Tag Archives: BizTalk RFID Mobile

Customer video of Spotlight in action at RFID Journal Live keynote

At Microsoft’s RFID Journal keynote today, an example of how the base capabilities of the Spotlight product has been customized and deployed by an industry leader in the 3PL industry – Toll Global Logistics – was showcased.

If you haven’t seen it already, I’d urge you to invest 3.5 mts on this great video to see how a leader in the logistics space has invested in technology to leapfrog competition and drive more value out of the supply chain for their customers.

 

Enjoy!!

 

Cheers!

 

/a

 

 

P.S> For those of you who made the connection, yes this was the customer I was referring to in this earlier post 🙂

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Introducing Spotlight – an industry first packaged RFID-based asset tracking product for vertical markets from S3Edge

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(Fine print: Industry Solution Starter-kits come standard! Click here to learn more)

 

Today we launch Spotlight, our packaged asset tracking product which allows end-users to do the following out of the box:

  • View asset movements in real-time by answering the following:
    • “What are all the zones that this asset has been seen at?”
    • “What are the assets that have been seen at this zone?”
  • Reason on asset movements by providing business critical inferences such as :
    • “This asset has moved to a new location from <previous location>”
  • Find items in the real-world by seamlessly executing real-world search on asset observations and answering the following:
    • “Where was it last seen?”, “Is it in a particular zone now?”
  • Act in real-time based on activity observed. Typical examples include:
    • Presence (asset type and location) based feedback
    • Actions based on exceptions (“This asset should not be in a particular zone”)
  • Gain business insights from ad-hoc, on ground activity by providing configurable ‘self-service’ reports on asset movements across zones;
    • Ex.: “Tell me where the bags for this flight were last seen”, “Tell me all the missing items in the front store from last audit” etc.

And a whole LOT more!

Read more about it here, and check out our (brand new) website – www.s3edge.com to learn more about Spotlight and the Industry Solutions that we are currently focused on (Tip: DO NOT miss the Virtual Product Tours that show the product in action!).

We’d love to hear from you when you want to Get Started (click here to learn more) with utilizing Spotlight technology for a RFID solution deployment that you are planning.

And if you haven’t seen the video of Spotlight in action at Toll Global Logistics check it out on our website or at our YouTube channel here.

All in all, while this is the culmination of an exciting 2 years in working closely with end-users and delivering on their needs, we look forward to a whole new chapter of scalable, enterprise-ready software solutions unfolding on Spotlight.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any q’s / thoughts / comments –> send me a note or send mail to info@s3edge.com.

 

Cheers!

 

/a

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The Top 5 habits of all successful, packaged RFID applications

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Source: www.istockphoto.com

In my last post, we talked about the top 5 critical factors to design for while deploying an enterprise wide real-time visibility system strategy with RFID. 

In this post, I will address what a ‘packaged’ application really means and the ‘Top 5’ characteristics to look for while choosing a packaged vendor

A number of vendors on the market have announced "packaged" applications. Here are some ways to read through the marketing literature to understand the real level of packaging:

1) Simple out of the box installation: Is there a binary installable offering (like a Microsoft installer or setup file). Can the customer IT organization use this to create a deployment instance, or does it need professional services even to just install and get it configured?

2) Clear demarcation between "product" and customization, at the binary level: A large number of "packaged" offerings involve starting from source code and changing it. This is an unsupportable recipe – For fixes and enhancements to be really applied, and breaking changes to be identified and fixed, binary base product is a pre-requisite.

3) Deep leverage of standard development tools: (1) and (2) are possible with completely integrated offerings from proprietary solution vendors, but if customization involves learning a new language, toolset, debuggers, or development methodology, the cost of enhancements will be prohibitive and non-scalable.

4) ‘Centralizable’, remote administration: Even in RFID deployments of scale with multiple support centers, the RFID expertise tends to be concentrated in small numbers of experienced IT departments. They need to be able to get to all the deployed instances and manage them effectively. This has to be self-service oriented, where administrators can completely administer all aspects of their application, including finding devices and antennas that are not working, replacing and adding new devices, configuring user administration, and delegating these capabilities in a self-service manner.

5) Rich out of the box functionality: Yes customization is inevitable for the following layers of the overall deployment:

  • Presentation
  • Integration,
  • Reporting, and
  • Human workflow,

…since each organization will want to view the RFID solution in the context of their overall enterprise architecture.

But minimizing the customization to just these areas, without violating tenets (1-4) means the rest of the application, particularly as it pertains to RFID and device specifics, have to be clearly separable and outside the realm of the customization – Typically this means significant out of the box functionality at the RFID level.

Hopefully, this gives you insight into what to look for in a truly packaged application to solve your needs for a real-time visibility system, and you found this useful and valuable.

Looking forward to discussing and demo’ing capabilities of real-time visibility systems from S3Edge that demonstrate #1 through #5 above for your asset tracking needs in discrete manufacturing and warehouse operations! Stay tuned for the next post (and this will be a good customer scenario / ROI focused post! :))

 

Cheers!

/a

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The Top 5 factors that most influence a successful deployment of RFID applications in your Enterprise

Your management team comes to you one day and tasks you with figuring out what your enterprise-wide RFID roll-out strategy needs to look like 1, 3, and 5 years from now and the factors to optimize for in order to make it a core competitive differentiator for your organization.

You’ve read all about RFID, are excited about the potential of the technology (viable and useful  technology that can help achieve near term tactical and longer term strategic goals of your organization) but have seen enough minefields (and half-baked success stories) that leaves you in a conundrum, trying to address the following questions:

  1. How do I cut through all the FUD and get a deeper understanding of the factors to look for in order to successfully deploy an enterprise-wide RFID strategy?
  2. What do I need to look for in a packaged (hardware + software) product that can address my needs today, and 5 years from now?

Source:istockphoto.com

Based on learnings and direct feedback from our early adopters, we’ve attempted to capture some of the salient “must design for” factors that we believe will directly impact the probability of your success – irrespective of whether you go with S3Edge or not as your trusted partner for your enterprise-wide RFID solutions.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at some answers for the first question,in order to optimize for success in your RFID deployments:

 

Source:istockphoto.com

 

  1. Device Independence matters New kinds of readers and tags continue to appear, existing products continue to mature, most if not all customers will have a variety of hardware that they will want to choose from. Need a platform that evolves with their needs in a straightforward manner. BizTalk RFID is far and away the leader in this category, the windows device driver like model and the assumptions of scale behind it already have momentum and will continue to build up more momentum as the logo programs and other things kick in. Oracle throwing in the towel here is an example of what the future will be for this category.
  2. Devices matter At first glance this might be counter to the point above, but RFID devices continue to be ‘cutting edge’ technology. Having deep device expertise is critical to success on an RFID project, a platform like BizTalk RFID does not mean that anyone who can program BizTalk can really build RFID applications. We have made deep and significant investments in understanding, controlling and taking advantage of the device experience, which gives us a sustainable deep competitive advantage in building RFID applications. Along the same lines, we believe that a robust tag placement and readability offering is critical for any RFID solution provider.
  3. Mobility matters The Microsoft BizTalk RFID Mobile platform (a standalone, yet integral part of the BizTalk RFID server platform) now allows application logic to be executed on device and distribute actions to HH’s / forklifts etc. based on real-time inputs / workflow logic via a rich set of out of box capabilities. These on-device capabilities include connection management, support for online / offline operations, cached storage via SQL CE on device, and web services based integration with multiple end-points for applications that execute on the mobile device. An integral part of any s/w solution package must include mobile apps that are capable of taking advantage of these rich capabilities while perhaps more importantly being able to address the mobile worker use cases like inventory / stock taking out of the box in the context of the business application being deployed.
  4. People matter RFID offers the promise of unattended, automatic, ubiquitous data collection that should enable unobtrusive operation. We call this the "observational framework", and it is an important cornerstone of any RFID deployment. However, when the framework detects anomalies, for actions to be taken, people have to be involved. This includes surfacing alerts and exceptions where they happen, enabling the staff on the ground to fix problems instead of compounding downstream errors. This is usually human workflow of some sort, either utilizing fixed stations, or more typically, handheld readers and terminals. A robust and scalable human workflow engine is a critical part of any packaged RFID offering. This has to be ‘tailor-able’ for the specific flows at any given site, while still offering leveraged out of the box functionality for connectivity, login, data synchronization, alerts, and exception management.
  5. Packaging matters BizTalk RFID, like its bigger cousin, BizTalk is an ideal platform for System Integrators given the amount of control and flexibility that is possible. This can lead to solutions with extensive customization. Extensive customization is expensive to specify, implement, deploy, support, and service. The way forward is to leverage this platform in a way that reusable solutions are created, and a cornerstone of that is building "packaged" applications, with their desirable ROI and time to deployment profiles.

I hope you found this useful and valuable – If the above resonates or helps with your efforts around RFID, we’d love to hear from you (send me a note, or drop us a line at info@s3edge.com)

Next post: In our next post we will talk to the “The 5 habits of all successful packaged RFID applications”, continuing from where I left off today to address the second question, namely What do I need to look for in a packaged (hardware + software) product that can address my needs today and 5 years from now?” – stay tuned!

Cheers!

Anush Kumar with Ram Venkatesh

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The changing landscape of RFID – Then and Now (with recent enabling developments)

Then: Let’s be honest – Hardware was frankly, a big drag – Readers were big, bulky, consumed a lot of power and extremely hard to deal with, and tags just did not meet production requirements (more of an art than science to get to the magical 100% read rate and the cost factor was almost always an issue in terms of justifying investment)

Now: We are starting to see the early ‘iPhones’ of Hardware making their entry into the market – Specifically we are seeing devices / tags with the following characteristics

  • Better and smaller form factors (~ 75% smaller)
  • Way less power consumption, thanks to Power over Ethernet or PoE (~50-60% lesser)
  • And a whole lot cheaper… yep, sometimes upto 40% cheaper (!)

Here’s some anecdotal data to substantiate this:

Impinj announced Speedway Revolution fixed readers; $1,385 list price for a 2-port and $1,585 list price for a 4-port {Motorola FX7400 is similar}

–Convergence Systems introduced its CS203 integrated reader/antenna; has PoE, and rated for use in extreme environments, has passed Mil Std 810 testing, and has a list price of $700.

–Lexmark introduced its RFID Gen2 UHF Option for its T654 monochrome laser printer; list price of $2,499

–UPM Raflatac introduced its Dogbone Freeze tag designed for temperatures reaching -40C

–Impinj Monza3 available in packaged format for PCB integration

Then: Wireless technology / devices were unreliable and expensive to configure in concert with RFID (i.e. product capabilities, deployment knowhow, and cost of ‘active’ tags were all issues)

Now: Wireless devices are now ubiquitous and low cost; Reliable wireless networks (specifically UWB, GPRS) that allow for RFID data to be captured within the  4 walls of your enterprise in a seamless manner (providing continuous visibility of high value assets in a specified area) are now more widely available – Some really neat technologies to look at here are Time Domain and Sandlinks which utilize UWB in neat ways to provide continuous visibility – In addition, costs associated with tags to roll out these systems now scale in volume which is critical for adoption (vs. trying to impose a goofy per tag licensing model to remunerate location software costs!)

Moreover we are starting to see mass proliferation of low-cost intelligent mobile devices that are wirelessly connected and work reliably in form factors applicable to the target work environments (ruggedized handhelds, vehicle mount computers, fixed readers etc.) – perhaps most importantly software now can take take advantage of computing resources to implement significant workflow processing on device thanks to the advent of mobile computing platforms in the form of BizTalk RFID Mobile.

 

What does all this mean in layman terms?:

For the fist time it’s possible to cost effectively address operational issues – that result in errors and decreased utilization of assets / people – by deploying systems to automatically track and report on material movement events in real time.

 

So if the above is indeed true, what is preventing end-users from taking full advantage of this technology and utilizing it to add value to our environments?

Well, there still remains (unfortunately) a number of current barriers to adoption – especially from a systems standpoint in making all the moving pieces (hardware and software) work together in concert for you – that I will talk to in our next post.

Look for my next post on this topic first thing Monday.. until then, Cheers!

/a

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S3Edge demonstrates first forklift application on BizTalk RFID mobile as part of RTVS for Warehouse Visibility

Last week, we had the pleasure of demonstrating the first forklift application to be written on BizTalk RFID Mobile – at RFID World Asia Singapore, as part of the Microsoft ‘RFID in Action’ booth.

The application (part of our overall RTVS for Warehouse Visibility product suite) which interfaces with the Motorola RD 5000 and the vehicle mount computer is basically a camera in that it allows you to record, rewind, fast-forward, and play ‘live’ events of interest that the fork-lift reader is picking up in the warehouse i.e. an Observational System on the ground.

Once this info is communicated back to the RTVS server, instructions are then provided to the warehouse worker to put-away, put-back, receive, move, ship inventory and other warehouse activities as dictated by the controlling enterprise app – all done in a seamless, distributed manner that incorporates automatic system data from RFID, user-initiated requests / responses, and WMS initiated activities as part of the overall system.

To showcase this system, we worked with Motorola to outfit a Segway with the RD5000 forklift reader, and ran the S3Edge Observational system on the vehicle computer – the Segway moving from one part of the simulated warehouse to another then showed new observations, pickup, drop-off, and inventory movement – all incorporated into the S3Edge RTVS portal for Warehouse Visibility with the mobile application as part of the overall packaged application.

The results? The demo was the showcase of the show and we made it to the evening news well 🙂 – check it out below, kudos to Motorola for working with us on this and making it happen, and bonus points for translating 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiNxVLKLjAs

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The show overall was a success, we had numerous quality interactions with customers who were very excited about the relevance of a packaged solution to address their real-time warehouse operations and work-in-process tracking needs, and I look forward to being back next year!

Here are some more photos from the show, including a few of the keynote that I did with Microsoft. – enjoy, and look forward to showing you all this at work (minus the Segqway though…) at RFID Journal Live this week.

 

Cheers  

/a

 

2009.04 – RFID World Asia, Singapore ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/e_kian/sets/72157617350345210/)

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And it’s a wrap [RFID Journal Webinar recording]

For those of you who missed our Webinar earlier this week, or would like to see it again at your own pace, here’s the link from RFID Journal:

https://rfidjournal.webex.com/rfidjournal/lsr.php?AT=pb&SP=EC&rID=32253487&rKey=D21751121AEEACEE

Topics we covered:

  1. Scenarios and requirements addressed by a Real-Time Visibility System [RTVS]
  2. Components of a RTVS and the S3Edge RTVS software architecture
  3. The Key business characteristics to look for in order to get significant benefits from a RTVS
  4. A 3 phase approach [Observe, Direct, Improve] to get up and running quickly – and get immediate returns with a RTVS
  5. 2 customer case-studies that demonstrates RTVS at work
  6. An insiders look at the packaged flows supported by the S3Edge RTVS applications for Warehouse Ops and Work-in-Process Asset tracking
  7. A quick-start guide to deploy a RTVS

Enjoy and drop us a line if we can help answer any questions on a RTVS deployment you are considering.

Cheers

/a

SAVE THE DATE: 04/14/09! Register today for an exclusive webinar to learn how our packaged solutions can help you cut costs and improve your warehouse & manufacturing operations within the year!

As a leading provider of  Real-Time Visibility Systems for warehouse management and manufacturing operations, S3Edge would like to invite you to a no-cost webinar we’re sponsoring with Microsoft on April 14th, 2009.

 

The webinar is titled:

An Insider’s guide to cutting costs and improving your operations with packaged solutions for Inventory and Process Visibility – How your company can create near-term customer value and strategic long-term differentiation by connecting your warehouse and factory-floor activities to controlling enterprise applications in real time

 

Who should attend?

Executives and decision makers responsible for Supply Chain or Plant Floor Operations in the 3PL / Logistics / Retail or Manufacturing arena & Answer ‘Yes’ to one or more of the statements below:

  • Direct the work of staff in an optimal manner
  • Ensure 95% to 99% order fill rates
  • Reduce labor costs 10% to 30%
  • Reduce or prevent errors during:
    • Data Entry
    • Receiving [Excess or Short]
    • Shipping [Excess , Short, Incorrect]
    • Inventory Movement
  • Improves pick productivity by reslotting warehouse inventory locations un real-time
  • Eliminate labor costs due to manual inventory
  • Reduce returns and charge-backs due to shipping of excess, incorrect inventory
  • Improve operating margins by reducing excess and obsolete inventory
  • Reduce time spend and errors from non-value added activities like SORTING, COUNTING, STACKING, EXPEDITING, CHECKING
  • Reduce customer violations
  • Reduce cycle times and errors during Replenishment by 10-20%
  • Get real-time visibility into job performance on the floor
  • Eliminate ‘lost’ , ‘excess’, or ‘incorrect’ parts via real-time Verification

Come learn how this this Webinar will help you experience immediate improvements and expense reductions by substantially reducing errors and improving existing processes in your warehouse / manufacturing environment – resulting in increased customer satisfaction / retention and reduction in labor + operating costs.

Where to register?

Goto the RFID Journal Webinar registration page [Click HERE] today and register for this great event with real end user value!

 

What additional value else can you expect?

Joining me will be Microsoft’s Director of Operations Excellence, Ingo Heel and we promise a high quality, relevant and valuable 60 minutes of real solutions for creating near term value with longer term differentiation for your business. We will also be revealing a special offer for webinar participants to schedule an evaluation of your warehouse / manufacturing operation to estimate the cost and the expected return of deploying a Real Time Visibility System at your facilities.

So don’t miss this opportunity to educate yourself on how to take advantage of our turnkey, packaged solutions to transform your businesses and if there are others at your organization that you feel would benefit from this webinar, let them know as well!

Look forward to meeting you on the 14th! 🙂

 

Cheers

/a

 

Launching Radio RTVS!

As part of our commitment to bringing RFID solutions (with razor focus on ROI) to the masses, one of the key things that I committed to the RTVS tribe is that I would  publish interviews / talks with industry thought leaders and customers from a plethora of backgrounds – on what they are doing, why it is relevant to our industry and how it’s going to shape or influence ideas and systems in years to come.

I’d like to kick off the first “episode” of Radio RTVS with the talk I did yesterday at the MIT Enterprise Forum; Was a really fun day (I got to hang out with Dr. John Williams who runs the Auto-ID lab and bounce a bunch of ideas of him as well as get his feedback on S3Edge’s 3 tier approach to packaged real time visibility systems On-Device, On-Premise, and On-Demand which was extremely +ve) and the 3 areas that I covered in this talk were:

  • The 3 tier approach to building repeatable, scaleable RTVS solutions
  • The role of cloud computing in delivering multi-enterprise visibility
  • A end-end demo for slide tracking in the pathology space [which is a configurable app atop our asset tracking / work-in-process application] with our h/w partner Magellan – a demo that brings the above 2 bullets together and showcases a hosted, ‘packaged’ / configurable asset tracking application at work.

So w/o further ado I hope you enjoy the talk below and if you want to see the last part of the talk – which is the hosted S3Edge application at work, drop us a note, or sign up for a demo through http://www.s3edge.com&nbsp; 🙂

Grab it off http://autoid.mit.edu/cs/ or view it at:

http://recordings.dimdim.com/view/dimdim/c2a44ca4-5e4a-102c-9991-003048944478

In terms of future talks, I have a few ideas of folks that I’d like to talk to on behalf of the RTVS tribe [I hope to be able to publish at least a couple per month] – if you have specific requests on subjects or folks you’d like to see on Radio RTVS, as always, drop me a line

Until the next show!

 

Cheers

 

/a

Hot off the Presses! First book on BizTalk RFID now available

It’s official now – Ram Venkatesh (S3Edge CEO’s) book on BizTalk RFID, which was co-authored with Mark Beckner and Mark Simms in now available on Amazon – no more pre-ordering, just grab it! 🙂

 

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A great read (catch a sneak peak here), the book should serve as a great primer for users looking to gain a deeper understanding of the innards of the BizTalk Server RFID (Server & Mobile) platforms, while getting an in-depth look into creating and deploying enterprise scale apps for Real Time Visibility Systems (esp. mobile applications on hand-helds on the BizTalk RFID Mobile platform) – delivered straight from the experts mouths!

Want to pick Venkatesh’s brain on some tough implementation / architecture guidance issues? Drop us a line (leave me a comment or send mail to info@s3edge.com) – we’d love to hear more about your issues, challenges, and any questions related to building and deploying applications on the BizTalk RFID Server or Mobile platforms.

With that I’ll leave you with a really small peek (a web exclusive for the RTVS tribe!) into what you can expect in the book – until next week, enjoy! 🙂

 

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Cheers

/a

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