Tag Archives: manufacturing rfid

Congrats to S3Edge partner, Xplore Technologies for being recognized among “100 Great Supply Chain Projects” in 2013 by Supply & Demand Chain Executive Magazine for a joint solution win.

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Super kicked that the S3Edge solution that utilized Xplore  Tech’s industry leading ruggedized hardware to enable innovative mobile RFID_based apps to be deployed for shipping at Carrier Corp has won this prestigious award from SDExec one of the 100 great SC projects of 2013.

Congrats team Xplore tech and we look forward to many such more ground-breaking wins in partnership with you!

Read more here and give us a call if we can help you deploy similar mission-critical solutions.

Cheers!

/a

Carrier makes excellent manufacturing even better with RFID based software from S3Edge to streamline operations and logistics at their manufacturing facility

Carrier Collierville, named by Industry Week as a top manufacturing plant in the nation (2011), has improved shipping productivity by 33%, and error reductions by 80 – 90% – due to the new auto ID based air-conditioner tracking system, and will keynote the upcoming RFID Journal Live 2013 event.

S3Edge is  extremely pleased to announce that Carrier Corporation, a Fortune 50 company that’s part of United Technologies will be keynoting at the upcoming RFID Journal Live event to talk about the mission-critical solution they’ve deployed in production with our software and hardware from our partners (Impinj, Xploretech, SMARTRAC, Xerafy, and Motorola).

Below is the description of the keynote session on May 1st at RFID Journal Live 2013, the world’s largest RFID event in Orlando, Florida.

How Carrier Made Excellent Manufacturing Even Better With RFID
Carrier, a leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions, is part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp. and a provider of technology to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. In January 2012, the company’s 900,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, located in Collierville, Tenn., was named one of IndustryWeek’s top-10 Best Plants in North America for 2011. In September 2011, the plant deployed an RFID system to create an automated shipping and component verification solution in a high-volume and high-velocity environment. Hear how the solution was designed and implemented, how it reduced truck-loading errors by more than 80 percent and how it boosted shipping productivity by 33 percent, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings. In addition, learn what’s ahead for RFID at Carrier.

Speaker:

Balaji Suresh, Materials Manager, UTC Climate, Controls & Security, Carrier

If you are in Orlando this week, and would like to discuss this in more detail, drop me a note.

Cheers

/a

Our customer, Carrier Corp to keynote RFID Journal Live 2013

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Source: RFID Journal Events [http://www.rfidjournalevents.com/live/index.php]

Extremely excited to announce that Balaji Suresh, our project sponsor at Carrier Corp (a UTC company) will be keynoting this years RFID Journal Live 2013 in Orlando on May 1st.

Mr. Suresh will be talking about the first ever 24×7 high-availability shipping and parts verification solution they’ve deployed at their Collierville plant in Memphis, TN on the S3Edge Spotlight platform (live in production for more than a year now), and I’d highly recommend this sessions for enterprises who have been sitting on the sidelines looking to educate themselves on the value and approach of deploying such a solution in a mission-critical environment.

Drop us a line if you’d like to learn more!

Cheers!

/a

The Road to Mission-Critical RFID begins this fall!

stock photo : Close up view of the working bees on honeycells.

Source: www.shutterstock.com

Its September already, and been a while since I posted due to all the fun stuff we have been working on. The months ahead promise to be one of the most exciting periods in the life of our little company, with a bunch of interesting (and impactful) deployments and events lined up – leading to some significant milestone being notched up in deploying Mission-Critical RFID solutions.

These include:

  • One of the first (if not the first) Mission-Critical RFID Solution roll-out – at a Fortune 50 company no less – where the S3Edge Industry Solution will be deployed in production 24×7,  as a primary enterprise-wide solution in a cluster-aware “hot-hot” environment (uptime, quick recovery, scalability in action for the first time) across production lines and shipping docks in a discrete manufacturing environment. (Hint: the final product that is being tracked may well be installed in your homes Winking smile)
  • Pilot applications deployed in production – both at blood centers and hospitals – in the transfusion medicine supply chain (see www.transfusionmedicinerfid.org to learn more about this important initiative to track blood bags in the nations blood supply chain, and provide point of care safety during transfusions). If you are in the mid-west area, swing by and say hello at the RFID in Healthcare Event @ Chicago (September 13th), where I can be found at the Unitech booth.
  • A go-live of our tool-tracking solution for compliance and safety of personnel in nuclear plants in a large nuclear facility – yet another Mission-Critical solution in action
  • And on a different note, the release of the much-awaited BizTalk 2010 Unleashed book, where yours truly had the honor of co-authoring the RFID chapters on BizTalk RFID Server, and BizTalk RFID Mobile – stay tuned for sample pages from these chapters Smile

Lots to look forward to in what promises to be an exciting and eventful Fall season – drop me a note as always if you are interested in learning more about the above initiatives or just stay tuned for updates!

Cheers!

/a

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 ‘R’ in the ROI for RFID deployments , Part1 [Focus on Vertically Integrated Manufacturers]

Building on my previous post (Er…Isn’t this really about “Execution”), in this 2 part series of posts, i’d like to illustrate the ‘Returns’ that our customers are seeing on deploying packaged SW to eliminate errors and improve productivity on their factory-floors and warehouse operations – this is not intended to be an exhaustive compilation of returns that are possible / being observed but rather a brief snapshot based on information gleaned from our end-user community using S3Edge’s software for Supply Chain Asset Tracking in the HealthCare, Pharma, 3PL, & HVAC Industry Verticals.

In Part 1, we will look at returns that Vertically Integrated Manufacturers are obtaining (where a vertically integrated business  is defined as “absorption into a single firm of several firms involved in all aspects of a product’s manufacture from raw materials to distribution”; Classic example: Carnegie Steel) by deploying packaged RFID-based software for Real-Time Visibility & Control of their assets across a close loop supply chain.

Slide #1 addresses manufacturing specific scenarios, the second slide addresses warehousing and distribution scenarios, and the way to interpret the data on the slide is as follows :

  • Blue boxes on top represent existing business processes
  • The middle light blue box walks through a Before and After analysis (comparing the value of RFID technology usage when compared to current existing processes, where the RFID solution was used to extend and complement the existing Line-of-Business layer vs. replacing it – and this is extremely important to be recognize)
  • And finally the green box illustrates the ROI in terms of $ impact to the business when this is deployed

As always, I’d love to get your thoughts and insights on the content and brainstorm additional areas where RFID adds value to your existing business process.

If you’d like to learn more and review a data-sheet / white-paper, along with a detailed deck on the scenarios and ROI for similar projects you are considering, send us a note at info@s3edge.com or sign up for a demo session online at www.s3edge.com 

Look forward to hearing from you!

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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Keeping Track of your Assets – Prime Magazine Autumn 2009 issue

RFID has evolved into a key technology for tracking goods and assets around the world, and is becoming critical to an efficient supply chain.

With the feature piece for the fall edition of the quarterly magazine – Keeping Track of your Assets – Lindsay James uncovers how RFID has evolved into a key technology for manufacturers with insights from S3Edge, Xterprise (a provider of custom /point solutions on the Microsoft platform for Retail), and a feature of the GKB Hi-Tech customer scenario.

http://www.onwindows.com/Portals/0/prime-issue-18.pdf 

Enjoy!

Cheers

/a

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Who moved the Elephants?

You are evaluating multiple options to deploy a scalable RFID system (hardware + software) for your enterprise – and all you come across are point solutions that are unable to articulate (or show) how the infrastructure that you are looking to deploy can be easily customized and evolve with your changing requirements over time…“Not to worry, we’ve got guys who can to take care of it” is the likely common refrain you hear….

A nagging question remains in the back of your head..How is this going to scale with my growing needs for years to come, let alone work as expected for my near term needs?

You’ve basically met the Elephant in the room  and unfortunately there only seems to be more of the same… Now, this is a HUGE problem, as:

  • Elephants are really heavy and hard to move once they settle in
  • Elephants move extremely slowly, making you adjust to their pace (vs. the other way round)
  • It’s a laborious process to get them to do anything other than what they want…and
  • Elephants eat a lot of grass over their lifetimes (which happens to be green also)

And unless you do something different, you may very well end up with a solution that (unfortunately) looks something like this….

Elephant In The Room

Source: http://www.utopiatheory.com/?p=77

 

Well, take heart – all’s not quite doom and gloom yet – this is the problem that the team at S3Edge have been working on, and have a solution that will help you overcome the above obstacles while putting in place an infrastructure that effectively prevents the elephant from ever entering the room!

The S3Edge approach to systematically breaking down the barriers to adoption and enable a scalable infrastructure for your RFID application needs works as follows:

 

 Source www.istockphoto.com

 

  • It all starts with the humble, yet all powerful device The first thing we do is to systematically attack problems starting at the device layer: This means a deep understanding of the low-level device operations and architecting the solution with device independence in mind. The BizTalk RFID platform provides an abstraction layer to interact and leverage device features in a uniform manner (think windows device drivers) and at S3Edge we build these device providers for a multitude of hardware vendors (Impinj, Motorola – fixed, hand-held and forklift, Unitech, thingMagic, Omron, Magellan, Kinetics, Time Domain etc. to name a few) – a list which includes various types of h/w from passive to active RFID devices – because if this layer fails, all else fails.

We are in some sense ‘tied at the hips vs. the ears’ with the devices we support and recommend to our clients as this strategy enables us to stand behind the devices the application works with, and state with a high degree of confidence that this (the RTVS business applications we develop) will scale from 1-10-100 devices..all while giving the client the piece of mind that there is no proprietary mechanism to discover, connect / communicate, and manage heterogeneous device environments on Windows.

This is an area we take immense pride in (being the best BizTalk RFID provider writers on the planet!) and have often been called ‘market enablers’ by our hardware partners and customers – sometimes for enabling ‘PnP’ of their devices with other s/w applications on the Microsoft platform! But perhaps the more subtle fact that may often get missed (or sometimes unfortunately misrepresented due to our body of work in the provider enablement area) is the ‘market leaders’ tag that we enable for the end users by taking full advantage of intimate device knowledge and the BizTalk RFID platform in the application software (Real-Time Visibility Systems) we develop and deploy.

  • This is then followed by a structured 3 phase approach to solution deployment To achieve near term results and longer term strategic differentiation with Real-Time Visibility Systems software, we recommend a three-phase deployment model: Observe, Direct, Improve. This approach starts with the deployment of an Observational System followed by integrating more directional business logic to handle exceptions and finally using the system as a framework to improve your business processes over time.

We are very big on getting data in and out quickly, efficiently –  and it all begins with an Observational System (“Tag & Illuminate” as a customer succinctly put it) to allow you, the end-user to start seeing real-time information with zero lines of code once your devices are installed. In other words, the observational system (in the ‘Observe’ phase) clearly identifies and measure points in the existing material flow where high-cost errors occur, while the ‘Direct’ phase provides real-time alerts and direction to catch errors as they happen and prevent them from cascading – and finally the ‘Improve’ phase lets you build out a central business information platform that grows with your evolving operational needs for real-time data.To learn more about how the Observe, Direct, Improve methodology is working today for customers, check out my presentation at S3Edge RTVS Software Explained post.

  • While always using standard development tools to implement customer-specific business logic The S3Edge Real Time Visibility Systems for Warehouse Operations, Discrete Manufacturing, and Supply Chain Asset Tracking are packaged in that they are easy to install and deploy and allow you to start seeing results from RFID data right away. It has been designed from the onset with the understanding that this is a mission critical component of your overall system. It includes all the enterprise ready characteristics you would expect from any business application: scalability, security, fault-tolerance and designed to grow with you changing needs over time. But perhaps the most significant differentiator is the fact that the solutions are built ground up on the Microsoft Application Server and Mobile platforms which essentially translates to no proprietary development environment to learn and support for the end user while connecting to controlling enterprise applications using standard connectors – there is no custom middleware or glue code and you get full leverage of the enterprise and mobile functionality that the Biztalk and .NET environments support, resulting in much lower TCO over a solution lifespan while taking advantage of built-in enterprise ready features for scalability, performance, and fault tolerance.

All of the above is always preceded by a detailed discovery session spent learning about your scenarios and requirements in deep detail followed by a ROI analysis that results in a “Investment vs. ROI profile”. In other words this is the clear articulation of what the investment (which encompasses hardware, software, services and YoY maintenance which is often overlooked) profile looks like side-by-side with the ROI profile in terms of hard $ numbers for ROI by year due the reduction in errors, and increase in labor utilization for your organization. Only if there is hard and tangible ROI for the end-users in terms of $ nos. from cost reductions do we typically even get into a deployment vs. betting on hypothetical or intangible ROI in terms of “if we do this i.e. deploy the RFID application, we are going to help you sell 3x more blue jeans and green sweaters”… not really our cup of tea 😉

In summary we’ve seen why custom solutions are almost always bad news for RFID applications, and how the differentiated S3Edge approach helps solve issues caused by these solutions in the following manner:

  1. By putting in place a packaged turnkey solution that can be easily customized for your needs,
  2. While enabling a “solution infrastructure” that evolves with your needs over time

 

Give us a call or send us a note at info@s3edge.com if the above resonates with your needs – we’d love to hear from you and show you what we’ve got!

 

Next week, I plan on switching tracks a bit to talk about “Optimizing your RFID deployments for success: The top 5 factors that most influence a successful deployment of RFID applications in your Enterprise”, following which we’ll take a closer look at some of the scenarios that our packaged applications address in the discrete manufacturing and warehouse operations area (with detailed use case analysis and a focus on the ‘R’ in the ROI from the same). If you have any specific areas you’d like me to talk more about, would love to hear more!

 

Until the next post.

Cheers!

/a

Skypeme @ “allthingsRTVS”

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