Track quality with this RFID tag
Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is not new and has been used to track goods for years, but it can now be used to monitor quality as well. MARISKA MORRIS learns more
For some time, farmers have been using RFID technology to track livestock. Numerous industries have also started using RFID technology to monitor goods, and the retail industry has been using it as an anti-theft system for years. Many industries have, however, been reluctant to adopt the technology as it is costly to implement and maintain.
However, a report by Zion Market Research on the global RFID market indicates that it will be valued at approximately US$ 25,4 billion (R348 billion) by 2010. It was valued at US$ 8,6 billion (R117 billion) in 2016.
How does it work? A RFID tag is placed on an object, which is then tracked with the use of scanners. The RFID tag could be anything from a bulky disc or key tag to a simple sticker. It is scanned into the system with a hand-held scanner and tracked with the use of fixed scanners, which are often mounted to walls.
This technology informs retailers when they are running low on certain items, as well as when an item is removed from a store. The same technology can be used in warehousing, or even to track files.
Several private hospitals use a sticker RFID tag to monitor patient files and other objects as they move through the hospital.
T-Systems South Africa – a technology-solutions company that offers this solution to hospitals – has taken the system a step further with RFID tags specifically aimed at the laundry services in hospitals.
The tag, developed by T-Systems, can be used to monitor the location of the laundry as well as its lifespan. T-Systems uses SAP programming to process and manage information supplied by the tags.
“The RFID technology can track the linen as it travels through different wards, while also tracking the number of times it is washed,” says Henri la Grange, SAP manager and technical stream leader at T-Systems South Africa.
“The tags are resistant to high temperatures and water, and can go through more than 100 washes,” he adds. This technology will enable hospitals to provide quality linen, as they will be able to identify linen that is no longer up to standard and replace it timeously.
“These tags can also be used in other sectors. The back-end SAP programming will work in any industry that has stock or material-management requirements,” La Grange notes. This quality-monitoring system has not yet been implemented, but T-Systems aims to introduce it by the first quarter of 2018.