books, data tapes, and document 
binders. A single RDID reader is combined with a multitude of antennas which are placed within the shelving 
units to create inventory zones, which are continuously updated and monitored.

How it works:

The RFID Enabled Active Shelf System works by placing RFID antennas within each shelf to monitor signals from UHF Gen 2 tags placed on each product. The antennas send information through our hybrid multiplexer which then transmits the data to a central RFID reader. This reader is connected to your database via a hard-wired connection or wireless infrastructure. Inventory levels are then available through a web interface or an XML feed from the system.

When an RFID scan is initiated, all shelves in the system are read sequentially, and the software generates a list of unique asset tag numbers read. The system then queries the asset database to retrieve detail information pertaining to each corresponding asset, and displays a paged list of base asset information such as tag ID and description/title.

The RFID Active Shelf can be set-up to read either High-Frequency (HF) or Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) RFID tags.  As RFID standards evolve, your investment in the system is protected because you can switch to different frequencies and tag formats.



The system allows an administrator to generate the following possible reports:
·         Inventory/Location Report 
·         In-Stock (checked in) current snapshot
·         Checked in over a specific time period
·         Checked out snapshot
·         Checked out over a specific time period
·         Overdue assets
·         Misplaced Items (not checked out, not at designated location, but appearing in another location)
·         Missing items (not checked out, not appearing at any RFID location)
·         List of all assets with current location/status (checked in or out)
·         List of all users and their last activity
·         Asset activity report over specified time period

  • Automated tracking of item-level inventory and asset locations, eliminating manual counting of assets.
  • Reduces labor costs by automating the inventory process.
  • Increases customer satisfaction by providing up-to-date information on asset availability and location.
  • Increases security for sensitive assets by automating access controls and alerts.

Retail clothing stores often have issues with items not being placed in their proper location. Misplaced items result in many hours of lost productivity each day when sales people have to look for product.  Even worse, you risk lost sales when customers cannot find a particular item in a certain size.  By implementing an Active Shelf system, each item is tracked, so your sales staff know if you have a shirt of a in a certain size somewhere in the store, and where it is. This will help turn-over your inventory more rapidly as well as improve customer service by allowing your staff to serve each customer more efficiently and help them find what they need in less time.

Isn't this really cool ? It helps for the efficient management of inventory levels at various retail stores. Is this the future of retail inventory management ? The smart shelf automatically indicates to the store supervisors with the inventory levels for each product. Can't this technology be applied to all the other industries as well ?



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