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License Plate Recognition Access Control – How it Works

How do license plate recognition access control systems work? What features make them superior to other, less secure options? How can you choose the best access control system for your business or residential community? These are just some of the questions you should ask when choosing an access control system, and answers to these questions can be found in this comprehensive guide on license plate recognition access control systems.

omniQ vision solutions have been deployed globally using industry leading technology.


License plate recognition access control systems are essential for gated communities, office buildings, or enterprise facilities to meet safety and security goals. Traditional access control systems rely on key fobs or key cards, which can be misplaced or stolen. In contrast, license plate recognition is designed with robust safety features and superior technology to make gated community access control more effective and efficient. These applications use license plate recognition cameras and specialized software to read and interpret vehicle license plates as they pass through a gate arm entrance system.


While many of our competitors tout robust safety features and cutting-edge technology, omniQ takes pride in bringing new technologies to the market with significant benefits over existing solutions. Our unique system utilizes license plate recognition (LPR) technology to provide access control for gated communities, office buildings, or enterprise facilities. We’ve engineered our readers with superior quality, we can read the make, model, color, & license plate of any vehicle in 100 milliseconds or less allowing residents or employees seamless ingress & egress.


Security at Your Fingertips, Gated communities are becoming more common in North America, particularly in metropolitan areas like Miami, New York City, and Toronto. These closed communities offer security guards who monitor all entrances to ensure that unauthorized cars don’t enter; these guards rely on technology to make their jobs easier. Rather than manually checking car plates or drivers’ licenses, gated community security teams often opt for license plate recognition access control (LPR/AC) systems. When the guards are off the clock, our systems man the gates, anyone unauthorized will not be allowed access to the community.

Personalized control hub. Allows both admins & users to manage virtual permits.


A huge advantage of License Plate Recognition (LPR) access control for office buildings is that, unlike card readers, there are no electronics to jam or misread, No expensive tags to distribute to employees, & no worries disgruntled employees will still have access to the building making LPR a vital role in securing assets. You can even program the system to alert security if a particular vehicle arrives allowing you ample time to notify law enforcement.


As automated license plate recognition technology continues to gain traction, more enterprise companies are looking for access control solutions that take advantage of its enhanced safety features and superior A.I. technology. Knowing who is entering and exiting and knowing the exact details of the vehicle that entered and exited adds a layer of accountability & security like never before. Our systems also include comprehensive graphs and analytics allowing you to find creative ways to maximize your company’s resources. Our equipment is also rugged enough to effectively function in harsh weather conditions as well as high or low lighting.

License plate recognition access control is a great way to bring superior technology and robust safety features to your gated community, office building, or enterprise facility. By installing LPR-powered access control you can improve security while enhancing convenience for residents, employees, and visitors alike. If you want to learn more about omniQ’s access control systems give us a call today or request a demo at safety@omniQ.com!

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Barcode Custom Application Development Field Sales and Delivery RFID Hardware RFID Software Transportation and Logistics

High-Value Asset Management: The Best Methods for Tracking Your Equipment

Asset management is a challenge even when those assets are relatively static. For companies that utilize highly mobile and expensive assets (such as large trucks, shipping containers, expensive tools, etc.) the challenge is even greater. Assets and equipment are often deployed in the field for long stretches of time with little visibility. This makes it difficult to optimize asset utilization and also raises the risk of theft or loss.

There are a number of automatic identification technologies that can help provide real-time asset management capabilities in the field, but which type of technology is best will depend on the application and the environment.

Challenging Assets

Each industry has its own unique set of field assets and accompanying challenges:

Transportation/Logistics. Companies that manage large fleets of trucks, trailers, returnable shipping containers, and other equipment often lack visibility into exactly where these items are. This is especially true for containers or trailers that are dropped in customer yards. This makes it difficult to see how many are in circulation and where they are located. If there are dynamic changes in demand, it can be difficult to shift that supply, so companies purchase unnecessary containers to compensate.

Field Service. In addition to expensive vehicles, field service companies manage large inventories of expensive tools and other equipment that is stored on each technician’s truck. Technicians may need access to equipment held on another truck or at a depot, but that can be difficult to locate without proper asset management in place. In addition, equipment is vulnerable to loss or theft.

Delivery. Delivery companies often utilize reusable trays, crates, pallets and other containers that represent a significant capital investment. Being able to manage and optimize utilization of these assets can save money and streamline delivery operations. Customers sometimes steal or hoard these assets as well.

Healthcare. Mobile healthcare is a growing market. Workers in this space manage expensive assets and medical equipment (oxygen tanks, blood pressure monitors, infusion pumps, etc.) that must be returned and, in some cases, sterilized. Better asset management can improve patient safety and make it easier for employees to find critical equipment.

Real-Time Tracking Solutions

Automated solutions for asset management can help provide visibility in real time, but each approach offers different benefits (and potential drawbacks).

Barcodes. This is easily the least expensive way to manage field assets. This is a simple way to address tool or mobile asset tracking, for example, in field service or healthcare. Using mobile barcode readers, employees can simply scan a label to update asset status. However, this requires line of sight to complete the scan, and if a large number of items is involved it can be time consuming.

Passive RFID. Passive RFID can be used to automatically track assets in a facility or as they enter or leave the rear of a truck or pass through a dock door. Attached to returnable trays or containers, RFID can also help track inventory as it moves on and off delivery trucks and even track which customers received which containers. RFID is slightly more expensive than barcodes, but passive tags are a cost-effective method of tracking returnable items.

Active RFID. This type of RFID is more expensive. Often the tags are large and are attached to very expensive assets such as shipping containers or trailers. They have a longer range and can be integrated with other technology, like sensors or GPS, to provide real-time location data on items that are in motion.

Bluetooth Beacons. These systems are similar to active RFID, but are more commonly used inside warehouses or other facilities to track assets (both fixed and mobile). The technology allows companies to search for and find these assets within a facility using a map-based interface. The beacons can be placed on assets, and then broadcast their location wirelessly. Using a mobile device, employees can locate any beacon within range. The tags can also have other “smart” sensors for movement, vibration, temperature, GPS, and other measurements, especially important for tracking food or other assets that need stable environments.

RTLS (Real-Time Location) Systems. Some RTLS systems work with the above technologies, but some also work in conjunction with Wi-Fi technology. Leveraging an existing WLAN network, they can provide highly accurate location data on assets within a building or large vehicle.

By using real-time asset management technology, companies can better measure cycle times, improve asset utilization, and gain visibility into the status of their high-value assets. This can help reduce unnecessary asset purchases, and help identify potential operational improvements. With the wide variety of technology options available, there’s an asset management solution that is right for your company.

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RFID Hardware RFID Software Transportation and Logistics

Is RFID Right for Your Supply Chain?

Radio frequency identification (RFID) uses electronic tags to store data that can be transmitted to a scanner/reader. This provides identification and tracking benefits similar to those from barcoding, but with the ability to store more information and to read tags without a line of sight. Also, multiple (in some cases, hundreds) of tags can be read at once, making the technology more efficient.

RFID has been deployed for supply chain management by many companies, but is RFID right for your specific supply chain? Here are seven questions to ask as you evaluate whether this technology is right for your business.

1. Are you looking for increased efficiency and accuracy?RFID can improve equipment, inventory, and business process visibility in ways that other technologies simply can’t. Moreover, it can do so with a much higher degree of automation than other identification technologies (like barcodes). RFID tags can be read on an ongoing basis using readers installed at dock doors, at partner facilities, and even inside trucks or shipping containers. This allows you to collect granular inventory data that is more accurate and timely.

2. Are you in a hurry?If you have to quickly deploy a system to address an inventory issue in your supply chain, then RFID may not be the answer at least in the short term. An RFID deployment requires more planning and development than a barcode system because of the intricacies of RF technology and the infrastructure requirements.

3. Do your supply chain partners use RFID?In a closed-loop system where you are shipping goods from your own warehouse to a retail location or customer site, radio frequency identification can be more beneficial because you can ensure that there will be RFID readers at each node. If you heavily use third-party logistics providers and other leased infrastructure, there may still be gaps. Quite a few 3PL specialists, however, offer RFID tracking capabilities that could be integrated with your own initiative.

4. Are you in an environment with a lot of metal or water?RF signals can be degraded or blocked by large amounts of metal or liquids. While there are RFID tags designed specifically to work reliably under these conditions, they are more complex to deploy and often more expensive. That will add cost and time to the deployment, and potentially limit your choice of technologies/providers.

5. What level of visibility do you need?There’s not necessarily a business case for item-level tracking in every category. Very cheap goods won’t benefit from RFID because the cost of the tags relative to the cost of the goods is too high.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t value in case- or pallet-level tagging. You can still have faster and more accurate inventory location data under that model, and generate a measurable ROI.

6. Is your environment challenging for barcode labels?RFID can be used in applications where traditional labels aren’t practical. If you can’t get line of sight on a label, then RFID may be a better option. The technology can also be used in harsh or dangerous conditions — tags can be read at very high or low temperatures, in the presence of dangerous fumes/chemicals, and in storage locations where label scanning might be a challenge. Durable RFID tags can also withstand conditions (like harsh cleaning or trips through an autoclave) that would be impractical for paper barcode labels.

7. Do you need more than just location data?RFID combined with low-cost sensors that measure temperature, vibration, and pressure can do more than just tell where your goods/assets are. They can provide real-time updates on conditions that affect the quality of the freight in question. For example, for cold chain applications (such as frozen food, pharmaceuticals, or fresh produce) RFID and sensors can produce an auditable record of the temperature of the inventory in order to ensure quality and safety.
Is radio frequency identification a good fit for your supply chain? In most cases, the answer is yes — provided you build the right business case prior to deployment. RFID can provide supply chain benefits beyond location tracking, making it possible to optimize operations in ways not previously possible.

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Industry Solutions Mobility RFID Hardware RFID Software Warehouse and Distribution

4 Ways Mobility and the Internet of Things Benefit Warehouses

The growing Internet of Things (IoT) is on its way to connecting billions of pieces of equipment, consumer products, smart home systems, electronics, and other items. That represents a revolutionary way to collect data from far-flung assets, improving predictive maintenance, providing remote troubleshooting and control capabilities, and creating new ways to leverage large amounts of data that was never before available.

Mobility plays a similar role. Every partner, employee, and customer is potentially available anywhere and anytime, as long as they have their smartphone, tablet, or handheld computer. In combination, mobility and Internet of Things will extend the reach of the enterprise to virtually anywhere.

What does this mean for the warehouse? While mobility and the Internet of Things present plenty of opportunities outside the four walls, they will also have positive effects within the distribution center. The IoT will allow supply chains to create hyper-efficient warehouses that generate fewer shipping errors and hold less inventory.

There are four primary ways that mobility and the IoT will benefit the warehouse:

1. Better inventory management. Shelves full of connected products and smart shipping containers will make it easier to locate and manage inventory in the warehouse. These systems can automatically generate alerts if stock is running low or if temperatures or other conditions may jeopardize the quality of goods. Shelving and racking can become part of the Internet of Things, using real-time connectivity to help guide picking and putaway. The IoT could also make it easier to manage returns, since the returned item itself can communicate important information about its status, location, and ultimate point of disposition.

2. Improved efficiency and less labor.With better information about where goods are located, employees can do their work much faster. Armed with mobile computers, staff can do their work anywhere in the warehouse. The IoT can also be used to enable more warehouse automation, generating real-time demand signals that can guide robotic picking and putaway systems. Data from connected inventory and infrastructure can also help warehouse operators identify bottlenecks and monitor unsafe working conditions. Using that data, the warehouse can be reconfigured to be safer and to provide the most efficient picking paths and inventory configurations.

3. Better customer engagement.With the type of granular visibility into inventory and warehouse operations the Internet of Things and mobility provides, you can keep your customers better informed about the status of their inventory or orders. Data from connected products in the field can also be leveraged to generate more accurate demand signals and order/production forecasts.

In addition, the warehouse can provide new types of value-added services to customers using IoT and mobility technology. With better information about inventory and future demand, warehouses could offer more capacity to their customers, providing a sort of “burst capacity” for short-term increases capacity. Having better inventory information sooner means warehouses can more successfully offer cross-docking, just-in-time, and other types of services in a more cost-effective way.

4. Reduced risk.The IoT can help warehouses better detect risk and avoid mistakes/accidents that can create losses in the supply chain. Sensors in the warehouse can monitor temperature, moisture, and other conditions. Data coming from shipping conveyances, vehicles, and the products themselves can be combined to reduce theft, counterfeiting, diversion, and spoilage.

The Internet of Things and mobile technology can make the supply chain more flexible, reliable, predictable, and transparent. The warehouse can benefit from the IoT both internally, in terms of productivity and efficiency, and externally, through improved customer service. With this technology, your entire operation could see gains in efficiency, productivity, and accuracy, which can help your business grow.

 

 

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Industry Solutions RFID Hardware RFID Software Transportation and Logistics

How Technology is Changing the Transportation and Logistics Industry

The transportation and logistics industry has traditionally been defined by trucks and infrastructure, but over the past several years technology has begun to change that. The use of mobile computers, GPS solutions, electronic tolling, and electronic vehicle logs have revolutionized logistics. Other new technologies are poised to have just as big an impact, and the future of logistics will be marked by new advancements. It’s important for transportation companies to stay up-to-speed with these developments, even those that may be a few years away from widespread adoption.

While there are a number of new technologies that will affect the transportation and logistics industry, here are some critical ones to keep on your radar:

Telematics and Fleet Management

Logistics companies have been using GPS systems to track the location of their trucks for years. What has changed is the number of new features and functions that GPS-based fleet management systems now offer. In addition to seeing truck locations, managers can now set up geofences to enable alerts when a truck is nearing its destination (or has veered far out of its service area), optimize routes using real-time traffic data, improve vehicle utilization, and automatically track driver hours and fuel tax reporting information.

The telematics functions of these system also make it possible to track vehicle maintenance needs (scheduling serviced based on miles driven), and generate alerts if the engine generates a trouble code. This can help avoid breakdowns and extend the life of the vehicle. Finally, companies can track speeding, harsh braking/acceleration, excessive idling and other conditions that will reduce fuel consumption, save costs, and improve safety. In addition, some insurance companies now offer discounts for fleet operators that use these solutions.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT involves using sensors and network communications to connect machines to the Internet. This makes it possible to monitor equipment, remotely control devices (like printers or home security systems), and receive alerts when machines need repaired or serviced. IoT is an extension of the types of telematics information that has already been provided.  This can start further up-stream in the ordering, manufacturing and warehousing chain. Smart machines will broadcast their needs for new parts or consumables before running out. With clearer demand signals, the supply chain will have to be more responsive.

During transport, trucks could monitor temperature, vibration and other elements that affect the condition of the load. Not only will information about the truck and environment be captured, but IoT monitors can stay with a shipment across multiple international transportation methods, from shipping to truck to rail to steamship to yard storage to rail to truck to delivery. In this way, logistics companies could provide better insight for shippers and receivers — this type of data is critical for cold chain or produce applications.

The availability of low-cost sensors and Bluetooth wireless technology will make it easier to add trucks to this burgeoning online network of supply chain data, providing last-mile visibility that was previously unattainable.

Drone Delivery and Driverless Cars

Amazon made a big splash when it announced it planned to use unmanned flying drones to deliver products to customers. While the idea of flying robots dropping packages from the sky sounds pretty cool, practical considerations (cost, safety, regulations, etc.) will likely keep deliver operations grounded for several more years.

Driverless vehicles, on the other hand, are an advancement that may affect the logistics and transportation industry sooner rather than later. Several companies have already tested driverless cars on the open road (including Google), and there are a number of test facilities in the U.S. where the technology is being further developed. Several auto manufactures have also introduced semi-autonomous driving capabilities in their vehicles (Tesla is a prime example). And Uber’s Otto division is already testing driverless trucks for logistics and delivery applications. By eliminating the need for a driver, logistics companies could address the driver shortage and greatly improve safety by reducing or eliminating the possibility of driver fatigue.

Even if a driver has to still be inside an autonomous truck (which is the case under current law), they could switch the vehicle to autonomous and mode and theoretically rest while the truck keeps on moving. There are plenty of regulatory and insurance issues to sort through, in addition to great leaps in reliability that would be required of the technology. But the transportation and logistics industry should start giving this technology a hard look.

Cloud-Based Computing and Business Analytics

Often, people think of technology as strictly hardware, gadgets, etc.  However, the significant increase in capabilities and enhancements in architecture for cloud-based computing and business analytics also dramatically affects the transportation industry.   For years, telematics and RFID and other technologies provided plenty of data that could be used, but companies rarely were able to capture and organize that data, let alone harness the value of analytics.  The sophistication of software and data architectures now allow all the data to be effectively controlled and manipulated to generate not only detail status of activity and process flow, but predictive and suggestive advice to proactively improve operations and stop problems before they occur.

Then, providing operational alerts and management advice in a timely fashion to users’ mobile devices keeps them productively active and in the field instead of tied to a spreadsheet or mountains of paper printouts, wondering “What does it all mean?”

The transportation and logistics industry should prepare to embrace these changes and innovations. Doing so will improve their competitive position and enable them to meet the future needs and demands of their customers.

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Asset Management Custom Application Development Field Sales and Delivery RFID Software Transportation and Logistics

Developing a More Efficient Yard Management Strategy

Even with leading edge supply chain management tools, the trailer yard can be a black hole when it comes to inventory or asset visibility. Transportation management and warehouse management have improved operations prior to shipment arrival and after the goods are unloaded, but there is an efficiency and visibility gap between those two activities.

That’s where the yard management system (YMS) comes into play. Using these solutions can help you prioritize shipment arrivals, manage yard activity, improve efficiency, reduce unnecessary labor, and help track and identify trailer contents. These solutions are critical for developing a more efficient yard management strategy.

Here are some key steps to take to improve yard operations:

Develop a plan for improving yard management. Identify chokepoints in the facility. Find out which loads have been the most problematic to process, and investigate the reasons for those delays. If there are specific types of goods that require special handling (i.e., produce), outline what those needs are and what resources are required to successfully process those trailers.

Also, evaluate other processes that could be bogging down the yard. Returns management or other warehouse processes could be causing delays in the yard. Make sure you evaluate the incoming and outgoing processes that impact operations.
The project team should also set realistic goals and parameters for yard improvements. Establish allowable timeframes for trailer movement, and create an escalation process so that trailers that exceed those limits can be given priority.

Implement a YMS: A yard management system can also provide the visibility and downstream reporting that shippers need to keep their customers updated on shipment arrival and departure times.

Using a YMS helps better manage yard jockey activities because the system knows where each trailer is and where it needs to go. By improving the flow of trailers through the yard, shipments are unloaded on time and drivers don’t waste valuable minutes or hours waiting for their turn at the dock. Driver time can cost upwards of $50 an hour or more; by reducing the time spent checking in and unloading, companies can drive significant cost out of the supply chain and improve productivity.

It’s also important to minimize “lost” trailers in the yard. In large, busy yards it’s easy to lose track of any single trailer. By properly prioritizing and tracking those trailers, you can improve customer service while reducing the type of chaos that can result from manual processes. For large yards with a lot of dropped loads, a YMS can ensure you are properly tracking inventory, avoiding demurrage fees, and giving each shipment the correct priority based on its contents and customer requirements.

Evaluate your trailer yard layout. The yard should be divided into clearly marked zones (arrival, pick-up, empties, priority loads, repairs, etc.) so that drivers and jockeys can easily identify where they need to go. Just like in the warehouse, you should design the yard to limit moves and distances to gain efficiency.  A real-time intelligent YMS can direct the drivers to specific locations, and these locations can be validated via GPS to ensure trailer locations are accurate and up-to-date.

Improve dock scheduling processes. A dock scheduling system can help you better schedule labor capacity and develop a scheduling plan for the drivers that minimizes wait times, which will further improve yard management. Dock scheduling solutions can also help you measure loading/unloading times (for improvement purposes), record late arrivals, and devise scorecards to identify reliable suppliers and carriers.

Consider real-time location technology. Yard visibility can be greatly enhanced through the use of GPS and RFID technology. For example, the TrackX Yard solution combines RFID and GPS to automate yard operations, providing an ROI in 12 months or less. These solutions create a real-time location system in the yard that provides complete trailer visibility, which eliminates manual searches, reduces human error, and automates yard inventories. In addition, RFID can provide real-time information on the location of other yard assets, which helps optimize operations.

A more efficient yard management strategy can help eliminate expensive bottlenecks at the dock, and help you gain even more benefits from your existing supply chain and warehouse management solutions.

Contact omniQ for further information regarding optimizing your operations and trailer status visibility through a real-time Yard Management System.

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Barcode Custom Application Development Industry Solutions Retail RFID Hardware RFID Software

Retail Technology: Bundle RFID, Digital Signage, and POS to Improve Your Bottom Line and Sales

Retail technology has become increasingly advanced. At the same time, customers have become more accustomed to using digital channels and devices in their interactions with retailers. For brick-and-mortar stores to continue to compete with online channels, they have to leverage technology in their daily operations to both increase sales and improve the shopping experience for their customers.

While there are plenty of new technologies on the market, the combination of advanced point of sale (POS) solutions, digital signage, and RFID tracking are poised to revolutionize the way retailers and customers interact in the store.

POS — More than Payment

POS systems are a retail technology that has evolved beyond the cash register. Advanced systems now provide payment management and data analytics capabilities that can help your store run better.

The analytics from a POS solution will provide data that can help you track sales and inventory, identify slow-moving merchandise, and help you make better decisions about what should (or shouldn’t) be on the shelf. That same data can also clue you in to when you are making sales, so you can adjust staffing levels for peak and slow sales periods.

Loss Prevention (LP) technology associated with the POS also makes it more difficult for employees to commit theft or fraud. By carefully tracking which employees were working at each station, and by monitoring both inventory and purchase data, you can more quickly be alerted to potential fraud and access detailed purchase records that will make it easier to find out exactly what happened and who was responsible.

A modern POS system also makes it possible for you to meet PCI security requirements, while taking new forms of payment (like PIN and chip cards, or phone payments), issuing gift and loyalty cards, and accepting coupons. All of these features can help bring in and retain new customers.

RFID Improves Inventory Visibility

Major retailers like Marks & Spencer, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s now use RFID at the store and shelf-level to track inventory. American Apparel claims it reduced internal shrinkage by an average of 55 percent across its RFID-enabled stores while increasing sales.

This retail technology provides real-time visibility across the supply chain, right down to the retail shelf. With tagged merchandise and handheld RFID scanners (or shelf-based systems) the time it takes to conduct in-store inventories can be slashed by as much as 80 percent to 85 percent. Real-time inventory information also makes it easier to avoid out-of-stocks by alerting staff when its time to restock based on preset shelf parameters. That can help avoid lost sales by making sure the items your customers want are always on the shelf.

In addition, real-time inventory visibility makes it possible to fulfill buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) orders, which can further boost revenues.

RFID retail technology can also augment shrink-control efforts by providing a way to combine POS tracking with electronic article surveillance. Advanced systems can even tell you when something is taken from the shelf but doesn’t make its way to the check-out. For heavily shoplifted, high-value items, this type of advanced monitoring can quickly pay for itself via reduced theft.

Digital Signage in Action

A third retail technology, digital signage, can enhance internal marketing and advertising efforts. The signage is placed at the POS, at service points, at the shelf, and other high traffic areas. The signs can convey advertising and marketing messages, provide information about promotions or special pricing, and in some cases, even create customer-specific marketing messages based on shopper behavior.

Digital signage can reduce or eliminate the cost of printing in-store signage and advertising. It also provides upsell opportunities. Digital signage can encourage the purchase of specific premium brands when placed next to competitive items, for example.
A 2010 Nielson study of digital signage in grocery stores found that four out of five brands experienced increases of up to 33 percent in additional sales compared to the use of printed signage alone.

Integrated Customer Experience

By combining retail technology like POS systems, RFID, and digital signage, stores can also enable new ways to increase revenues and customer loyalty, while improving efficiency. Digital signage that is integrated with a shelf-level RFID solution can present shoppers with promotions or other complementary purchase suggestions based on the items they have removed from the shelf.

Using customer loyalty data and current purchase information at the POS, the solution could also generate additional promotions or incentives to get the customer to return to the store. This type of personalized shopping experience not only improves the image of the store, but also encourages additional purchases.

Shoppers use advanced technology every day, at work, at home, and even in their cars. Digital technology plays a larger role than ever in how customers research and purchase the goods they need. By integrating digital signage, POS solutions, and RFID, stores can leverage advanced retail technology to increase sales and improve the shopping experience for their customers.

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Retail RFID Hardware RFID Software

In-Store Analytics: The Future of Retail

The balance of power when it comes to information has shifted from retailers to shoppers with the advent of e-tailing. Shoppers now have access to an infinite amount of competitive pricing information. Even if customers walk into a retail location, they may simply evaluate products in person, then purchase online from another retailer, or hustle down the street to a competitor who is offering a better deal.

Retailers need to be able to evaluate real-time consumer data in order to capture customer business more effectively. More importantly, they need access to in-store analytics capabilities to turn that data into actionable business information. According to the Forrester Consulting and RetailNext study “Real-Time Data Drives the Future of Retail,” consumer and retailer perceptions are not aligned, and many stores lack the technology to utilize shopper data across channels. The study also found that retailers struggle to measure customer behavior. Just 33 percent, for example, reported always measuring conversion rates.

Forrester believes the store of the future will be powered by real-time in-store analytics that can predict shopper behavior over the entire “shopping journey” across multiple channels.

This means more than just head counts and point of sale data. In-store analytics allows retailers to evaluate everything from the effectiveness of a display, apparel size selection, and store layout by tracking how customers interact with merchandise. Why did they try something on and not buy it? Are there areas of the store that customers simply don’t walk through? Is end-cap display placement affecting sales of nearby products?

Consumers shop with their mobile devices and expect to encounter sales associates who can use that same technology to help them find the right product at the right price. Those shoppers also want to experience a consistent sales experience and consistent pricing across channels.

Using analytics, retailers can evaluate traffic, conversion, fixture engagement, shopper paths, and other data, and use that information to rapidly adjust their marketing and in-store operations, as well as provide better data so that buyers and planners can make better decisions. The data can help stores evaluate why a particular item didn’t sell or help prepare for a potential out-of-stock situation.

Real-Time Data Fuels Analytics

Getting that data requires the integration of point-of-sale data, online channel data, information from in-store sensors and RFID systems, and data pulled from other mobile and online interactions. This investment in in-store analytics, combined with the ability to quickly share data across operational areas, can help retailers respond more quickly to sales trends, provide information that can be useful in vendor negotiations, and create more effective buy plans.

Analytics can also help address other data gaps in retail. When customers enter a store but don’t purchase anything, retailers gain zero data. Additional information from sales associates and sensor/RFID systems could help provide a better understanding of those shoppers. In-store analytics can provide information that will help improve product mix optimization, and gain a better return on investment in their data collection activities. Analytics can also improve the use of campaigns and promotional displays based on actual customer behavior.

By linking in-store mobility systems to customer data, sales associates and managers can respond more quickly to customer needs while they are still in the store, which can help increase conversions and turn shoppers into buyers. Stores can also improve staffing levels based on shopper volume, improve store layout, or co-locate products that are frequently purchased together. Getting shoppers into your store is only half the battle. Analytics can help you better understand the customers you’ve already attracted, keep them coming back, and encourage them to buy more from you, and do so more often.

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RFID Hardware RFID Software

Pros and Cons: The Use of RFID for Inventory Management

In warehouses, distribution centers, and facilities that have deployed automated inventory management technology, barcode labels have become standard operating procedures. But RFID has become  a bigger part of the inventory management equation, especially in retail where a number of large companies are using the tags to track goods at the pallet, case, and even item-level at the retail shelf. While RFID has some big advantages over barcode labels, deciding whether to use the technology in your own inventory operations will require weighing the costs and benefits. Below, we’ve outlined some of the pros and cons of using RFID for inventory management.

PROS

– RFID does not require line of sight for scanning. With barcode labels, employees (or fixed position scanners) have to be able to see the label in order to get a reliable scan. In conveyor-based operations, that means boxes have to be oriented a certain way on the belt so that the label can be scanned. Because RFID tags can be read from any orientation, it can speed up the scanning process and reduce the labor associated with repositioning boxes for scanning. Also, scanners can read multiple tags at the same time, so an entire pallet-load of items can be scanned simultaneously.

– RFID can reduce labor costs. Labor can account for 50% to 80% of costs in a distribution center. With RFID, inventory check-in, regularly inventory counts, picking/pack times, and shipment verification can all be done in seconds or minutes. Processes that used to require multiple employees to complete can be handled automatically with a few scans.

– RFID also improves visibility of inventory by providing real-time updates and faster scanning. With RFID readers placed at each portal or doorway, you can know exactly when inventory enters or leaves a location; with barcodes, employees could potentially move an item without scanning it, which erodes data accuracy. That visibility can also improve the tracking of returns or recalled items by providing real-time updates as the goods re-enter the facility.

– For companies that use returnable containers or pallets, RFID provides a way to track those items across the supply chain, optimize asset inventory, and reduce loss or theft. Returnable containers can represent millions of dollars in capital investments, so RFID provides a way to reduce those expenses.

– Traditional linear barcodes can only hold a limited amount of data, typically a serial number that references a database. RFID tags can hold larger amounts and different types of data, and that data can be read even in remote locations without a connection to the back-end database.

– Durability also increases with RFID tags. Barcode labels can fade or fall off when they are exposed to the weather, sunlight, or other harsh conditions. RFID tags now exist that are not only weatherproof, but that can also survive harsh chemical baths or even multiple autoclave and sterilization cycles.

CONS

– The biggest hurdle to deployment in most applications is the cost of RFID tags. Barcode labels are substantially cheaper. RFID at the item level has largely been deployed on higher value goods, but there is still a good business case for RFID at the case or pallet level in many instances. A thorough ROI analysis would be required to determine if RFID is a fit.

– RFID tags may also suffer from interference problems. If the tag environment contains a lot of metal, liquids or other sources of radio interference, you could require multiple types of more expensive tags.

– The cost of upgrading equipment and facilities to use RFID is another potential drawback. To get the biggest bang for your buck, all of your facilities would need to be able to read the tags in order to achieve the required visibility. You may also need cooperation from suppliers, customers, or transportation companies.

– RFID tags can provide much more traceability data than barcodes, but managing all of that data can be a challenge. The solution has to be configured to manage by exception, so that your servers aren’t bombarded by superfluous information.

– There are also still incompatible standards across different industries, tag types, and in different countries. If you plan to use RFID to track goods internationally, you may need to deploy different types of systems in different geographies.

With some planning and forethought, RFID could potentially provide a means to improve inventory visibility and optimization. Carefully weigh the benefits and potential challenges before making a decision about how to use the technology in your inventory operations.

Categories
Manufacturing RFID Hardware RFID Software

How Bakeries Can Benefit from RFID Tracking Solutions

One of the biggest challenges direct store delivery (DSD) operations face is the proper management of reusable containers.  This challenge is especially evident in the bakery industry, where reusable plastic trays are often used in the transportation, delivery, storage, and display of baked goods.  These plastic trays can often be lost or stolen during the delivery cycle, creating a significant asset management problem for bakeries. In addition to having trouble tracking the trays, bakeries must deal with the expenses associated with replacing lost trays.

The Problem

Whether bakeries are utilizing plastic trays or some other reusable container, the use of outdated or inefficient asset tracking technology is an unnecessary burden.  Bakeries that are unable to properly track their assets are susceptible to extra expenses and other financial problems.  Having to constantly purchase new trays or containers digs into profit margins and not knowing where assets are will lead to a decrease in productivity.

The Solution

The best way to gain complete control over assets is to employ an RFID tracking solution.  RFID tags can be embedded into reusable trays or other assets, making it easier than ever to track their locations.  The embedded RFID tags can also automatically trigger replenishment orders for specific locations that are running low. The RFID system must also be implemented in the manufacturing facility and delivery trucks in order to ensure that the trays/containers can be tracked throughout the delivery process.

Of course, installing an RFID tracking system is not a one step process. The bakery must be thoroughly analyzed before the system is designed and the RFID tracking system must be tested extensively to ensure that each aspect is working perfectly.

With RFID tracking systems in place, bakeries should have no problems tracking reusable assets.  Drivers are given mobile computers with attached RFID readers, enabling them to read the tags during the delivery and pick-up processes. Once the assets are returned, they are cleaned and then scanned again to ensure that the RFID tags are still in working order.  Any assets that have faulty tags can be taken out of production to be retagged.

Once products are loaded into the trays/containers, the RFID chips can be programmed to reflect the necessary product information.  The assets are scanned again at the loading dock and upon entering the trucks.  If any container is put into the wrong truck, an alarm will sound and corrections can be made; this ensures that every delivery is accurate.

When properly implemented, an RFID tracking system can make sure trays, containers, goods, and more can be accounted for – throughout the entire cycle.

The Benefits

An RFID tracking system should be put into action in stages, and staff will likely have to review operational processes to improve workflow, but the benefits it can provide outweigh these temporary inconveniences.  Bakeries with tracking systems in place can accurately track route deliveries, reduce or eliminate the loss of reusable assets, and even automatically generate replenishment orders.

Visibility is one of, if not the most, important aspects of the supply chain.  RFID is invaluable because it allows bakeries to see what’s going on at every stage of the delivery process.