The BaxBlog

Datamax-O’Neil Presents Its Latest Printer Solutions For Transport & Logistics At LOGISTIK Austria 2011

Joint trade fair appearance with Austrian distribution partner Bluetech Systems and labelling systems provider Schwinn & Partner (Stand C07 / Hall D).

Datamax-O’Neil, a global provider of label and receipt printing solutions, will show its comprehensive product range at LOGISTIK Austria 2011 in Vienna (21 – 22 September). At the trade fair for logistics solutions, Datamax-O’Neil will share a stand with its Austrian partner Bluetech Systems Barcodesysteme, which specialises in distribution and customer services for barcode scanners, label printers and mobile data collection. Also to be present at the booth is the systems provider for labelling equipment Schwinn & Partner, which develops and manufactures dispenser and labelling systems as well as solutions for automation in the fields of identification and logistics.

Datamax-O’Neil, exhibiting at Stand C07 in Hall D at Messe Wien, will showcase its latest printer solutions such as the E-Class Mark III desktop barcode printer, the RL4 portable 4-inch label printer, the robust printers of the MP Compact4 series and accessories such as IQWax, IQMid and IQRes thermal transfer ribbons. In addition, the company will inform visitors about the extended warranty and service provisions covering its entire portfolio of printers. Moreover, a Schwinn & Partner system for labelling pallets will be demonstrated at the trade fair. The system contains an integrated Datamax-O’Neil print module for marking items with latest data.

“In order to remain competitive today, it is vitally important that providers of transportation and logistics services are able to respond quickly and achieve high levels of productivity in warehouses, while goods are in transit and on customers’ premises,” explained Christian Bischoff, Regional General Manager EMEA at Datamax-O’Neil. “With our latest printer solutions and accessories, we can show trade visitors from this sector exactly how they can make their processes more efficient and more reliable and therefore respond to the changing requirements of their customers.”

Printers and accessories for transport & logistics: Among other products on show at LOGISTIK Austria, Datamax-O’Neil will be presenting the extremely rugged RL4 4-inch label printer. The compact design of the RL4 means it can be worn on a belt or mounted in vehicles and is therefore ideal for use in mobile applications in warehouses and transportation. The E-Class Mark III desktop barcode printer also contributes to simplifying logistics processes. With its high print quality and speed, the printer supports employees in a wide range of transport and logistics tasks. MP Compact4 series printers have a solid metal casing and are a practical solution for dispatch and warehousing applications as the printers can easily be installed on forklifts and picking vehicles.

IQWax, IQMid and IQRes thermal transfer ribbons offer high quality printing even under difficult conditions and are compatible with all stationary printers from Datamax-O’Neil. The thermal transfer ribbons make it possible to print sharp images and are an innovative addition to the comprehensive range of accessories. With high temperature resistance, they are suitable for applications in transport and logistics.

About Datamax-O’Neil
Datamax-O’Neil is a trusted global provider of stationary, portable and mobile label and receipt printing solution products that enable manufacturing and supply markets to capture the benefits of automated product identification and automated legal and financial transactions. Datamax-O’Neil is the barcode and mobile printing business group of Dover Corporation’s Product Identification Group (PIDG), a global platform entity with products and services covering all the leading marking technologies and applications. The company’s products address a wide variety of applications, including those in the industrial, healthcare, retail, automotive and ticketing market sectors. Datamax-O’Neil is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and maintains key facilities in California, Illinois, and France, as well as sales and technical support offices around the world.

Motorola Solutions Releases Fixed Reader Designed for Challenging Applications

Aug. 3, 2011—Motorola Solutions has released a new industrial fixed RFID reader that, according to the company, is more sensitive than its predecessors—the XR series—and that is designed to provide improved read range and accuracy in harsh environments. The FX9500 reader, the firm explains, was developed to meet the needs of the most challenging applications: industrial sites with densely packed tagged goods, or containing a large presence of liquids and metals. The device, which will replace the XR series, will begin shipping to customers at the end of this month, Motorola reports. The XR series will be phased out over the course of approximately a year, says Chris Schaefer, Motorola Solutions’ director of global RFID market development. The FX9500 model, he indicates, “was designed for high-volume, high-density, high-throughput applications.”

The new interrogator features a smaller footprint than the XR series, and is designed for installation in portals, such as the dock doors of warehouses and manufacturing facilities, where forklifts may carry densely packed goods with 1,000 or more tags surrounded by metal or liquid containers.

The FX9500 reader is available with eight antenna ports, as shown here.

“As RFID use has expanded in the market, people started with the low-hanging fruit,” Schaefer says—namely, simple RFID reading applications in which tagged cartons could be easily interrogated at a reader portal. However, he notes, as usage has expanded, the limitations of existing readers have become more apparent, especially for tagged items or cartons in which tags are located in the center of a pallet loaded with goods that passes a portal reader. “Now,” he states, “we are moving to the more challenging [applications].”

The FX9500 reader offers improved read accuracy and longer read ranges, Schaefer says, though he declines to specify how much greater the accuracy or read range would be. The device also has the capability of employing power-over-Ethernet (POE), and comes with either monostatic or bistatic configurations, with either four or eight antenna ports, enabling it to operate several portals simultaneously. Although Schaefer is unable to provide statistics regarding the higher sensitivity or read range, he reports that the FX9500 model “will set a new benchmark for performance in this space.” The higher performance, he adds, is the result of Motorola engineers’ “slightly more complicated design, with a higher number of specialized RF components.”
Motorola Solutions subjected the new reader to approximately six months of testing with potential end users, Schaefer says, noting that “those folks were extremely happy with the results.” Testing, he explains, consisted of placing more than 1,000 tags within the reader’s field of view, in “the kind of high-volume, high-performance scenarios for which it was designed, including real-world environmental testing designed to validate its use in challenging industrial environments.”

The new reader has a list price of $1,695 for the four-port model, and $1,995 for the eight-port version. The device measures approximately 7 and 3/16 inches by 9 and 5/8 inches—about one-third smaller than its XR series counterparts.

New smartPIN RFID Solution for Apparel Retailers

QID Solutions Ltd., a Hungarian provider of RFID hard tags and services, introduced a reusable smartPIN RFID EAS (electronic article surveillance) hard tag for fashion retailers at RFID Journal LIVE! 2011 this April in Orlando, Fla.
QID smartPIN is a revolutionary RFID add-on solution for apparel retailers. Significantly, it brings the benefits of RFID to any of the existing major EAS hard tags. The patent-pending QID smartPIN hard tag is EPC Gen 2-compliant with high RF performance. SmartPIN works with a variety of existing EAS technologies and main EAS locks via a standard pin, and also works independently as an RFID EAS tag. The tag solution utilizes the UPM Combo inlay equipped with NXP’s UCODE chip.
The systems integrator of the first sizeable implementation is Technowave Group, a supplier of autoID systems in the Middle East, pioneering in implementing UHF RFID based solutions to top brand retail companies in the Arabic Gulf Countries and India.
Retailers now have access to the combined advantages of RFID and conventional EAS tags, without having to modify their existing EAS installation. The product is ideal for multi-brand shops, in-shop inventory use or for the whole supply chain from the distribution centre to the point-of-sale. The smartPIN RFID tag can easily be added to existing EAS tag systems – as easily as an existing EAS system can be extended with smartPIN RFID.
QID smartPIN offers the following advantages over any other known solution:
  • Independent, high quality add-on component for existing EAS tags
  • EPC G2-standard compatibility
  • Easy and smooth transition into using RFID
  • Secure and safe solution for attachment to garments
  • Light (only 4.5 g) and durable, withstanding extreme conditions
  • Cost-efficient and sustainable solution
  • Option for combining barcodes
QID Solutions Ltd. won the Nokia Innovation Prize at the GINNT Expo in Budapest in September 2010. The company was acknowledged for its smartPIN solution together with local software development partner Smart Id Technologies, delivering the capacity to elevate the shopping experience and increase the efficiency of sales and logistics processes. Furthermore, article surveillance will be more intelligent while supporting business especially in the apparel and fashion retail industry.
“Adding a smartPIN RFID tag to an EAS installation requires no changes to the EAS system. There’s also no degradation in EAS tag performance. Several retailers have been appraising the product and we’ve started volume supplies this year to big brand names,” says Péter Perecz, sales manager, QID Solutions Ltd.
“QID’s smartPIN is truly a revolutionary product in its compliancy with the existing EAS market. Retailers can achieve the benefits of RFID simply by adding smartPINs in place of dummy pins. Shop inventory using RFID readers and smartPINs attached to apparel, for instance, is much faster than traditional barcode-based inventory. Moreover, you don’t lose the code from the item that easily,” says Mikko Nikkanen, business development director, UPM RFID.


Ex-Apple security expert becomes Verayo’s chief technology officer

Security startup Verayo has named former Apple security architect David M’Raihi as its new chief technology officer and vice president of engineering.

It’s pretty rare for high-ranking Apple employees to leave the company for a startup. So the move shows that Verayo, which makes a clever security and authentication technology, has an interesting future in the security and authentication business. We’ve followed Verayo closely for a couple of years and its security solutions are becoming more and more relevant, given the ongoing collapse of security systems in the face of determined hacker attacks.

As a respected security expert, M’Raihi is well-suited to advance the application of Verayo’s “physical unclonable functions” (PUF) technology — which allows for secure verification of someone’s identity — into mobile and other connected devices. He replaces Srini Devadas, inventor of the PUF technology at MIT and former CTO of Verayo. Devadas becomes chief scientist.

The move is the second major change for the company’s executive ranks. In April, former PayPal general manager Eric Duprat replaced Anant Agrawal as CEO. Agrawal remains an advisor to the company.

Before joining Verayo, M’Raihi was analyst and architect of mobile, portal devices and digital content distribution at Apple. He also held senior executive positions at authentication firm VeriSign.

“The strength and uniqueness of Verayo’s PUF technology combined with the numerous potential applications, particularly in mobile and connected devices, made joining the company a very enticing opportunity,” said M’Raihi. “As we enter a new era of smartphones and connected devices, we are in an opportune time to set the standard and build a strong foundation in security.”

The PUF solution is a result of the clever use of inexpensive technologies. San Jose, Calif.-based Verayo makes “unclonable RFIDs” or radio frequency identification tags, which are akin to the security badges that employees use to open doors.

One of the great problems of the chip industry is that no two chips are alike. Even when chip makers are fabricating the exact same chip product, like an Intel microprocessor, there are always minute and virtually unnoticeable differences from one chip to the next. The brilliant thing about chip startup Verayo is that it has figured out how to turn this flaw into an advantage. It uses the minute variations in chips to uniquely identify each one. In turn, it uses this identification method to create ID tags that are secure and can’t be cloned. Former CEO Agrawal called this “silicon biometrics,” akin to fingerprint identification.

The technology was dreamed up by Devadas, an electrical engineering and computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Devadas started the company in 2005 and developed the technology for two years with funding from the U.S. government. If you send an electrical signal into a chip, you will get a unique response because every chip has different PUFs. The good thing about these PUFs is they are cheap; they are tiny circuits that add virtually no cost to a chip.

The technology fits well with basic tests for authenticating products. You can give a chip 50 different challenges that produce 50 different responses. You store the responses on a server. Then you put the chip into a radio identification tag (RFID) that can be attached to a retail product as if it were a bar code. When someone buys that product, a reader at the cash register will read the serial number on the tag. The reader then sends the serial number back to the centralized computer in a data center. That server will look up the serial number in its database and send one of the 50 challenges associated with that specific chip. The reader receives the challenge and it prompts a response from the chip in the tag. That response goes back to the server. If it’s a match, then the chip is verified as authentic. Here’s a video description of Verayo’s technology.

Verayo has succeeded in getting various customer trials and is now working on mass producing its chips. But the chips aren’t that useful if there are no readers to read them. The company struck a deal with Denver-based SkyeTek, which makes low-cost RFID readers and software that performs the authentication functions required in Verayo’s chips. SkyeTek’s RFID readers come in a pen-size form called a Pentesta, for consumers to carry in their pockets. Consumers can pull out the half-inch-thick, battery-powered readers and use them when they’re about to buy drugs at a store. A tray-sized reader, dubbed the Trayesta, lets pharmacies test a bunch of drugs before they sell them to consumers. When the PUF authentication verifies a product, the test devices display a green light. If it’s fake, it displays a red light. The pens currently cost around $50, and SkyeTek is working on driving costs lower.

Verayo’s rivals include NXP. Verayo has raised an estimated $6 million to $7 million from Khosla Ventures, and it has revenue from the Pentagon.

Technology: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a method used to automatically identify and track things using radio waves. It is a two-component system that consists of an identifying tag (or transponder), and a device capable of reading the tag (reader). RFID tags can be applied to any object, including products, animals, or even people, from a given distance. Because RFID relies on radio waves in order to work, the tag can be anywhere from a few inches to somewhere beyond the line of sight of the reader. Based on a number of devices invented during WWII, and refined from a transponder device patented in 1973, modern RFID technology has become a part of our daily lives. Data stored on the RFID tag can range from something as simple as a serial number to several pages of data.

An RFID tag consists of a low power integrated circuit (or microchip) connected to an antenna made from either a copper or aluminum foil that is adhered to an object. Future RFID tags may be chipless designs printed directly onto objects. Readers pick up and decode the data broadcast by RFID tags when powered. There are two ways to power RFID: through radio waves originating from the reader (passive RFID), or with a battery (active RFID). Passive RFIDs are readable at a distance of between four inches and 33 feet (11 centimeters to 10 meters) and have an infinite range of applications, while active RFID tags have a range of several hundred feet and are best suited for specialized applications. Both work in three radio frequency ranges (30-300 KHz, 3-30 MHz and 300 MHz to 3 GHz), based on how they are used.

The U.S. government actively employs RFID technology in a variety of ways. For example, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of State (DOS) use RFID tags to store biometric information in passports and Trusted Traveler Program documents. For security purposes, RFID tags used in these types of applications do not contain personal identification information, but rather a number pointing to a record in a secure database. Other uses of RFID tags include tracking military supplies, nuclear waste, and other sensitive or critical items.

In the United States, other common uses for RFID tags include inventory control, merchandise tracking, toll or fare collection, and document verification. RFID is also gaining acceptance in the healthcare industry, which uses it for patient and medication tracking. Also, pet owners often have implantable RFID tags placed in dogs and cats (also known as chipping or microchipping) for identification purposes should they get lost (information on this practice is available from your veterinarian).

Film Equipment Rental Company Uses RFID to Save Money

On Sunset Boulevard, in Hollywood, California, film producers need video, sound, lighting, and production equipment. They rent it from Indie Rentals.  The company’s tagline is “Dream it, Shoot it,” and they are experts at providing the highest quality production equipment for filmmakers. Everyone at Indie Rentals has worked on set in the film industry, so they know the rigors and requirements faced by their customers. To ensure that the right equipment left the store with the right customer, Indie Rentals installed a NOX Vault Surveillance system from SimplyRFID.

With the NOX system, Indie Rentals placed ThingMagic Astra RFID readers at strategic locations throughout the warehouse. Additionally, IndieRentals purchased a NOX Vault handheld reader for check in and check out inventory operations. Now, when a customer checks out equipment, the handheld reader allows Indie Rental’s customer database to be immediately updated. This “unlocks” the equipment, allowing it to go through the ThingMagic readers installed above the doors without setting off alarms.

Using SimplyRFID’s NOX Core server software, and ThingMagic’s Astra reader, IndieRentals now has a constantly correct inventory Indie_Rentals_2control database. It is no longer necessary to shut down operations for a physical count. The NOX handheld and the ThingMagic readers survey the entire shop in seconds. Sitting at a desk, IndieRentals employees are able to survey the entire operation.

Eric Maciver, President of IndieRentals, says the RFID system has prevented accidental loss of a number of $10,000 plus cameras this year. “Before we installed the NOX system, it was possible for our high value equipment to accidentally be over-issued. Now, our system automatically notes what equipment is going out the door. Discrepancies set off immediate alerts, and we can fix the problem right away.”

As equipment is returned, the ThingMagic readers capture their presence as they walk through the door. The staff is able to see what has come back in, and make it available for the next customer. Carl Brown, President of SimplyRFID, says the Indie Rentals application is an example of the synergy added to inventory systems through RFID. “Once the high-value equipment is tagged with RFID, it is immediately traceable throughout the supply chain process. The cameras and sound equipment are both tracked and inventoried by the same mechanisms. Indie Rentals now knows not only what is on its shelves, but what has come into the warehouse through customer returns. Even if the returned equipment has not yet been placed back into inventory, the staff is aware that it is in the building. This makes it possible to rent that equipment out again, even more quickly.”

Indie_Rentals_3About ThingMagic

ThingMagic, a division of Trimble, is a leading provider of UHF RFID reader engines, development platforms and design services for a wide range of applications. ThingMagic develops products for demanding high-volume applications and provides consulting and design services to create solutions for challenging applications. ThingMagic’s customers include some of the world’s largest industrial automation firms, manufacturers, automotive companies, retailers, and consumer companies. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the ThingMagic business was founded in 2000 by a group of visionary PhD graduates from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. ThingMagic is “The Engine in RFID™”.




About SimplyRFID

SimplyRFiD pioneered the RFID market with its Pro-Tags and On-Demand products becoming the #1 supplier for the DoD RFID logistics and RFID asset tracking systems. SimplyRFiD is committed to making the best, most innovative RFID solutions that work right, every time. More than 2,000 companies use SimplyRFiD tools and services.

Who’s Who In The Bar Code Industry

businessmenThe bar code industry is continuing to grow and change.  However, a good many of the top players are well established companies and we thought we’d do a quick review.

Motorola Solutions

Motorola Solutions is a division of Motorola which was founded in 1928 by Paul and Joseph Galvin.  The first manufactured products were the battery eliminator, car radios, and two-way radios. In 1978 Motorola created a laser bar code verifier which was more accurate in scanning than some of the other scanners available at the time. With this laser verifier, bar codes were also improved so that the information contained in the bar could be read more easily. In 1980 Symbol Technologies (acquired by Motorola in 2006)  created a hand held laser bar code scanner, and in 1983 an upgraded scanner was made which could scan bar codes from a distance of 10 inches. This brand new model set the industry standard for bar code scanners.(1) Motorola Solutions generated an annual revenue of $7.9 billion in 2010.(2)

Zebra Technologies

Zebra Technologies has its origins in the state of Illinois back in 1969 but later moved to Delaware in 1991. The company produces a wide variety printers for bar codes from high-range to mobile ones. Zebra Technologies has distribution centers and offices in over 100 countries and produced bar code equipment for use by the European Union postal system to improve mail processing and delivery.(4) In 2010, Zebra pulled in an annual revenue of $957 million.(5) That year the company collaborated with Honeywell to create and manufacture bar code printers and scanners marketed to the health care and field mobility industries.(6)


Intermec has been in the bar code business since 1966, making solution products for businesses that require the fastest and most efficient means of data capture technology. Intermec makes durable, high performance bar code printers designed to withstand heavy usage in everyday business.(9) Also specializing in radio frequency identification instruments, the company signed a contract with the British Royal Mail in 2008, providing their postal service with mobile bar code technology.(10)


Honeywell manufactures technology for global security and safety. Founded in 1904 by Mark Honeywell, the heat generator was the first machine perfected for his plumbing business. Soon the company included clocks after merging with the Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company in 1927, eventually moving into security systems. Honeywell plays an important role not only in the aerospace but also the bar code industry, providing high tech scanners to businesses that need them.(11) Honeywell remains one of the bigger firms, pulling in $33.4 billion in revenue for 2010.(12), although specific bar code industry related revenue is estimated to be under $500 million.  Honeywell owns the Metrologic brand and the Voyager is the best selling handheld laser scanner ever, according to Honeywell staff.

ScanSource, Inc.

ScanSource, Inc. specializes in the wholesale distribution of bar code scanners and printers, providing data capture and POS solutions to businesses. The company has been incorporated since 1992, and was the first in selling bar code equipment as a value-added reseller.(13) On the Fortune 1000 list, ScanSource ranks in at #881 and is an environmentally conscious company, having recently established a recycling program.(14) The company has earned a net sales of $613 million in the third quarter ending in March 2011.(15)

Datamax O’Neil

Datamax was founded in 1977 in Orlando, Florida before it merged with O’Neil Product Development, which was based in California, in 2006. Datamax was originally an engineering consulting company before it specialized in bar code label printers and scanning devices. In the 1980’s the company also developed event admissions and airline ticketing systems.(16) Today, Datamax O’Neil specializes in bar code equipment, manufacturing both scanners and printers for businesses. A privately owned company, Datamax O’Neil recently unveiled a new thermal desktop printer called Mark III, which is compact at 4” and comes in four different models. The Mark III has been designed to meet bar code requirements frequently used in retail, healthcare, and government sectors.(17)


Bluestar is a major global distributor of bar code and POS equipment. Having offices in the Americas and Europe, the company works with value-added resellers of bar code equipment plus technical, educational, marketing and business development services to companies that want to have the right bar code devices to meet their needs.(18) Bluestar is based in Hebron, Kentucky and has been operating since 1988. In April, 2011, Bluestar was named to the Fast 55 list by the Cincinnati Business Courier for being one of the fastest growing companies in the region.(19)


Printronix is a global leader in the printing solutions industry and has been around since 1974. The company was founded by Robert A. Kleist and was originally located in Delaware. Printronix provides bar code printing solutions to businesses and also provides thermal and RFID printers for high quality needs. The company uses innovative technology for bar code needs in all types of businesses. Now based in Irvine, California, Printronix ceased being a publicly traded in 2008 and is now privately owned.(20) In May 2011, Printronix released a new line of matrix printers called TallyGenicom.(21)

Monarch – Avery Dennison

Monarch bar code printers are manufactured by Avery Dennison, a main leader in business technology solutions since 1935. Made at the company’s plant in Miamisburg, Ohio, Monarch is one of the best known names in the bar code industry and made the Top 10 Manufacturing Plants in the United States by Industry Week magazine.(22) In May 2009, the company introduced a new hybrid thermal printer that operates at high speed which makes it a solution product for the bar code industry.(23) In 2010 Avery Dennison had annual revenue of $6.5 billion.(24)

RFID and Auto ID News: Are RFID Tagged Humans Closer than we Think?

Are Technologist’s Experiments Idle Fun, or Leading Indicator of Coming Big Brother Era?

For more than two decades, there have been concerns about the potential use of auto ID technologies to track humans, ranging from those raising serious concerns to more fringe elements predicting the apocalypse.

In the early days of bar coding in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was not uncommon to emerge from one of the then trade shows focused on the technology to find flyers under car wiper blades with a picture of a man with a bar code tattooed on his forehead, with bold headlines about the “mark of the devil” or something similar.

Now, some 2000 humans, and millions of animals, have RFID chips embedded under their skin.

Amal Graafstra is a “technologist” on the US West coast that has taken the plunge – and talked his girlfriend into the procedure as well. He has an RFID chip implanted in each of his hands, allowing him keyless access to his and his girlfriend’s homes, and to automatically turn on electronic devices and who knows what else down the road.

“When I open my front door, I don’t reach for a key. When I log into my computer, I don’t touch my keyboard. When I start my motorcycle, again, no key needed. Instead, I just wave my hand and I’m in business,” Graafstra recently wrote in an article for IEEE’s Spectrum magazine.

What started Graafstra on this strange journey? He says it started in 2005 when he was managing computer servers for medical facilities around Seattle, a job which required him to carry ring of keys to almost 100 different doors and drawers.

“That bulky key ring got me thinking. It struck me that modern keys are just crude identification devices, little changed in centuries,’ Graafstra says. “Even if each lock were unique—most aren’t—keys can be copied in any hardware store and, once distributed, are hard to control.”

What best to solve this or related problems? Graafstra consider biometrics, such as fingerprints or retinal scans, but found the technology unreliable or too expensive.

That turns his attention to RFID, where he learned that some 20 million RFID rags had already been implanted in dogs, cats and other domestic animals for tracking and identification purpose, not including the millions more used with livestock (usually not implanted). Graafstra did not want to use one of these pet tags, though they were designed for implantation, because they require registration with some type of central database.

The ROI for RFID in Distribution: It’s There

Lift Truck-Based Auto ID and Indoor
Positioning Solutions Deliver 12-24 Month
ROI by Error Proofing Processes Providing
Virtually 100% Inventory Accuracy

It took a while, but Graafstra eventually found a glass encased, passive UHF tag about the size of a grain of rice (from Philips) that, while not approved for implantation, seemed like a potentially good fit. It had advanced encryption, for example, one of Graafstra’s important criteria. He even experimented with a few light hammer hits to test the transponder’s ruggedness, and found it took quite a wallop to shatter the tag.

Not long after, after signing a waiver, he found a doctor who was willing to first sterilize the tags, make incisions, and put the transponders in each of Graafstra’s hands, as X-Ray photos show below. After the small incision, the tag is implanted using s syringe loaded with the chip.

Of course, to solve the original lock problem, there is no need to have RFID tags embedded under the skin, Key fobs, ID cads or similar media are already in widespread use for security type applications.

However, Graastra says,” if the tag is implanted in your body, I reasoned, so much the better: it’s impossible not to have it when you need it.”

Buying a series of relatively low cost UHF readers, soon Graafstra was controlling access to a variety of things around his home by simply waiving on hand or the other in front of a reader. He later installed an RFID access system to allow him to enter his girlfriend’s home in the same manner – which ultimately, if initially reluctantly, led her to have RFID tags implanted in her hands as well. The read range is 5-7 centimeters, he says.

The couple that RFIDs together stays together, we have heard.

VeriChip Already in the Business

It turns out there is already a commercial company focused on human implantable RFID chips for a variety of applications.

VeriChip, offers systems where implanted people can pay for drinks and gain access to VIP rooms in clubs using their implant and other kinds of similar programs. It has some success with the concept in certain areas of the globe, but nothing so far in the US. It also offers implantable chips for medical records purposes, such communicating that an unconscious accident victim has diabetes or a heart condition.

Of course, privacy concerns come in to play, and Graafsta says he received hundreds of often scathing emails accusing him of helping to enable a “Big Brother” society where humans are tracked by the government night and day.

“If such readers proliferate, and there would be many incentives to install them, we would find ourselves in a surveillance society of 24/7 mass tracking,” said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst for the speech, privacy and technology program at the American Civil Liberties Union. He adds that “Many people find the idea creepy.”

But Graafstra himself says that his journey with RFID is at least voluntary, whereas in London and soon other cities nearly the entire urban area is under video surveillance – and facial recognition technology is being widely deployed to identify humans as needed.

What’s your reaction to Graafstra’s RFID hands? Is this just a gimmick, or do you think many other may make such a move? Is this a path the Big Brother? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

RFID and Auto ID News: Are RFID Tagged Humans Closer than we Think?

Are Technologist’s Experiments Idle Fun, or Leading Indicator of Coming Big Brother Era?

For more than two decades, there have been concerns about the potential use of auto ID technologies to track humans, ranging from those raising serious concerns to more fringe elements predicting the apocalypse.

In the early days of bar coding in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was not uncommon to emerge from one of the then trade shows focused on the technology to find flyers under car wiper blades with a picture of a man with a bar code tattooed on his forehead, with bold headlines about the “mark of the devil” or something similar.

Now, some 2000 humans, and millions of animals, have RFID chips embedded under their skin.

Amal Graafstra is a “technologist” on the US West coast that has taken the plunge – and talked his girlfriend into the procedure as well. He has an RFID chip implanted in each of his hands, allowing him keyless access to his and his girlfriend’s homes, and to automatically turn on electronic devices and who knows what else down the road.

“When I open my front door, I don’t reach for a key. When I log into my computer, I don’t touch my keyboard. When I start my motorcycle, again, no key needed. Instead, I just wave my hand and I’m in business,” Graafstra recently wrote in an article for IEEE’s Spectrum magazine.

What started Graafstra on this strange journey? He says it started in 2005 when he was managing computer servers for medical facilities around Seattle, a job which required him to carry ring of keys to almost 100 different doors and drawers.

“That bulky key ring got me thinking. It struck me that modern keys are just crude identification devices, little changed in centuries,’ Graafstra says. “Even if each lock were unique—most aren’t—keys can be copied in any hardware store and, once distributed, are hard to control.”

What best to solve this or related problems? Graafstra consider biometrics, such as fingerprints or retinal scans, but found the technology unreliable or too expensive.

That turns his attention to RFID, where he learned that some 20 million RFID rags had already been implanted in dogs, cats and other domestic animals for tracking and identification purpose, not including the millions more used with livestock (usually not implanted). Graafstra did not want to use one of these pet tags, though they were designed for implantation, because they require registration with some type of central database.

The ROI for RFID in Distribution: It’s There

Lift Truck-Based Auto ID and Indoor
Positioning Solutions Deliver 12-24 Month
ROI by Error Proofing Processes Providing
Virtually 100% Inventory Accuracy

It took a while, but Graafstra eventually found a glass encased, passive UHF tag about the size of a grain of rice (from Philips) that, while not approved for implantation, seemed like a potentially good fit. It had advanced encryption, for example, one of Graafstra’s important criteria. He even experimented with a few light hammer hits to test the transponder’s ruggedness, and found it took quite a wallop to shatter the tag.

Not long after, after signing a waiver, he found a doctor who was willing to first sterilize the tags, make incisions, and put the transponders in each of Graafstra’s hands, as X-Ray photos show below. After the small incision, the tag is implanted using s syringe loaded with the chip.

Of course, to solve the original lock problem, there is no need to have RFID tags embedded under the skin, Key fobs, ID cads or similar media are already in widespread use for security type applications.

However, Graastra says,” if the tag is implanted in your body, I reasoned, so much the better: it’s impossible not to have it when you need it.”

Buying a series of relatively low cost UHF readers, soon Graafstra was controlling access to a variety of things around his home by simply waiving on hand or the other in front of a reader. He later installed an RFID access system to allow him to enter his girlfriend’s home in the same manner – which ultimately, if initially reluctantly, led her to have RFID tags implanted in her hands as well. The read range is 5-7 centimeters, he says.

The couple that RFIDs together stays together, we have heard.

VeriChip Already in the Business

It turns out there is already a commercial company focused on human implantable RFID chips for a variety of applications.

VeriChip, offers systems where implanted people can pay for drinks and gain access to VIP rooms in clubs using their implant and other kinds of similar programs. It has some success with the concept in certain areas of the globe, but nothing so far in the US. It also offers implantable chips for medical records purposes, such communicating that an unconscious accident victim has diabetes or a heart condition.

Of course, privacy concerns come in to play, and Graafsta says he received hundreds of often scathing emails accusing him of helping to enable a “Big Brother” society where humans are tracked by the government night and day.

“If such readers proliferate, and there would be many incentives to install them, we would find ourselves in a surveillance society of 24/7 mass tracking,” said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst for the speech, privacy and technology program at the American Civil Liberties Union. He adds that “Many people find the idea creepy.”

But Graafstra himself says that his journey with RFID is at least voluntary, whereas in London and soon other cities nearly the entire urban area is under video surveillance – and facial recognition technology is being widely deployed to identify humans as needed.

What’s your reaction to Graafstra’s RFID hands? Is this just a gimmick, or do you think many other may make such a move? Is this a path the Big Brother? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

Coming Dominance of On-Demand Supply Chain Software

The On-Demand supply chain software world is really coming.

I must admit I have been until recently a bit of a skeptic. Why? Well, many of the early On-Demand solutions simply were not that robust in terms of functionality. Second, I wasn’t convinced that in many cases that the economics made sense – why pay for something forever when you can pay for it once? Third, in many cases, especially with Transportation Management Systems (TMS), I have seen a tendency for implementations to be “dumbed down,” for a number of reasons, simply meaning they tended to be much less ambitious than traditional deployments.

But I am changing my tune. In my 10 predictions for Supply Chain 2015 late last year, I had as one of them that On-Demand Supply Chain software would come to dominate the market by that time, and in subsequent presentations I have given on the 2015 supply chain, I have told audiences that I am as confident in that prediction as I am any of the other nine on my list.

That doesn’t mean the thousands of traditionally deployed software applications are going to go away any time soon, but it does mean the preponderance of new software implementations by that time will be of the on-demand variety – and that this will have a profound impact on technology vendors and their customers.

We explore all this and more in our just released Supply Chain Digest Letter focused on On-Demand Supply Chain Software. Many of you should have received a copy in the mail. For others, as always, you can download the full electronic copy of the Letter and access a wealth of other information on the Resources page associated with the Letter. You will find it here: On-Demand Supply Chain Software Resources Page
Gilmore Says:

Increasingly, you will be able to try the software before you buy it! What a dramatic, game changing impact that will have.

First, as I have in the past, let me note that there are several dimensions to “On-Demand,” and that many companies don’t always well think this through.

The classic “On-Demand” model means that someone else physically hosts the application, and that rather than buying the software upfront, as has historically been done, the software is paid for through some kind of transaction and/or subscription fees. Conversely, traditional software meant paying for the license upfront, and having it installed on a server within the four walls of the enterprise and managing that system yourself.

But there are permutations, such as potentially installing the software within your enterprise, but paying for it on a transaction/subscription basis, or buying it upfront, but having some other party host the application for you.

The key point is that you have to think through what you are really trying to achieve.

You can add to that decisions about who is really going to run the software; for example, it is common in TMS selections processes for 3PLs to be also bidding along with software vendors for the business and saying they will not only provide the TMS (usually one of the ones also being separately bid) but manage some or all of the transportation process as well.

This last point is actually important, because I believe that it is inevitable that the combination of the On-Demand model and the mega-trend towards outsourcing will increasingly lead to on-demand software vendors and/or their partners offering both a solution and a managed service, or what is often called Business Process Outsourcing. The line between supply chain software and services will become increasingly blurred.

Which brings up all the terms, and there are a bunch of them here: Hosted, On-Demand, Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud Computing, each somehow connected to this new approach to software delivery.

Do the terms matter? A bit. SaaS is often said to imply “multi-tenancy” (as in a tenant), meaning multiple companies are running on one “instance” of the software. That can significantly reduce management costs, which can lower prices for users. Of course, getting an application to securely support running perhaps dozens of different companies with their own database, configurations, etc, on one piece of software is a challenging technical feat – which is in part why the On-Demand model has been slow to come.

“Cloud Computing,” while very techie sounding, will also be important. The basic idea is that a software provider or hoster will have a farm of servers, each of which can be called on to provide processing power to a given application. In short, what that means is that rather than needing to acquire an expensive server that will easily meet your peak processing requirements but be well underutilized most of the time, you can tap into the power of the farm as needed, and just pay for that.

As we note in the Letter, it’s similar to installing a sorter in a distribution center that is scaled for peak days but is well underutilized most of the year. What if you could install a much smaller sorter that meets baseline needs, and have it magically expand just on heavy days? You would save a lot of money, and that in a sense is what Cloud Computing can offer on the hardware side.

I believe that On-Demand supply chain software is becoming a disruptive technology. Current vendors from ERP to planning to execution will be effected differently; some will make a good transition and thrive, while others will find themselves under assault from a new wave of On-Demand vendors built with that model from the get-go.

Why do I think the On-Demand model will take over? For one, it’s the Google generation moving up the management ranks. Everything else they access will increasingly be coming from an on-line provider – why should enterprise apps be any different?

Second, in the end, it is a better financial model for vendors. In the Great Recession, it was a lot better to be receiving a steady stream of subscription or transaction revenues, even if down some 20%, than having a tough time selling any new licenses for several quarters.

The challenge comes in the transition, from the software vendor’s basic financial model to how sale people are compensated. But here is the bottom line truth: once the traditional providers make their On-Demand offerings what they lead with, rather than as the fall back offering as is generally true today, then the percent of On-Demand sales for new deployments will take off like a rocket. That day is not too far away.

Think of some of the other changes we will see. Increasingly, you will be able to try the software before you buy it! What a dramatic, game changing impact that will have. No more trying to guess what the software really does through mind-numbing RFPs and software demos, but by accessing a version of the software on-line and seeing for yourself. It will certainly put the buyer in more control.

Of course, there are pros and cons as with everything, and today, you need to consider lots of factors. We cover that and more in the Letter, and on Monday on the Resources page will have a Total Cost of Ownership calculator that will allow you to compare On-Demand versus traditional solutions. The ability or lack thereof to build competitive advantage through a unique software solution is certainly one concern that has to be considered.

But On-Demand is the future. And 2015 is not that far away…

BaxTek Solutions can help guide your company into the right direction and ensure a brighter future.
Call today for a free phone consultation

FDA Recall Could Be Largest Ever

FDA Initiates Investigation That Could Lead to Huge Recall

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration believe the public health risk is low, and no one is known to have fallen ill as a result of the contamination, but, manufacturers voluntarily recalled 56 products last week, and that number is expected to balloon in the coming weeks into what could be one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union says over 10,000 products eventually could be affected.

FDA says thousands of types of processed foods, including many varieties of soups, chips, frozen dinners, hot dogs and salad dressings, may pose a health threat because they contain a flavor enhancer that could be contaminated with salmonella. Salmonella was detected early last month in one lot of the flavor enhancer hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or HVP made by Basic Food Flavors, as well as inside the company’s Nevada manufacturing facility. The company is one of only a handful that make HVP. The additive is mixed into foods to give them a meaty or savory flavor. It’s similar to monosodium glutamate, or MSG.

The contamination is believed to date to September 2009, meaning millions of pounds of potentially tainted HPV, all of which the company has recalled, was shipped in bulk to foodmakers over five months. Federal officials say the public health threat is low because most products containing HVP are cooked during processing or carry cooking instructions for consumers, so any salmonella would be destroyed before the food was eaten. Ready-to-eat products, such as chips and other snack foods, would carry greater risks.

In response to the FDA investigation, Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said consumers should not have to think twice about the safety of a food item when they reach into their pantry. According to Harkin, our nation’s food safety system is outdated, lacks proper resources and, quite simply, does not adequately protect American consumers, and Congress cannot wait any longer to pass comprehensive food safety legislation.

On November 18, 2009 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee reported out S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. A similar bill is awaiting action in the House. Harkin, who is chairman of the Senate committee, says he hopes to have a comprehensive food safety bill on the President’s desk in the very near future.

“We must give FDA the tools to prevent a food borne illness outbreak before it happens, rather than react when it is already too late,” Harkin said. “And when food is tainted, we must provide the tools to respond quickly and protect consumers.”

What’s “In Store” for PTI

Last December, in a submission to the FDA, Mr.Greg Fritz, Vice President of Produce Packaging, Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio referred to the PTI as a “boondoggle”. The list of those who agree with Mr. Fritz is growing.

Every one can agree that our food chain has become extremely complex. Today, we depend on a long chain of distribution to provide us our food. Most of us – as good consumers – don’t give this long journey a second thought. We blithely walk into our local gorcery store on a weekly, daily, or spot-puchase basis and fill our carts with the food we intend to feed our families. Very few of us stop to consider that nearly 1 in 4 Americans is sickened by the food they eat every year.

What kind of track record is that? How successful would a CPA be if 1 in 4 of their clients were subjected to a tax audit?

In response to concerns over the safety of our food supply, United Fresh Produce Association, Produce Marketing Association the Canadian Produce Marketing Association conferred to develop a solution for the produce industry, the Produce Traceability Initiative, or PTI. PTI’s main focus is to “to help the industry mazimize the effectiveness of current traceback procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency of traceability systems for the future.” The vision for PTI is to have every case of produce labeled for chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability by 2012. Sounds like an admirable plan. But are they getting sufficient “buy in” from their own industry?

PMA conducted a survey recenlty asking for feedback on the PTI from “all industry members involved in the produce supply chain, from grower to retail and foodservice.” That’s a lot of players. PMA membership is reported at about 7,000. But because the survey was addressed to “all industry members”, I did a quick search of fruit and vegetable growers/producers in the US; the list was just under16,000. Add brokers, packers, markets, grocers, and you can imagine how this number would increase. From this list of potentially-interested participants in the produce supply chain, PMA received….(wait for it)…. less than 300 responses. Not encouraging. Even if we were only to consider PMA’s membership, the rate of response is less than 4.3%. If the produce industry isn’t on board for PTI, how can they hope to make it relevant to consumers? And shouldn’t that be a huge factor?

Much of the concern of and hesitation to adopting PTI for most members of the produce supply chain has to do with the cost of implementation. In general the industry believes that adequate internal traceability all ready exists; that it’s more a matter of the FDA wanting one single format/report in the event of a recall. There is always a price associated with the integration of new technology into an existing process, so the question becomes, “where is the best place to spend this money”? And regardless of the answer, will the consumer be willing to absorb any of the additional costs associated therein? conducted a poll that reported: 73% of of those polled regard the overall food uspply as safe; 48% said their confidence in the safety of the nation’s food supply has decreased; only 54% think enough is being done to ensure food safety and 83% are concerned with harmful bacteria or chemicals in food. Other polls reveal that most consumers would be more for safer foods. It would seem that on the surface, the answer to the added cost question is yes.

I think the answer lays somewhere in the middle. PTI won’t necessarily improve traceability per se, but rather, standardize the format in which the information is communicated throughout the food supply chain. Between the mandates of PTI and the legislation currently before the 2 houses of Congress, the requirements seem overly-zealous to the point of being draconian. More should be done in terms of preventing the root causes of contamination prior to assuming a “one-size-fits-all” solution is the answer. I do believe that there are added efficiencies to be had through the increased use of technology in the food chain. The payoff, literally, comes in finding that balance….

IBM Debuts Food Traceability iPhone App

IBM is soon to release its’ new iPhone App, Breadcrumbs, which will provide consumers with information on the food products they buy, including a list of ingredients, when the food product was manufactured and any related recall information.

Is that going to be enough to interest the average consumer? What about safety standards and compliance? At minimum, PTI requires the name of the manufacturer (think “in-store” brands… Wal-mart does not manufacture their “Great Value” food products), address & phone number of the facility, commodity ID, net contents and country of origin labeling.

What about images of the manufacturing facility? Take this image of one location of Peanut Corporation of America. You’ll recall that PCA was the source of the peanut salmonella outbreak that led to the illness of hundreds and billions of dollars in damages throughout the food chain. What is your first impression? Do you think this facility looks especially clean, sterile, innocuous? It looks pretty shabby to me.
pca image.jpg

And then let’s consider factory-farmed animals – chicken for example. If you knew the packaged chicken you bought from your local grocer was most likely produced in the conditions depicted below, wouldn’t you think twice about buying that brand? I have seen plenty of chicken farms and have learned that not only are free-range chicken healthier, the meat tastes so much better as well. The same could be said for beef, pork, & lamb.

factory farming chicken blog 2.17.09.jpg

So to what information would you, as a consumer, want access when choosing the food that will go in to your mouth? Join the discussion @ LinkedIn under the Smarter Food Supply Group. Feel free to e-mail me at with your thoughts and suggestions. I will post the responses next week. I’m looking forward to your input!



IBM Debuts Food Traceability iPhone App


Today at the IBM Information on Demand event, IBM will demo a new app that will bring the Internet of Things to the iPhone. The as yet unreleased iPhone app is called Breadcrumbs and it will give consumers access to information about grocery food items. The app will be able to scan barcodes and deliver a summary of the ingredients in a food item, along with when it was manufactured. That data is usually on the food label, but Breadcrumbs goes a step further – it can provide extra information such as product recall data. If a product has been recalled in the past, this app will tell the consumer all of the relevant details.

Breadcrumbs is able to scan barcodes using the iPhone’s camera. The consumer simply points their iPhone at a food item and gets back relevant data. Other than product recall details, the information returned to the user is mostly the same as what’s on food labels – only it is pulled from the Web.

IBM told ReadWriteWeb that when 4G becomes common place in mobile phones, then apps such as Breadcrumbs will become more powerful and be readily used on-the-fly by consumers when grocery shopping.

The larger trend here is the convergence of smart phones with the Internet of Things (i.e. Internet-connected real world objects). Devices such as the iPhone essentially become sensor and RFID readers, which allow consumers to interact with real world objects in a much more detailed manner.

Breadcrumbs is a glimpse of what we’ll see in the near future, when information will literally – finally – be at the consumer’s fingertips when they’re shopping for groceries or any other goods where data is plentiful. Up till now, data such as product recall information has largely been inaccessible to consumers – at least when at the grocery store.

In the long term expect to see apps like Breadcrumbs provide data on where and when food items get consumed, together with how long they were on the shelf before being consumed. Apps like Breadcrumbs may even be able to tell who consumed the items (privacy advocates, start your engines!). These apps will also be useful in determining counterfeit items, for example when buying an expensive luxury good.

The date that Breadcrumbs will be launched on iPhone has not yet been announced by IBM.

Salami Salmonella Recall Expanded as Infections Hit 230 People

Salami Salmonella Recall Expanded as Infections Hit 230 People

Federal investigators announced the expansion of a salami recall this week, to include another 115,000 pounds of meat that is believed to be contaminated with Salmonella Montevideo. At least 230 people have already reported suffering salmonella food poisoning in connection with the tainted salami.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Tuesday that inspectors have found contamination in more unopened salami products manufactured by Daniele International, Inc. The company originally issued a pepper-coated salami recall on January 23, for approximately 1.24 million pounds of salami and other italian sausage products.

The latest expansion of the recall includes another 115,000 pounds of salami and sausage products rolled in mozzarella cheese. The products were sold in 8-ounce packages under the Daniele, Dietz & Watson, and Boar’s Head labels. A complete list of the products affected by the salami recall expansion can be found in the FSIS press release.

According to an FDA update on the ongoing investigation into the Salmonella Montevideo outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that at least 230 people in 44 states, and the District of Columbia, have fallen ill from food poisoning.

Salmonella Montevideo infection can cause symptoms such as abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and fever. While symptoms tend to resolve within a few days or weeks for most healthy adults, the elderly, young children and those with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to severe, and potentially life-threatening, infections.

The FDA has said that Rhode Island health inspectors found packages of black pepper in the Daniele processing plant to be tainted with the same strain of salmonella responsible for the illnesses, however the FDA has been unable to confirm that the pepper is the source of the outbreak. The suppliers of the black pepper have voluntarily placed their product on hold while the investigation continues.

rfid ready – Auto-ID-/RFID-News & ArticlesBaxTek Solutions Food Traceability One Stop Shopping


BaxTek Solutions Food Traceability One Stop Shopping

BaxTek Solutions is one of the leading Systems Integrators in the barcode verification, data collection, and supply chain industry that offers a diverse suite of products including RFID, RF Terminals, Printers, Wireless Access Points, Software, Remote Portable Terminal and Printer Management and Repair Services. The company specializes in traceability and tracking solutions for the food industry from “farm to fork.”

Wayne Baxter, President of the firm noted, “BaxTek Solutions offers complete “Farm to Fork” traceability answers: from monitoring irrigated fields where livestock feed; to continuous monitoring of product through processing to finished goods; to monitoring ambient product temperature during transport to the consumer market. BaxTek Solutions has formed a Strategic Alliance of seasoned professionals in the dairy, grain, meat, and vegetable food production industries. Our group can guide your operation to full regulatory compliance, including HACCP/SSOP Procedures, the FDA Bioterrorism Act and COOL Labeling Requirements. BaxTek Solutions offers One-Stop-Shop Traceability Answers

When choosing a systems integrator, it is essential that the correct mix of hardware and software vendors are carefully chosen to create the best solution. BaxTek Solutions takes the complexity of integrating these products and makes it so that the customer has a solution that is easy to deploy and use. In most cases, a single off-the shelf – or “plug-and-play” – solution will not fulfill all of a customer’s needs- The customer is then left to tackle the problem of complexity.

BaxTek Solutions has constructed a total solutions package,, enabling food producers, processors and retailers to bring their current traceability efforts to the next level while simultaneously making a profit center out of what was once a cost center. BaxTek Solutions participates in the design of the project, the integration of legacy systems, implementation of the new applications, and remote management of devices deployed into the field. Choosing BaxTek Solutions provides the most efficient use of time and money for “Track and Trace” implementation.

BaxTek Solutions represents all major Auto ID hardware manufactures (including LXE, Zebra, Motorola, Datamax, Intermec, Vocollect, Alien, Cisco, Unitech, Datalogic, Honeywell, and Sato.) Software solutions include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), asset tracking, inventory tracking, custom, and mobile applications such as, DSD (direct store delivery) and field service. BaxTek Solutions’ diverse customer base includes manufacturers, distributors, as well as firms involved in logistics, mobility, and government projects. BaxTek Solutions’ team of project managers and engineers take a partnership approach to every project, achieving a rapid return on investment for clients.

Related Links:

GFSI Food Safety Standards

GFSI Food Safety Standards

Several standards exist to help companies comply with food-safety
laws. Any of them can help your company reduce costly recalls.

safety standards have been well accepted in Europe for quite some time.
But as international food trade expanded, it was apparent that the
existing private and public food-safety policies could not stave off the
food recalls that were occurring worldwide. A representation of common
ground between food safety schemes was needed to enhance food safety,
ensure consumer protection, and to strengthen consumer confidence.

To address these needs, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was
coordinated and launched in May 2000 by CIES–The Food Business Forum,
an independent global food business network headquartered in Paris.
Founded in 1953, CIES has developed numerous programs for retailers and
supply chains, and continues to facilitate the development of common
positions and tools on strategic and practical issues affecting the food
business. CIES shares best practices throughout 150 countries.

About GFSI

The GFSI is a nonprofit foundation created under Belgian law with a
mission to work on continuous improvement in food safety management
systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of food to consumers. The
GFSI objectives are to:

Promote convergence between food safety
standards through maintaining a benchmarking process for food safety
management schemes

Improve cost efficiency throughout the food
supply chain through the common acceptance of GFSI-recognized standards
by retailers around the world

Provide a unique international stakeholder
platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and sharing of best food
safety practices and information


The GFSI guidance document was developed for guidance and to set
commonly agreed criteria as a framework to which food-safety-related
schemes can be benchmarked. It is not a standard and GFSI is not
involved in certification or accreditation activities.

Currently in its fifth edition, the guidance document provides the
procedure for benchmarking of food safety management schemes, the key
elements for the production of food within a conforming food safety
management standard (i.e., good manufacturing practices, or an HACCP
program or equivalent system ), and guidance on the certification
processes of a food safety management system.

Different standards

Currently there are four food safety standards formally benchmarked to
GFSI. They are the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Global Standard for
Food Safety, the International Food Standard (IFS), the (Dutch)
National Board of Experts Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
(NBE HACCP) Option B, and the Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Code.

In this article, we’ll analyze the Global Standard for Food Safety and
SQF 2000. We’ll also discuss ISO 22000, due to its international
presence. ISO 22000 is currently undergoing the GFSI benchmarking
process, and may soon be recognized.

BRC Global Standard for Food Safety

The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety is an accredited, certifiable
standard, and the first one to be approved by GFSI in 2000. It has been
adopted by more than 8,000 food businesses in more than 80 countries.

It sets out the requirements for food businesses that process food or
are involved with the preparation of primary products for supply as
retailer-branded products and branded products. It also covers food or
ingredients for use by food-service companies, catering companies, and
food manufacturers.

The principles of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety are based on
two key components: senior management commitment and HACCP–an approach
to food safety that identifies where a likely health hazard may occur,
then establishes and maintains safety measures to prevent the hazard
from occurring.

Each clause of the standard begins with a “statement of intent” to which
a company must comply to be certified. Within the standard are certain
fundamental requirements that relate to systems that are crucial to the
establishment and operation of an effective food safety program. These
fundamental requirements together with the statement of intent specify
the criteria against which the audit will be carried out. The clauses
that are deemed fundamental are:

Clause 1–”Senior management commitment and
continual improvement”

Clause 2–”The food safety plan–HACCP”

Clause 3.5–”Internal audits”

Clause 3.8–”Corrective and preventive action”


Clause 4.3.1–”Layout, product flow and

Clause 4.9–”Housekeeping and hygiene”

Clause 5.2–”Handling requirements for
specific materials–Materials containing allergens and identity
preserved materials”

Clause 6.1–”Control of operations”

Clause 7.1–”Training”


Safe Quality Food 2000 Code

The SQF 2000 Code is designed for use in all sectors of the food
industry as a HACCP-based quality management system to reduce the
incidence of unsafe food reaching the marketplace. It is a food safety
program that also covers product quality. It offers benefits to
suppliers and buyers at all links in the food supply chain by addressing
the buyer’s food safety and quality requirements, and provides a
solution for the suppliers.

First launched in 1994, The Food Marketing Institute acquired the rights
to the SQF program in 2003 and established the SQF Institute (SQFI)
division to manage the program. Now in its sixth edition, SQF 2000 Code
is recognized by GFSI as meeting its benchmark requirements. It is the
only GFSI-recognized certification system that links primary production
certification to food manufacturing, distribution, and agent/broker
management certification.

The program provides independent certification that a supplier’s food
safety and quality management system complies with international and
domestic food safety regulations. This enables suppliers to help assure
their customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared, and
handled according to the highest possible standards, at all levels of
the supply chain.

Levels of certification

The SQF 2000 Code is divided into three certification levels: Level 1
covers food safety fundamentals; at Level 2, certified HACCP food safety
plans are recognized by GFSI; and at Level 3, comprehensive food safety
and quality management system actions exceed the GFSI benchmark

The SQF program has many unique features that help ensure trust and
consistency in the auditing process. Certification bodies that are
licensed by the SQFI to perform SQF audits are subject to regular
assessments of their certification and audit activities by
internationally recognized accreditation bodies licensed by SQFI.
Auditors are only permitted to perform audits in the food industry
sectors for which they have been registered, and in which they have
extensive expertise and experience.

ISO 22000

ISO 22000–”Food safety management systems–Requirements for any
organization in the food chain” specifies the requirements for a
food-safety management system that combines the following generally
recognized key elements to ensure food safety along the food chain, up
to the point of final consumption: interactive communication, system
management, prerequisite programs, and HACCP principles.

The ISO 22000 standard delivers a common global framework of safety
requirements for all organizations in the food supply chain, including
crop production, processing, distribution, and related operations. It is
an international standard that harmonizes various existing national and
industry certification schemes.

ISO 22000 incorporates all seven of the contemporary HACCP principles
and implementation plans. Overall, ISO 22000 creates an effective
framework for food safety management, communication along the food
supply chain, and control of food safety hazards.

ISO 22000 is recognized by more than 157 stakeholder countries around
the world. Accredited audits are carried out by certification bodies in
accordance to ISO 22003–”Food safety management systems–Requirements
for bodies providing audit and certification of food safety management
systems.” Auditors must inspect as many product lines in the
manufacturing facility as possible, and prerequisites must be audited at
every site inspection. As per other ISO standards, the auditing cycle
takes three years, including a first-year, longer inspection and shorter
surveillance audits in the next two years.

Benefits of certification

So how does being certified to an accredited food safety standard
benefit your business? With specific safety and, in some cases, quality
requirements, and system requirements, each of the standards requires a
detailed third-party independent assessment (certification audit) that
is carried out on site at least once per year. The purpose of this audit
is to ensure that systems are in place, monitored, in use, and
effective. This independent measure is not used as a “snapshot” of
current conditions; rather, it evaluates the overall process and
mechanics of the operations, assessing the ability to function
day-to-day and in times of crises.

The requirements to be met to gain certification are rigorous and
well-defined in each standard. The requirement is such that all parts of
the standard being evaluated are met, and all nonconformances found
during an audit must be successfully corrected prior to the issuance of
certification status. In addition, as this is a live certification, any
recall is mandated to be reported to the certification body, so that
additional evaluation can be undertaken, if required.

Beyond the act of designing and enhancing your business to meet these
world-class standards, and beyond the annual audit process, the action
of becoming certified, and maintaining this certification, shows
diligence in maintaining the level of product and consumer safety at
world-class standards. A company that is part of our food chain should
be doing nothing less than aiming for the highest level of assurance in
this regard.

In the end, choosing which standard to utilize and be certified to is
the decision of the individual operation. The act of enhancing and
maintaining a top-level food safety program, and being certified, is
much more of a requirement than a choice in today’s marketplace.

Preventing recalls

All food safety standards provide the opportunity to thoroughly inspect
an organization’s systems for safely managing food. Through these
inspections, there are clear opportunities to head off food recalls and
maintain a healthy food marketplace.

More important, most standards contain clauses pertaining to the
management of incidents, product recalls, and product withdrawal. There
should be procedures in place to effectively manage incidents and
potential emergency situations that affect food safety, legality, or
quality. Companies are required to define what would constitute an
incident or emergency situation that would require proper reaction.

GS1 UPC Labeling System – Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) Guide

Who needs a UPC number?
If you sell products to a distributor or a retailer, those products may need a UPC bar code that represents a “Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). All retailers doing scanning of merchandise at the checkout counter will require you to bar code label any merchandise you want them to carry. Before you can label your merchandise, you must get a unique UCC Company Prefix from the single authority, the GS1 US (formerly the Uniform Code Council) that exclusively controls the assignment of numbers. When you get a number, you will also get a certificate from that body authenticating your number; most retailers will demand proof of the certificate to verify that your number is unique and authorized.

What if I just want to do a simple inventory?
If you do not plan to sell the products that you want to bar code to retailers for resale, and you simply want them bar coded for internal use (like inventory, or tracking) then you DO NOT need to get a number from the GS1 US. For this application, you can use any numbering system you like, and any bar code type you want. UPC bar codes are not required – you can use Code 39 or Code 128, (or any bar code type for that matter) which are much more flexible.

Now that I know I need a UCC Company prefix, where do I get it?
In order to get a UCC Company Prefix, you must apply for membership to the GS1 US (formerly the Uniform Code Council). There is a fee for membership and it is based upon the information you provide about your company on the on-line application. Two of the key factors that are considered are sales volume/revenue and numbering capacity needs. You can apply online, by phone, or by fax.

What is a UPC bar code?
If you buy products in a retail environment, then you are familiar with the bar codes you see on most products in any of your local retail stores. This is called a UPC-A code, is 12 digits long and looks something like this:

The UPC number itself is referred to as the GTIN – Global Trade Item Number. The GTIN is made up of your UCC Company Prefix and the number that you have assigned to that unique product.

The UCC Company Prefix is a 10, 9, 8, 7 or 6 digit number assigned to you by the Uniform Code Council. The number of digits is determined typically by how many products you will need to assign numbers to. If you have 50 products that require unique numbers, you would probably be assigned a 9 digit UCC Company Prefix (That leaves 2 digits to represent your items). In the bar code sample to the left, a 6 digit number, “012345” had been assigned. This number will represent the manufacturer on all of their products as well as in any EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) applications.

The second set of numbers are used to reference the specific product. It is called an “Item Reference Number“. This number is not assigned by the Uniform Code Council. This number is up to the manufacturer and is often assigned in a random manner. In the example bar code above, the Item Reference Number is “67890”. Depending on how many items you have requested numbering for, this Item Reference Number may be 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 digits long.

The last number is a check digit calculated from the previous 11 digits. It is not randomly assigned. Most bar code printing programs will calculate this check digit for you. The check digit for the example above is “5”.

Printing your own UPC Codes:
This is where BaxTek Solutions can help!

Public Health & Food Protection Information & Analysis : Environ Health Associates : Outbreaks : Food Safety and Environmental Health Blog

Tomato Woes

Tomatoes are once again implicated in a large and serious foodborne illness outbreak. To date CDC has identified hundreds of victims of Salmonella saintpaul, a somewhat unusual or rare serotype of Salmonella, and one death is suspected.

Investigators are hampered by lack of traceability amongst other problems. FDA reports that investigators are encountering boxes of tomatoes without labels. Such problems make it difficult to determine safe from unsafe sources, and force FDA to only issue general information about which tomatoes are likely safe. As a result, hundreds of millions of tomatoes must be destroyed and the US tomato industry has experienced huge financial losses. This is extremely troubling at a time when food scarcities are enveloping many of the world’s poorest nations.

Much of the blame for this tragic situation lies squarely with FDA’s non-existent and ineffective regulation of the produce industry. There are no laws specifically regulating how produce is grown, labled and handled. FDA has been providing guidance to the produce industry for at least 10 years but it is unknown if the industry is applying it since there are no regulatory inspections of produce safety. Florida and North Carolina are attempting to work with FDA on a state inspection program called the Tomato Initiative, but the work is very preliminary and will not be effective for years.

The produce industry is filling in the gaps by self-regulation whereby growers, packers and distributors are subject to industry mandated food safety audits conducted by third party firms. The weakness in this “buyer driven” safety model is that buyers, the middlemen between the retailer and the producer, make buying decision based primarily on price and quality and do not hold food safety as their first priority.

The consumer is now at the mercy of this ineffective food safety system and the produce industry is reeling from the financial effects. Lobbying by the associations representing the food industry since the mid 1990’s has kept regulatory agencies under financed and ineffective. Now that they need them, they are incapable of providing protection. It is indeed interesting to note these associations now have their own food safety schemesthat they sell to the industry as a fix for the very problem they helped create. Industry interference with regulatory efforts is to blame for the crisis state of FDA, and the produce industry is now reaping a bitter harvest of unsafe foods.

Clearly the answers to unsafe foods must be found in Washington. However, with the distractions of war, inflated fuel prices and a sluggish economy (mostly caused by unregulated profiteering in the housing market) Washington is ill prepared to mount an effective food safety policy and to fix America’s neglected public health infrastructure.

Consumers are losing confidence in supermarket produce and are turning to local farmers for a better quality and presumably safer product. Supermarkets will continue to suffer as consumers spend their food dollar elsewhere. Self seeking food industry leaders must blame only themselves for their tomato woes.

Foodborne Illness & Health Inspection Information & Analysis : Environ Health Associates : Farm to Fork : Food Safety and Environmental Health Blog

Pig to Human H1N1

There has been speculation about the transmission of the swine flu virus, better known as H1N1 virus, from pigs to humans during animal raising or processing and the feeling now is NO according to WHO. USDA has not issued any kind of advisory about this potential when working with pigs and this novel strain is unlikely to be transmitted this way. With that said, with pigs in Canada recently identified as infected with H1N1 it would be a possibility that if pigs were infected the virus could contaminate the meat and thus provide a means of human infection. Handling could expose workers in that event, but normal cooking would make the meat safe for the consumer. Also, this Canada event seems to be an anomaly as the pig was likely infected by a human carrying H1N1 and not the other way.

At this moment it does not appear that H1N1 is moving at all through the pig population. Person to person spread is the real threat at this time. Culling herds such as in Egypt was not well-advised given that we have very scanty info that pig to human infection poses much of a risk, or any risk at all. Of course we do not know for sure what the future holds, but for now the risk is very low or non- existent for workers to become infected when in contact with pigs or from the pork supply in general. It does need close watching, however.

A guide to field mobility

A guide to field mobility
Empowering your field workforce today for a more
successful and profitable enterprise tomorrow
Enterprises all over the world have discovered the value of field mobility. With a mobile computer in hand
that provides a real-time voice and data connection to the business, field sales and field service workers
are more efficient and effective, enabling enterprises to maximize the value/utilization of the field
workforce. In this informative guide, we will take a look at:
Why mobility has become a best practice out in the field
How the lack of mobility will impact the health of your business — and your ability to compete
Case studies that showcase the power of mobility in action

Your field workers are responsible for the single-most important
interface in your enterprise — the daily interaction with your
customers. Whether your workers are involved in sales, service,
inspections or asset tracking, the efficiency and effectiveness of
this workforce can have a tremendous impact on the health of
your business. The level of service that these workers deliver
will drive your sales and customer retention levels up — or down.
And the productivity levels of these workers will drive your costs
up — or down.
Regardless of your industry, when workers in the field lack
access to the voice and data networks in the office, the effect
can be crippling. Without a real-time connection to back end
business applications, workers must utilize paper forms to collect
information for a wide variety of transactions — and then later
enter the information on those forms into the computer upon
return to the office. As a result, time is inserted into your business
processes — lag times that reduce service levels, employee
productivity, cash flow and overall profitability. The need to touch
the data twice increases the opportunity for costly errors that
again impact business efficiency. In addition, field workers are
forced to phone the office for simple information requests — such
as pricing, inventory and invoice information, directions and more —
again adding time and cost into your business processes. And if
cell phones are utilized to provide a voice connection out in the
field, field workers have two phone numbers and two voicemail
boxes to manage — and the enterprise must purchase and
manage more mobile devices.
And finally, without real-time visibility, managing this remote
workforce is a challenge. In order to ensure efficient routing
to increase worker productivity and minimize vehicle costs,
you need to know where your workers are and what they are
doing at any point in time. Without a real-time connection to the
field workforce, management lacks the information needed to
maximize the utilization of two of your most expensive assets —
your workforce and your vehicle fleet.
The challenge:
The high price of a disconnected field workforce
Without a real-time connection to the field workforce, management
lacks the information needed to maximize the utilization of two of your
most expensive assets — your workforce and your vehicle fleet.
The solution:
The real-time field workforce
To address these issues, you need to eliminate the
gap between the voice and data networks in the office
and your workers out in the field. Imagine if you could
empower your field workforce with a single easy-touse
rugged handheld tool that would provide all the
functionality available in the office. Imagine the
productivity gains if your field workforce could
completely eliminate the paper trail from present-day
business processes. Imagine the improvement in
service levels if all the information in your business
systems as well as co-workers, supervisors, customers
and more were accessible with just the press of a few
keys, anytime and anywhere. Imagine the increase in
revenues if your field workforce could process orders
and payments at the press of a button. Imagine how
a real-time window into actual sales could reduce
carrying costs for raw materials and finished goods.
You have just imagined the power of field mobility.
In today’s economy, every second of wasted
time translates into slower service and higher
costs…which translate into reduced customer
satisfaction and profitability. Mobility addresses all
of these issues by stripping time and errors out of
your business processes, providing a competitive
advantage by enabling new levels of customer
service — and overall cost-efficiency.
And since chances are your competitors have
already or are in the process of deploying a field
mobility solution today, can you afford the high cost
of a disconnected field workforce?
Top 3 reasons to ‘go mobile’
With competition at an all-time high, it is mobility
that is consistently helping companies to address
three of the top initiatives in virtually every business:
Increase revenue
Regardless of whether your field workers are
involved in sales, service or inspections, mobility can
help you increase revenue. Your sales force will have
the tools required to close the sale right on the spot
— including the ability to instantly reserve inventory
to fulfill the order and provide the delivery date for
the customer. Mobility transforms the field service
workforce — typically a cost center — into a profit
center by ensuring the accurate capture of all billable
time and materials on site, as well as providing
service technicians with an appropriate list of items
to cross-sell. And the ability to auto-populate forms
and provide drop down and check boxes improves
efficiency and eliminates errors for a wide variety
of inspections — from rental cars and construction
to restaurants and foster homes — as well as the
citation process.
Reduce costs
Mobility reduces costs that are directly associated
with your field workforce — and throughout your
operations. Efficiency improvements enable the
same workforce to visit more prospective and
existing customers per day, reducing staffing and
vehicle requirements — and the associated capital
and operational costs. Real-time visibility into sales
orders enables just-in-time manufacturing and
inventory management as well as a reduction in
stocking inventory levels — and warehouse space
requirements. Real-time visibility into upcoming
service calls ensures that the right parts and tools
are loaded onto the truck, eliminating the need for
costly return trips to the office to complete a job.
And real-time visibility into delivery and service
routes via integrated GPS enables more efficient
vehicle utilization, reducing mileage, fuel costs and
vehicle wear and tear.
Enable cost-effective compliance
No matter what type of assets you need to track,
and whether you need to comply with government
regulations or business directives, mobility can
heavily automate data collection in the ‘last mile’
of the supply chain, substantially reducing the cost
of compliance. Bar code scanning enables rapid
and accurate inventorying of assets to ensure proper
depreciation, preventing under and over-payment
of taxes. Pharmaceutical sales representatives can
scan prescription medication samples to instantly,
accurately and automatically capture required data
— instead of painstakingly writing down medication
name, packaging type and serial number.
The impact of mobility in field service
And with just a few seconds of effort, drivers can
scan product as it is delivered, enabling:
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) and food
and beverage (F&B) industries to comply with
traceability requirements for consumable items

Pharmaceutical manufacturers to identify and
prevent the delivery of counterfeit product,
protecting consumer safety
Manufacturers of a wide variety of retail-facing
products to spot and remove imitation product —
protecting brand equity and profitability

Call customers to confirm
appointments, site access and
the arrival of pre-shipped parts
Access cross-selling and up-selling
information, helping transform a
non-sales function into a revenue
generating division
Access up-to-the-minute real-time directions
via GPS to ensure prompt arrival at the
next stop — in spite of a traffic jam
Enable one-number reach by extending
the deskphone and all functionality to the
handheld mobile device
Provide an on-the-spot invoice or receipt,
either sent electronically via email or
physically printed with the addition of a
mobile printer
With a real-time voice and data
connection, field service dispatch can:
Better plan daily routes to minimize
mileage, fuel costs and wear-and-tear
on trucks
Enable highly efficient dynamic routing
of new urgent work orders through the
automatic identification of the closest
technician with the right skillset, tools
and parts (via GPS)
Correct adverse driving behavior that
could endanger others, increase fuel
costs and vehicle wear and tear
(via Telematics)
Monitor engine codes to ensure timely
maintenance to prevent the high cost of
vehicle downtime (via Telematics)

With a real-time voice and data
connection, field service workers can:
Dynamically receive, accept and close out
electronic work orders — instead of paper
Access complete customer repair history
for faster and better issue resolution
Access detailed equipment information,
step-by-step maintenance routines
and repair procedures, eliminating
the need to carry product manuals and
user guides and ensuring service is
performed properly
Access warranty and service level
agreements to ensure the accurate
capture of billable hours and parts
Capture and transmit electronic
signatures to validate proof of service
and expedite billing
Process credit and debit cards for
on-the-spot payment of services to
reduce days-sales-outstanding (DSO)
Scan bar codes on parts and tools in the
truck for real-time inventory visibility
Snap a high-resolution color photo for proof
of condition or proof of service, complete
with a geostamp for proof of location
Automatically capture on-the-job start
and stop times for accurate labor costing
and payroll
Scan parts as they are utilized to ensure
the capture of all appropriate charges

Field benefits:
Increase workforce utilization — the
same number of workers can now make
more customer visits per day
Improve customer service, satisfaction
and loyalty levels
Improve data accuracy
Increase revenue through the accurate
capture of labor and parts as well as
cross- and up-selling
Improve vehicle utilization
Better plan daily routes and reduce truck
rolls — minimizing mileage, fuel costs
and wear-and-tear on vehicles
Enterprise benefits:
Reduce the order-to-cash cycle time,
substantially improving cash flow
Reduce parts and tools inventory
Reduce capital and operational costs by
replacing multiple devices with a single
easy to carry and easy to manage device
Improve workforce management
with visibility into the dispatch queue,
performance metrics for the department
and individual workers, real-time proof of
service and customer-facing issues
Reduce accounting and administrative
staffing requirements — the elimination
of paper in the field substantially
reduces the associated data entry and
administrative requirements

Top 3 reasons you can’t afford
not to ‘go mobile’
Just as there are three top reasons companies
are embracing mobility, there are also three major
reasons you can’t afford to bypass the deployment
of mobility. Manual paper-laden processes out in the
field will impact your ability to:
Maintain a competitive edge
Competition has never been tighter in today’s
business world — due to market globalization,
customers can literally choose from a world of
vendors. Mobility can protect your existing customer
base as well as ensure continual growth of that
base by enabling the delivery of consistent and
differentiating customer service — regardless of
whether your workers are involved in sales or repair
of equipment. In addition, with the advantages of
mobility in field operations well recognized, mobility
is rapidly becoming a competitive baseline —
chances are your competition may already be in the
process of ‘mobilizing’ their field workforce, making
mobility a requirement simply to remain competitive
in the near future.
Maximize productivity
Without mobility, manual paper-based processes
will strip productivity right out of your workforce. By
automating the many aspects of your field business
processes, mobility effectively becomes a field
force multiplier — despite additional data collection
requirements due to new government regulations.
Now, the same sales force can close more sales
in less time, the same number of technicians can
service more customers per day and the same
number of inspectors can complete more tasks in a
given day. And the resulting increase in productivity
provides the time required to help meet or exceed
customer expectations.
Protect profitability
Without mobility, information moves more
slowly throughout your supply chain, impacting
staffing costs, inventory carrying costs, warehousing
costs, the order-to-cash cycle times and more —
further reducing ever-shrinking margins. Field
mobility allows information to flow in real-time
throughout and between your many divisions,
increasing the velocity of your entire supply chain —
and delivering benefits that reach beyond your field
operations into the enterprise. The utilization of two
of your most expensive assets is improved — your
With a real-time voice and data
connection, field sales workers can:
Receive electronic sales leads in real-time
Access inventory and pricing systems to
enable the creation of real-time bids
Place and process orders in real time,
complete with solid delivery dates
Capture signatures for real-time
authorization of sales orders
Process credit and debit cards to enable
on-the-spot payment
Access comprehensive customer
intelligence — including past and open
orders, past and open service records,
email address and phone number,
birthday, buying preferences and more —
strengthening the 1-to-1 relationship as
well as uncovering cross-selling and
up-selling opportunities
Scan product as it is delivered to
automate track and trace in the
last mile for consumable items and
pharmaceutical samples
Provide an on-the-spot invoice or receipt,
either electronically via email or physically
printed with the addition of a mobile printer

Enable one-number reach by extending
the deskphone and all functionality to the
handheld mobile device
Access up-to-the-minute real-time
directions via GPS to ensure prompt
arrival at the next stop — in spite of a
traffic jam
With a real-time voice and data connection,
field sales/DSD dispatch can:
Better plan daily routes to minimize mileage,
fuel costs and wear-and-tear on trucks
Correct adverse driving behavior that
could endanger others, increase fuel
costs and vehicle wear and tear
Monitor engine codes to ensure timely
maintenance to prevent the high cost of
vehicle downtime
Field benefits:
Improve customer response times —
and service levels
Increase sales
Improve productivity — the same sales
force can make more sales calls per day

Improve lead generation management
with up-to-the-minute accurate information
Improve data integrity
Strengthen customer relationships
Enterprise benefits:
Improve sales forecasting accuracy
Reduce order-to-cash cycle times,
improving cash flow
Improve inventory management
Improve production management
Improve workforce management with
visibility into performance metrics for
the department and individual workers
as well as real-time visibility into the
sales forecast
Reduce capital and operational costs by
replacing multiple devices with a single
easy to carry and easy to manage device
Cost-effective ‘last mile’ traceability reduces
the cost of regulatory compliance and
protects your brand

The impact of mobility in field sales
field employees and your vehicle fleet. Instant
visibility into the sales funnel reduces inventory
carrying and warehousing costs, while increasing
inventory turns. The ability to process payments
on the spot and provide real-time proof of service
reduces billing cycles — decreasing days sales
outstanding. And with rugged business-class devices
that can be easily integrated into your existing
technology architecture and remotely managed, you
enjoy a field mobility solution with a substantially
low total cost of ownership (TCO). The result is an
effective net reduction in the cost of doing business,
improving margins — and overall profitability.
Print on-the-spot warnings and citations
for code violations
Process on-the-spot payment for code
violation citations
Enable employee tracking through realtime
locationing systems (RTLS)
Access up-to-the-minute real-time
directions via GPS to ensure prompt
arrival at the next stop — in spite of a
traffic jam
Field benefits:
Improve productivity — the same
number of workers can execute more
inspections per day
Enable cost-effective and granular asset
lifecycle tracking — from servers to utility
poles, streets, pipelines, leased vehicles,
guest room door locks in a hotel and more
Improve customer service by reducing
wait times for construction inspections,
vehicle inspections and more
Better plan daily routes to minimize mileage,
fuel costs and wear-and-tear on vehicles

With a real-time voice and data
connection, field workers can:
Receive, accept and close out electronic
work orders — instead of paper
Capture the bar code, Direct Part Mark
(DPM) or RFID tag information to heavily
automate asset tracking
Snap a high-resolution color photo for
proof of asset condition
Utilize mobile forms with drop down
menus and check boxes to ensure proper
and complete execution of every step in
an inspection — and reduce training time
Capture a signature for proof of
receipt of inspection reports, code
warnings or citations
Add a geostamp to a photo to include
proof of location
Schedule required asset maintenance
in real time
Enable highly efficient dynamic routing
of new urgent work orders through the
automatic identification of the inspector
that is nearest the asset (via GPS)

Enable highly efficient dynamic routing
of new urgent work orders through
the automatic identification of the
closest inspector
Improve data integrity
Enterprise benefits:
Enable more cost-effective Sarbanes-
Oxley compliance
Improve visibility into inspection status
for more proactive and predictive
scheduling of maintenance to improve
asset uptime, condition and lifecycle
Improve employee safety with real-time
location visibility — for example in
expansive oil refineries
Increase financial return on assets with
real-time visibility into location and status

The impact of mobility in inspections
and asset tracking
Mobility: a best practice for field
workers…and the enterprise
Mobility has rapidly become a best practice in the
field workforce — many of the world’s largest
(and even smallest) companies have already
deployed field mobility solutions and are enjoying
substantial and quantifiable benefits felt not only
in field operations, but also throughout the entire
business. The field workforce is more productive
and informed — helping control staffing costs
while improving customer service levels. And other
business functions that are tangential to your field
service operations are also improved — from sales
forecasting and inventory management to
production and accounting.
In addition to a rapid return on investment, field
mobility solutions also offer a low total cost of
ownership. The ability to provide a single device
for voice and data instead of providing workers
with a cell phone, notebook computer and more
substantially reduces capital and operational costs —
there are simply fewer devices to purchase and
manage. Designed for all day use outside the
The benefits of field mobility
reach throughout your operations,
improving the productivity of your
field workforce as well as many
other operational functions — from
sales forecasting and inventory
management to production
and accounting.
enterprise walls, Motorola’s rugged integrated
voice and data mobile computers deliver a total
cost of ownership that is nearly 50 percent lower
than consumer-grade equivalents.1 And industry
standard platforms and centralized management
tools enable easy and cost-effective integration into
your technology environment — and day-to-day
And finally, field mobility solutions help enterprises
to become more ‘green’ — a global environmental
initiative — by practically eliminating the use of paper
throughout field operations.
For more information on how you can put the power of
Motorola enterprise mobility solutions to work in your field
operations, contact your local Motorola salesperson or visit
Case Studies:
Field mobility solutions in action
The following six real customer case studies demonstrate the
value of mobility in field service and field sales organizations:
Nestle Malaysia
Food & Beverage/Field sales
Danka Business Systems
Equipment repair/Field service
Blue Bell Creameries
Food & Beverage/DSD

Schumate Mechanical
Equipment installation and repair/
Field service
Waste management/Field service
Telecom provider/Field service

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom
line. Driving efficiency up and costs down,
while enabling faster decision making are key
priorities for the business. By tightly integrating
Motorola’s mobility solution and services with
our chosen sales force automation software
and back office operations, we now have an
end to end solution that has a direct impact on
our success as a company.”
Patrick Goh, Sales Project Manager,
Nestlé (Malaysia)
Nestle Malaysia
Headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, Nestle is
the world’s largest food company, employing over
250,000 workers in over 500 factories and offices in
80 countries around the world.
The business problem:
Nestle’s Malaysia sales teams are responsible for a wide
variety of activities during daily visits to customers — from
market surveys and asset tracking to merchandiser audits and
gathering customer and market intelligence. The heavy use
of pen and paper for these tasks created a number of issues.
The time consuming error-prone processes resulted in low
productivity and data errors. And due to the inability to access
information during a sales visit, sales representatives were
unable to answer even basic customer questions — from
available stock to product information, order status and current
product pricing.
The solution:
A field mobility solution built on Motorola’s PPT8800 and MC50
Enterprise Digital Assistants was initially rolled out to over 71
distributors and 600 field force workers in Nestle Malaysia
and Singapore. Initially, over 90,000 outlets were covered. The
customizable easy-to-manage field mobility solution provided
sales representative, sales supervisors, distributors and
merchandisers with real-time access to people and business
essential applications out in the field:
Sales transactions are now posted in real time
Bar code scanning enables the easy and accurate capture
of a wide variety of data, from customer information to
product details
The sales force now has true anywhere-anytime access
to real-time inventory, sales history, order status and
product pricing
Mobile printing allows on-the-spot printing of sales receipts
The benefits:
Increased efficiency and productivity in the sales force
Reduced costs
Improved customer service
Improved data accuracy
Better decision making

Field sales: Food & Beverage
Having a distributed workforce makes
communications a challenge. Technicians will
not adopt something that is counter-intuitive and
does not meet their day-to-day requirements.
With the MC70, they started right away taking
service calls, doing all their parts operations and
within a week, it became second nature – and a
part of their day. The MC70 from Motorola has
really changed the way Danka does business.
Michael Calcinari, Vice President,
Service Planning & Support,
Danka Office Imaging
Field service: Equipment repair
Danka Business Systems
Service Provider
A leading provider of document information services,
Danka provides a loyal customer base with the
benefits of today’s digital imaging technology. With
over 100,000 print and copy machines out in the
field, Danka provides the routine and emergency
maintenance required to keep these mission critical
machines up and running.
The business problem:
Heavily paper-based business processes reduced technician
productivity. The company sought to provide technicians with
faster access to more information to free service technicians
to spend more time taking care of customers and servicing
equipment — and less time pushing paper.
The solution:
A field mobility solution based on Motorola’s MC70 Enterprise
Digital Assistant was rolled out to 1,000 technicians in just
three months. Danka’s technicians now have everything they
need to do the best job, right at their fingertips. The new
paperless system allows technicians to:
Receive electronic work orders
Access real-time parts inventory on the truck — and back
in the central warehouse
Locate and order a part needed from the central warehouse
in real-time for delivery to an upcoming stop that same day —
with just the press of a few buttons
Access service history, improving on-the-job knowledge
and troubleshooting
Capture signature for ‘proof of service’ and invoicing
Automatically capture of arrival and departure times
Call customers to confirm estimated arrival times
Work offline — no disruptions when a customer is
located out of range, or building construction creates
connectivity issues
The benefits:
Increased technician productivity — time for a minimum
of one additional service call per day
Improved customer service
Improved data accuracy
Reduced calls from the field for assistance with more
complex transactions by 60 percent — technicians can now
access most of the information with the Motorola MC70

Blue Bell Creameries
Started in 1907, Blue Bell Creameries started out
delivering ice cream by horse and wagon. Now, over
a hundred years later, Blue Bell Creameries is one of
the top three best selling ice creams in the country,
delivering over 50 flavors to 17 states.
DSD/Field sales: Food & Beverage
the velocity of the invoicing process. To address these issues,
Blue Bell was looking for a way to improve the overall efficiency
of the delivery process as well as enable real-time end-to-end
traceability — from raw materials to delivery.
The solution:
Blue Bell deployed Motorola mobile computers in the
warehouse and in the delivery trucks to enable the real-time
capture and transmission of the wealth of business data
required to streamline and provide real-time visibility into the
entire supply chain — from Blue Bell’s receiving dock to the
customer . In the warehouse, Motorola’s MC9090 mobile
computers connect to a Motorola wireless LAN (Motorola’s
WS5100 wireless switches and AP300 access points), enabling
warehouse workers to enter incoming shipments of raw
materials into the inventory system as they are processed
at the receiving dock. Out in the trucks, Motorola’s MC70
Enterprise Digital Assistant enables real time capture in the
company’s Direct Store Delivery function. Drivers are armed
with a palm-sized full fledge integrated voice and data computer
with a real time connection to key business applications as
well as telephone, text messaging and bar code scanning
capabilities. With the MC70 in hand, drivers can now:
Instantly see inventory in the truck in real time
Scan shipments at each stop for accurate and rapid
recording of deliveries
Present customers with an accurate electronic invoice
on the spot
Capture customer signatures to verify proof of delivery
and invoice accuracy
Instantly transmit invoices in real time to the
business system
The benefits:
Increased productivity
Improved customer service
Real-time inventory visibility and end-to-end
real-time track and trace
Improved cash flow

The Motorola system has increased
efficiencies across operations, from its
receipt of raw materials and its production
processes to its delivery of the final product
to the customer. “Now, within minutes you
can go into our computer system and trace it
backward and forward.”
Jim Kruse, CPA and Controller
Blue Bell Creameries
The business problem:
Like most manufacturers in the food and beverage
business, Blue Bell Creameries is dependent upon
their direct store delivery function to deliver product to
customers. But the outdated solution translated into
the slow movement of information to and from drivers,
which impacted route efficiency, inventory visibility and
Shumate Mechanical
Service Provider
Shumate Mechanical provides heating, ventilating
and air conditioning (HVAC) services to residential,
commercial and industrial customers in the greater
Atlanta, Georgia, USA region. The company employs
500 employees, and has 200 vehicles out on the road
servicing customers every day.
The business problem:
Service technicians in the field utilized paper forms
to capture information and perform transactions out
in the field. But the paper-and-pen based processes
could not keep pace with this rapidly growing
business — the flow of information was too slow
and inconsistent, affecting dispatch efficiency. The
company was looking for a paperless solution to
improve productivity and accuracy throughout field
The solution:
The company provided service technicians with a
Motorola MC70 Enterprise Digital Assistant and a
mobile printer, providing technicians out on the road
with the equivalent of a ‘pocketable office’ — and a
host of new capabilities:
Automated location-based dispatch — work orders
are sent electronically to the handhelds
Rapid completion of forms via speech-to-text as
well as keypad input

Access to the full range of information required to get the
job done as efficiently and effectively as possible —
including service history, inventory access, contracts, wiring
diagrams and more
Ability to complete, email or print invoices out in the field
Ability to process credit and debit cards out in the field for
real-time payment processing
On-board navigation for real-time directions, ensuring
prompt arrival at the next service location
The benefits:
With mobility in 40 vehicles returning a wealth of
benefits, a rollout to all remaining vehicles is now
underway. Benefits include:
Substantial 12 percent reduction (based on saving one hour
per technician per day) in labor save $208,000/year
Increased customer satisfaction and retention
Improved competitive advantage — ability to book next day
service appointments
Improved productivity for accounting staff – re-purposed
2 full time data entry operators
Inventory variance reduced from $4,000/month to zero
Real-time GPS eliminated the $10,000 budget previously
spent on maps
Substantial fuel savings anticipated from more
efficient routing
Improved service consistency through the ability to
present a comprehensive checklist for installation and
maintenance routines
Expedited cash flow
Improved workforce management — better visibility
into a variety of metrics enabled the development
of Key Performance Indicators to manage the field
service workforce

Field service: Equipment installation/repair
Service provider
Sodicome specializes in the collection and treatment
of medical, electronic and electrical waste for over
12,000 customers in 70 counties, with 13 drivers
making a total of 8,000 monthly collections.
The business problem:
Numerous government regulations required Sodicom
to maintain a specific set of information to document
the handling and disposal of medical, electronic and
electrical waste. A quadruplicate paper form was
utilized to capture the required data to document
the end-to-end waste processing: one copy was
provided to the originator upon collection of the
waste; one copy was kept by the driver; one part was for the
waste disposal company; and the last form was returned to
the customer to provide proof of disposal of the waste. The
inefficient process increased paperwork, reducing productivity
and increasing the risk of errors. In addition, the paper records
— 140,000 sheets of
paper per year — had to be maintained for three years, and
then destroyed.
The solution:
A Motorola MC70 Enterprise Digital Assistant in combination
with Zebra mobile printers replaced the paper-based process.
Now, electronic orders are sent directly to the driver’s MC70, and
instead of processing a quadruplicate paper form, drivers now:
Scan all packages at pickup to automatically and accurately
populate an electronic version of the paper form with
required information
Print a collection receipt right on the spot, providing realtime
proof of pickup
Print proof of delivery receipt for customers
Automatically upload all information at the end of the
workday — no additional end-of-day processing required
The benefits:
Guarantees traceability of all waste, providing
customers with increased security and reliability
Improves driver productivity — elimination of
paperwork during and after rounds enables the same
staff to handle more jobs per day, reducing the rate of
uncollected pickups from 4.5% to 1%
Reduces errors — data entry errors were
completely eliminated
Enables more efficient route planning
Provides customers with a real-time window into
pickup schedules
Eliminates the high cost of archiving and destroying
the massive amount of paperwork

Field service: Waste management
We have identified three main advantages
for our customers. Firstly, our customers
no longer need to archive paper documents.
Secondly, it saves time for the customer.
And thirdly, it guarantees waste traceability.
Philippe Roulle, Managing Director – ISD
Service Provider
Employing approximately 20,000 people, Swisscom
is the largest telecommunications provider in
Switzerland, serving homes and businesses across
the country.
The business problem:
Over 900 service engineers in four different business
sections received work schedules for the day and reported
work order status via different types of technologies. For
example, the fulfillment section utilized paper, receiving work
orders via fax. Alternatively, the assurance section utilized
company laptops to retrieve electronic work schedules. The
disparate systems hindered dispatcher ability to easily schedule
and coordinate across the work teams. And dispatch could not
send updated work schedules to field engineers who utilized
paper-based systems, hindering the company’s ability to
respond to urgent requests.
The solution:
With the new field mobility solution based on Motorola’s
MC70 Enterprise Digital Assistant:
Field engineers receive real-time work orders
Dispatchers can update work orders as needed to
address priorities
Any known information about the problem is also
transmitted to the engineer, eliminating the need for
engineers to repeat tests that were already conducted by
the in-house technical customer support center
Engineers now stamp each electronic work order with the
start and finish times for each job, which is then transmitted
back to dispatch upon completion of the service
The benefits:
10% improvement in engineer productivity by
eliminating paper
20% improvement in dispatch productivity via
automated route planning
Better field force management — real-time visibility
into engineer work schedules and job status enables
dynamic re-allocation and/or reprioritization of work orders
as needed throughout the day

Field service: Telecom
“The new enterprise digital assistants have really
helped us to update our scheduling and dispatch
procedure,” continued Basler. “The engineers
found the mobile computers very easy to use,
and the device can handle the knocks and bumps
of a day on the road with our engineers. We also
now have much more information about where
our engineers are, which job they are working
on, and can provide them with much more
information about the job in question, improving
efficiency and productivity and, as a net result,
our customer relations.”
Urs Basler,
Senior Project Manager
The anatomy of a field mobility solution
When it comes to enterprise mobility, look to Motorola for the unmatched portfolio of award-winning marketleading
products and services you need to deploy highly successful field mobility solutions that integrate easily
into your existing technology architecture — and your existing business procedures:
Integrated voice and data handheld mobile computers
Motorola’s family of integrated voice and data handheld mobile computers
offers essential features to fully maximize your workforce and the
rugged design required to achieve a low total cost of ownership (TCO).
Comprehensive wireless WAN options include your choice of cellular carrier
— as well as robust 3G network connectivity. Wireless LAN connectivity
enables cost effective communications in the office and in hot spots.
Integrated GPS enables real-time location-based applications. Bar code
scanning, RFID, signature capture and more combine with a broad variety of
accessories and third party peripherals — from mobile payment card readers
to mobile printers — to enable the automatic capture of virtually any type of
data and the completion of nearly any transaction out in the field.
Vehicle-mounted computers
Motorola’s VC6096 In-Vehicle/Fixed-Mount Mobile Computer packs all
the features you need to maximize operational efficiency out on the road
into a single easy to use rugged device truly built for life in the field. This
all-in-one in-cab solution provides your drivers with mobile voice and data
as well as integrated GPS and telematics, providing a comprehensive fleet
management platform that enables the collection of a wealth of real-time
data — including mileage, location, driver performance, vehicle metrics,
hours of service and arrival and departure times.
Two-way radios
Motorola’s two-way portable and mobile radio families provide reliable
and instant voice communications for your mobile work force — improving
the efficiency, productivity and safety of your workers. This diverse portfolio
offers: a variety of frequency ranges for operation anywhere in the world;
rugged models with enhanced features; compact and lightweight devices to
meet the needs of a wide variety of workers; and portable two-way radios
that are certified to intrinsic safety standards for use in hazardous classified
Bar code scanners
Motorola provides the industry’s most robust and innovative line-up of
Symbol scanner products — a portfolio that is unparalleled in breadth,
reliability, features and functionality. Choose from corded and cordless,
handheld and hands-free, and general purpose and rugged models that offer
a wide variety of scanning capabilities — from laser scanners that offer high
performance scanning for 1D bar codes to imagers that enable the capture of
1D, 2D and direct part marks as well as documents and signatures.
Payment systems and Micro Kiosks™
Interactive payment systems help build customer loyalty and maximize
revenues while reducing payment and transaction-related costs. The
advanced hardware and software architecture delivers the speed and
performance required for rapid data transmission, with a wide variety of
display and interactive capabilities.
OEM scan engines
With millions installed worldwide, Symbol scan engines from Motorola are
unmatched for reliability, performance, durability and size. These compact
ready-to-scan devices are ideal for deployment in space constrained areas
such as conveyors or checkout stands, or for integration into a wide variety
of devices, from kiosks and medical instruments to ATM and vending
machines and more.
Wireless infrastructure
Motorola’s comprehensive portfolio of wireless LAN and wireless broadband
infrastructure delivers world-class performance, security and resilience,
regardless of whether you need connectivity inside or outside the four walls
of your facility.
RFID infrastructure
A leader in the world of RFID technology, Motorola offers thirty years of
innovative excellence in the Automated Identification Data Collection (AIDC)
industry. A member of EPCglobal, Motorola has also been a key contributor
in the development of RFID standards, helping to provide the interoperability
required to simplify deployment and integration of RFID technology in the
enterprise. Our complete portfolio of products includes fixed, handheld and
mobile RFID readers, antennas, inlays and tags, allowing you to extend the
reach of RFID to every corner of your business.
Comprehensive mobility management solutions
The Motorola Mobility Suite delivers a true value-add for enterprise mobility
solutions. This unique family of software solutions empowers companies
to maximize the benefits and value of mobility by providing granular control
over every aspect of your mobility solution — including the ability to
remotely stage, provision, monitor and troubleshoot all your Motorola mobile
devices from a single centralized location.
End-to-end lifecycle services
Our lifecycle services are available to help you get and keep your Motorola
mobility solution up and running at peak performance. When it comes to
planning, designing, implementing your solution, our Advanced Services
offer ‘from the manufacturer’ product expertise and a wealth of vertical
experience gained from deploying millions of devices across industries
around the world. And once your solution has been deployed, our Customer
Services provide the day-to-day technical support you need to maximize uptime.
Part number BRO-FLDMOB. Printed in USA 02/09. MOTOROLA and the Stylized M Logo are registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office. All other product or service names
are the property of their respective owners. ©2009 Motorola, Inc. All rights reserved. For system, product or services availability and specific information within your country,
please contact your local Motorola office or Business Partner. Specifications are subject to change without notice.
Total Cost of Ownership Models for Mobile Computing and Communications Platforms, Second Edition, Venture
Development Corporation, June 2007 (Exhibit Vb-2: TCO Comparison (Five Year and Annual) for PDA/Handheld
Computers: Field Service Environments)

Field Mobility: The Great Equalizer

Real-time mobile field service solutions help level the customer service playing field for small to mid-size organizations.

In terms of fast and accurate customer service in the field, there’s one thing that most tellingly separates the small guys from the big guys: paper. For smaller companies, perhaps the biggest obstacle to better customer service and competing with the big guys is the ability to increase productivity and streamline cash flow. It’s a big challenge when your processes are largely manual. Today’s mobile technology enables the real-time, secure exchange of information between your business systems, your field teams and your customer. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that by automating manual processes through mobile devices, companies are shredding the paper issue once and for all.
Old Pressures, New Urgency

Today’s troubled economic climate is confronting the service industry with a number of serious business pressures. “The truth is, these challenges are neither new nor unforeseen,” says John Pomerleau, director Industry Solutions Group, Field Mobility at Motorola. For the most part, they involve issues that field service businesses have been facing for some time now. “What’s changed,” continues Pomerleau, “is the urgency with which service businesses — especially local and regional businesses — must respond to and solve them.” As the economic downturn drains profitability from virtually every service business, a premium is placed on the organization’s ability to cut costs while improving service and customer relationships.

What are some of these pressures? One is having fewer people. Many service companies are being forced to cut costs through workforce reductions and now have fewer technicians to serve their customer base. Not surprisingly, another challenge is strengthening customer relationships at a time when customer expectations are ever on the rise. And as labor, materials, fuel and other costs continue to rise, how do the big guys, not to mention the small guys, ever expect to reduce their overall operational costs and maintain profitability? Then there’s the ultimate challenge—cash flow. “Field service organizations are focused on compressing the repair cycle,” Pomerleau adds. “They are trying to reduce the time it takes to close out a ticket, invoice the customer and ultimately receive payment for services rendered.”
Customer Expectations

Whether you’re providing equipment or building repairs, servicing HVAC operations or delivering pizzas, customers are more demanding than ever. First of all, they want to have their call acknowledged right away, and they don’t want to just chit-chat. They want answers. They want to know the process. They want a time line. When will it be delivered? When will the repair technician be here? And why can’t it be sooner? “Second, they want the service to be at their convenience, not yours,” Pomerleau says. “The days of ‘we’ll be there between 12 and 5’ are fast disappearing.” The customer won’t be home in the morning, so the call has to be after noon, but they have to leave at two, so could you please make that between 12:00 and 12:30, thank you very much.

In terms of the service itself, customers expect it to be fast and efficient… so they won’t be wracking up extra charges as the clock ticks away. They expect the technician to have the right parts and the right equipment and the right capabilities to take care of the problem the first time out. Long-term customers also want the technician to have access to their own account information, including details on their service plans, warrantees and service history to make sure they are billed appropriately — while at the same time, the company also needs to ensure the capture of all billable charges. In short, in order to survive and prosper, field service organizations must be able to do more with less. That’s a tall order, but, as Pomerleau notes, “it’s not only possible to accomplish, it’s relatively simple to accomplish.”
Caught in the Paper Chase

Manual, paper-based processes are perhaps the biggest obstacle to field service efficiency and productivity. Even relatively small service companies can process half a million or more paper-based transactions every year. The sheer effort to handle so much paper is difficult, time consuming and costly. But that’s only half the problem. When technicians have to write everything down on paper, mistakes are made. Accuracy and productivity suffer. Deciphering handwriting is always a challenge and time and efficiency are lost. Data entry is delayed, ticket close-outs are delayed and therefore payments are too. Worst of all, preventable mistakes are made, placing customer relationships in jeopardy. Furthermore, according to a recent survey, 9 out of 10 technicians get lost at least once per month adding up to higher fuel costs and lost service opportunities.

What‘s the answer? How do field service businesses disentangle themselves and their operations from paper-based inefficiencies and increase both technician productivity and customer service? The answer is a mobile field service solution enabled by powerful, enterprise-class mobile computers with wireless wide area network (WAN) and local area network (LAN) capabilities and integrated global positioning system (GPS), data capture and event debit/credit payment capabilities. Mobility has already proven its worth for large national and international service-based enterprises and is quickly delivering the same benefits for small to mid-size organizations. The question is: Can smaller companies afford to invest in mobility?
Mobility For All

The answer is more: “Can they afford not to?” “Historically,” Pomerleau explains, “the most significant barriers to smaller field services operations deploying mobile solutions have been cost-related.” In the past, only larger service organizations with 500 and more field personnel have been able to afford the price of entry to mobility, normally involving the purchase of a mobile platform and the development of custom applications. The cost of entry to mobility, however, is shrinking rapidly.

The economics of mobility have evolved into what the industry calls the “software-to-service” model. Today, companies with as few as 30 to 50 field technicians can utilize today’s mobile technology platforms and powerful off-the-shelf software solutions for a fraction of yesterday’s investment requirements. What they get is a powerful mobile service application that helps end the paper chase by providing reliable, secure mobile connectivity to every field technician and representative on efficient, easy-to-use, ruggedized mobile devices. (As many organizations have discovered, the use of laptop computers and two-way radios cannot come close to matching the functionality, efficiency or ease-of-use of today’s mobile enterprise-class handheld devices.) And with the convergence of voice and data on a single device, and new management and security software, companies can reduce costs, protect enterprise data and ensure productivity across the entire operation.
Mobility Changes Everything

Mobility is the great equalizer. Now even smaller companies can take advantage of the extraordinary service, CRM and ROI benefits of full mobility.

Access to Information. Field technicians now have instant access to a wealth of information from back room operations, allowing them to be prepared for virtually any customer service situation. On an enterprise-class mobile computer, field workers can call up the customer’s service agreement, account and service history. They can also view schematics of equipment to be repaired, with the ability to zoom in on specific components in great detail, helping them work faster and more effectively.

Real-Time Communication. Real-time always-on high-speed connectivity enables faster, more accurate dispatch operations, reducing response time and enhancing customer satisfaction. It also enables more efficient and more effective field force and asset tracking. Through GPS location functionality, management can tell exactly where each vehicle is at any given time. Is it in or outside the service area? Has it been parked in one spot too long? Might the technician be having a problem? Which vehicle is closest to an emergency call from an important customer?

Enhanced Data Capture. By capturing data electronically and transmitting it to operations in real-time, advanced bar code scanning functionalities can dramatically improve on manual processes by increasing accuracy, efficiency and timeliness. Image capture technology even allows the technician to photograph and document the condition of a particular piece of equipment which can be transmitted in real-time to update the customer’s records.

Point-of-Sale Services. In a difficult economy, virtually nothing is more important that cash flow. Mobile field service solutions facilitate full-feature point-of-sale solutions that result in faster, more accurate billing and faster payment. Peripheral devices such as credit/debit card readers allow on-site payment (and real-time payment authorization) and the capture of the customers’ signatures while mobile printing devices can generate an on-the-spot invoice where payment can’t be collected on site, dramatically reducing days sales outstanding (DSO).

Upselling. Service organizations recognize that every customer contact, even service calls, is an opportunity to increase sales. A mobile field service solution empowers technicians and representatives with access to upsell and cross-sell information. Based on first-hand observation, a cable television technician might sell a customer an enhanced cable package, or other services offered by the cable company. They can also offer special discounts or service bundles, even print out coupons for discounts on other products or services. And they can verify the sale with a customer’s signature, and even accept payment by credit card.
Future Mobility

“In the future,” says Pomerleau, “technology advances will allow mobile field service solutions to take advantage of capabilities such as streaming video to enable on-the-go sales/service training with how-to-guides including schematics for both common and uncommon repair and service challenges.” It will also allow the correlation and coordination of communications including video, voice, photography and e-mail from a single device. “Mobility is absolutely a great equalizer, especially for field-based operations,” sums up Pomerleau, “Mobile solutions are helping local and regional service companies compete more effectively—and more profitably— against their competitors large or small.”

Honeywell Patient Safety

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) announced the presence of its Scanning & Mobility business at the HIMSS09 Annual Conference & Exhibition. Honeywell is committed to providing innovative solutions that help healthcare organizations improve patient safety and reduce costs. Honeywell’s full line of bar-code scanning, mobility and data management solutions for healthcare will be on display at the booth.

“We’re excited about the healthcare solutions that Honeywell has to offer,” said Dave Stewart, North American Healthcare Sales Leader for Honeywell Scanning & Mobility. “The demands put on healthcare providers are rapidly increasing. Our purpose-built solutions meet those demands, allowing healthcare organizations to raise the bar for the quality of patient care delivered.”

The booth will exhibit bar code scanners and mobile computers with disinfectant-ready housing built to withstand frequent exposure to harsh cleaning solutions used commonly in healthcare environments. These units include:

o 4600g – a hand-held area-imager scanner that can perform aggressive scanning of 1D and 2D bar codes found on prescriptions and insurance cards
o 4820 – a cordless area-imager scanner purpose built for cart-on-wheels applications.
o Dolphin® 9900hc – a new model that puts the field-tested Dolphin 9900 mobile computer in a healthcare-friendly casing;

Additional healthcare solutions on display at the booth are:

o MS7580 Genesis(TM) – a presentation area-imaging scanner that is ideal for use in pharmacies;
o Dolphin 7600 – a compact mobile computer for healthcare professionals on the move;
o MS4980 Vuquest(TM) – a lightweight and versatile area-imager scanner that is small enough to be mounted almost anywhere or easily held in the palm of your hand;
o Remote MasterMind® – a browser-based enterprise-wide management solution for IT administrators seeking to manage all scanners within their network from a single remote location.

The booth will also feature home telehealth solutions from Honeywell’s HomMedSM business:

o HomMed Genesis DM – a remote patient care monitor;
o HomMed LifeStreamSM – a remote patient care system.

Solutions that incorporate products from Honeywell and leading healthcare companies-Advanced Data Capture (ADC); SOTI; Cerner; Digi-Trax; JADAK; Lawson,emkat; and Surgicount Medical-will be demonstrated in the booth.

Presentations on various healthcare-related topics will be led by Honeywell, ADC and Digi-Trax. Specific presentations from the Honeywell Scanning & Mobility team include: Honeywell Healthcare Portfolio; Value of 2D Bar Codes in Healthcare; and Remote Device Management. Digi-Trax will be presenting Technology Options for Color Healthcare Labeling and Wristband Printing and ADC will be presenting Good Bar Codes. Bad Bar Codes. Factors to Consider When Implementing Bar Codes into Your Hospital.

The Honeywell HomMed group will be presenting information about their LifeStream Remote Patient Care home telehealth system. For complete schedule and information on additional presentations, please visit the booth.

“Our goal at the booth is to showcase solutions for real-world issues that matter to healthcare providers,” said Stewart. “Honeywell delivers end-to-end data management solutions from the point-of-care to the stock room that increase patient safety and maximize return on investment.”

For more information on Honeywell Scanning & Mobility, Call 770-979-8696 x701

Honeywell International is a $37 billion diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials. Based in Morris Township, N.J., Honeywell’s shares are traded on the New York, London and Chicago Stock Exchanges. For additional information, please visit

Mailers prepare for IMB and Move Update

Intelligent Mail Barcode Update
Cheap and IMB Compatible 2d Barcode Scanner: Honeywell 4600G

Mailers prepare for IMB and Move Update

Dec 2 2009 12:00 PM, By Christopher Lien

Aside from the May 11, 2009 price increase, the two most significant events this year will be the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) rollout of the Intelligent Mail barcode and extending the Move Update requirement to Standard Mail. Both of these initiatives provide opportunities for astute mailers, and increased liabilities if not fully understood.

Mailers that are claiming discounts on their Standard or First Class mail pieces must have updated the names and addresses at least 95 days prior to submitting the mailing. This rule is in effect today and is directly tied to reducing the nearly 10 billion pieces of Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail handled annually by the USPS. According to a UAA study conducted in 2006, the cost related to UAA mail is $2 billion with non-current addresses constituting well over 75 percent of the additional handling costs to forward, return, or dispose of the UAA mail.
Noncompliance is costly

Because the USPS considers Move Update a requirement for any postage discounts, the penalties for noncompliance can be significant. First Class mail that is deemed noncompliant will be charged the full single-piece rate across the entire mailing. For Standard mail, the proposed penalty is seven cents per piece across the entire mailing since there is no single-piece rate. This equates to roughly $70 per thousand pieces; a significant penalty when one considers that the typical cost for updating addresses with NCOALink (an approved Move Update method) is $2 per thousand pieces.

MERLIN, the Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument, is a tool the USPS uses to assist with the acceptance of business mail, including Move Update compliance. The USPS had initially targeted May 11, 2009, as the official date to leverage MERLIN as the primary adjudication device for Move Update compliance. However, that date has now been moved to January 2010 in order to determine tolerance levels for acceptance.

The Intelligent Mail barcode is another major initiative that has had some changing dates. Originally planned for implementation in January 2009, the rollout of the Full Service Intelligent Mail barcode (IMBC) is now set to begin May 18, 2009. At least that is the date those mailers who wish to take advantage of the benefits of Full Service IMBC will begin testing the electronic postage payment requirement with the USPS.

There are also postage discounts that will go into effect in November of 2009 for mail pieces that use the Full Service version of the Intelligent Mail barcode. First Class Mail pieces that are compliant may receive 3 tenths of a cent ($.003) and Standard mail pieces may receive one tenth of a cent ($0.001). Compared with the cost of implementing new hardware and software for supporting IMBC, these discounts seem paltry in comparison. However, the USPS is quick to point out that there are many additional benefits to IMBC.

Cheap and IMB Compatible 2d Barcode Scanner: Honeywell 4600G

Effective May 2011, the Intelligent Mail barcode will replace Postnet as the only barcode eligible for postage discounts. Since there is no specific discount for use of the Basic Intelligent Mail barcode, it is likely that many mailers will continue to use Postnet until then.
More changes to come

Regardless of the type of barcode used, or the Move Update method applied to names and addresses, the next several years will see numerous changes to the mailing industry. Keeping abreast of these changes will be essential for mailers who wish to continue to reap the greatest opportunities in postage discounts as well as timely and predictable mail delivery.

An excellent resource for more information on Move Update and Intelligent mail is the newly designed USPS RIBBS web page ( Mailers should also continue to work closely with their software and hardware providers and work collaboratively with their local USPS business mail acceptance office and mail piece design analysts.

The USPS will likely implement temporary postage discounts for high-volume mailers who schedule drops between June 15 and Sept. 15. While the details of the program are still being worked out, discounts are expected to be between 20 percent and 30 percent.

If the program is implemented, discount levels will be based on mailers’ meeting individually calculated levels based on the volume of mail they sent out between June 15 and Sept. 15, 2008. Because of the manpower needed to calculate each level and discount, the sale may apply to only the 4,000 largest Standard Mail class users, according to a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) statement speculating on the discount program.


Cheap and IMB Compatible 2d Barcode Scanner: Honeywell 4600G


Honeywell’s Dolphin® 9900 and Sydion’s
emergency management technology provide
efficient H1N1 vaccination

Fort Mill, S.C. – December 2, 2009 – Honeywell (NYSE: HON) today announced that Sydion, LCC, a mobile crisis management technology company, is offering its’ patient-tracking software on Honeywell’s mobility platform to assist in the administration of the H1N1 vaccine. The system that Sydion is offering bundles Honeywell’s Dolphin® 9900 mobile computers into Sydion’s eMET®, an emergency patient tracking system, to deliver a complete offering that enables healthcare providers to effectively prepare for and manage mass H1N1 vaccine administration at locations such as hospitals, vaccination clinics or schools. Recently made available to the public, the H1N1 vaccine is in extremely high demand due to several outbreaks of the H1N1 flu, commonly known as the “swine flu.” The mobile tracking system offered by Sydion enables healthcare facilities and public health agencies to address the public need by offering a system to track, monitor and administer available vaccines either remotely or on-site.

With eMET®, patients are provided with a bar-coded wrist band or other form of identification that includes vital information which is used to create an electronic medical record. The patient ID is entered into the eMET® central database, creating a way for medical personnel to track and prioritize all patients, based on individual needs. The system automatically transmits all patient data scanned or entered into the mobile computer to the patient’s record in the eMET® database, ensuring that physicians have up-to-date information and can follow up with the patient as needed.

“With increased anticipation around H1N1 vaccination and ongoing outbreaks, it was imperative to find a solution that will allow us to safely and efficiently serve our patients,” said Linda McAndrew, RN and Administrative Director, Trauma Program and Emergency Preparedness, Scranton Community Medical Center. “Given our previous success using eMET®, we are confident that this technology will allow our personnel to effectively administer the H1N1 vaccine, while continuing our focus on providing top quality patient care.” “eMET® is designed with easy-to-learn technology so all medical staff can quickly adapt to the system, which is extremely vital in emergency situations,” said Nina Johnson, Managing Director, Sydion, LCC. “We chose Honeywell’s mobile computers because of their simplicity and durability, allowing medical administrators to stay connected in any type of environment and under most conditions.”

The wireless technology and rugged design of Honeywell’s Dolphin mobile computers gives the units flexibility for use in environments such as schools, offices, and indoor or outdoor locations. With this mobility, healthy patients no longer need to sit in a waiting area with sick patients, as healthcare personnel are able to travel outside of their offices to administer the vaccine. This eliminates exposing healthy patients to the illness, and enables providers to effectively immunize patients while largely reducing transmission of the virus.

For environments that may require a higher level of infection control, eMET® is available with Honeywell’s Dolphin 9900hc mobile computer. The Dolphin 9900hc is equipped with disinfectant-ready housing and is built to withstand frequent cleaning with harsh chemicals. This product allows for maximum cleanliness in any environment, helping to minimize the spread of germs from patient to patient.

“With such a prominent healthcare concern rising around the world, Honeywell is pleased that Sydion selected its Dolphin 9900 mobile computer to be a part of their eMET® offering that allows healthcare facilities to manage the process of H1N1 vaccinations,” said John Waldron, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Honeywell Scanning & Mobility. “Through its relationship with Sydion, Honeywell is delivering on its commitment to provide devices that are being used to address the healthcare concerns of today by helping to ensure medical accuracy and increase patient safety.

Linentracker Automates Management of Hotel Towels and Sheets Using RFID

Linentracker Automates Management of Hotel Towels and Sheets Using RFID

Linentracker Automates Management of Hotel Towels and Sheets Using RFID linen tracker
Hotels throughout the world have begun to use RFID technology for a variety of different functions such as uniform tracking and keyless entry. Now, there’s also a company called Linentracker that offers RFID systems to take inventory of towels and sheets, allowing hotels to be more efficient with their laundering processes.

Linentracker uses EPC Gen 2 inlays and is based on passive, ultrahigh-frequency (UHF tags and readers that comply with the EPC Gen 2 standards With the Linentracker system, the hotel can access real-time inventory levels of its linens throughout the hotel, all while optimizing linen laundering processes.

The system works by mounting RFID readers to the inside of hotel linen closets, which are located of every floor, in addition to various places throughout the laundry room. RFID tags are attached to each and every piece of linen, ranging from towels, to sheets to pillowcases. The RFID tags, which are sewn into the seam of each linen, are sealed within a flexible, waterproof material specifically engineered to protect the tag from extreme temperatures and shock.

Since many hotels still perform manual inventory counts of their linens, the Linentracker would ultimately save hotel staff a lot of time, which in turn, would save the hotels money. With Linentracker, each linen closet’s inventory can be tracked remotely in real-time. In addition, the Linentracker can create instructions to tell workers how much of the dirty laundry they will need to clean in order to meet the demands for the following day, which ultimately reduces energy and water usage. In addition to creating a more efficient workflow, the Linentracker is able to prevent thefts of both staff and guests.

While Linentracker is still in a pilot program, I imagine it will become a high demand for hotels around the world. Linentracker is another example of RFID technology being put to good use, ultimately enabling the spread and usage of RFID.

Contact BaxTek Solutions now for more information

GAO audit: Schools slow to get alerts about tainted food

GAO audit: Schools slow to get alerts about tainted food –

By Peter Eisler and Blake Morrison, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Federal agencies that supply food for 31 million schoolchildren fail to ensure that tainted products are pulled quickly from cafeterias, a federal audit obtained by USA TODAY finds.

The delays raise the risk of children being sickened by contaminated food, according to the audit by Congress’ Government Accountability Office.

In recent recalls, including one this year in which salmonella-infected peanut butter sickened almost 700 people, the government failed to disseminate “timely and complete notification about suspect food products provided to schools through the federal commodities program,” the audit says.

Such alerts sometimes took more than a week to reach schools, “during which time (schools) unknowingly served affected products.”

The audit focuses on the Food and Nutrition Service, or FNS, an arm of the Department of Agriculture that provides states and school systems with federally purchased commodities for school lunch and breakfast programs. The agency lacks systems to ensure that it is notified when the Food and Drug Administration begins a food-safety investigation that may lead to a recall, the audit says.

Then, instead of determining in advance whether a suspect product was sent to schools — and advising those schools not to serve the food while the investigation is underway — the service sometimes doesn’t begin that process until a recall announcement is made.

“Further actions must be taken to strengthen the communications, planning and procedures needed to prevent recalled or contaminated foods from entering (school) cafeterias,” Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who chairs the Committee on Education and Labor, said of the findings.

Auditors cited the recalls of 4,000 products containing peanuts from the Peanut Corp. of America. After salmonella was traced to the Georgia plant, the FDA announced a limited recall of products made there during a specific period. But the Food and Nutrition Service determined that its purchases from the plant were not made during that time and said on its website that schools weren’t affected. Not until six days later, after the recall was expanded to cover products made on other dates, did the service tell schools to pull all the plant’s products.

As a result, the audit says, some of the 226 students who got diarrhea and other salmonella-related symptoms “may have consumed the (tainted) products in school.” About 46 were hospitalized.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a written response to the audit that ensuring the safety of school meals is of “utmost importance” and the department is developing a formal system to get advance notice when FDA is investigating food-safety concerns that could lead to recalls. He also promised new policies and guidelines to improve communication with states and schools.

“It is absolutely essential that food recalls affecting schools are carried out quickly and effectively because children are most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill from food-borne illness outbreaks,” says Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who chairs the House Approprations subcommittee on agriculture.

RFID boosts recycling bins, local businesses

RFID boosts recycling bins, local businesses – Metalcraft I.D. Plates & Labels

RFID boosts recycling bins, local businesses changes household habits in Michigan

Problem: Benefits of recycling is understood, accessible, but not practiced.

Americans recycle about a quarter of their residential trash – a rate that has remained fairly constant despite the growth of curbside recycling service, community education and other efforts to encourage more recycling.

Research suggests behavior is not changing because of the extra effort involved to recycle and the lack of perceived benefits.

So, Rewards for Recycling in Davison, Michigan decided to provide motivation and remove practical obstacles to recycling in their community just north of Detroit.

“We wanted to create a system that rewarded residents for the simple act of curbside recycling – a service they were already paying for with property taxes,” said Preston Hards, Marketing Manager at Rewards for Recycling. “Our aim was to make it easy for the resident, waste hauler and municipality; we wanted to create benefits for all.”

Solution: Metalcraft RFID labels track recycling bins, generate rewards

Rewards for Recycling developed a system that used Web-based memberships and an RFID system to easily and automatically track residents’ recycling activity.

The program provides Metalcraft’s RFID labels to each residence which are placed on their curbside recycling bin. The labels have a unique account ID number corresponding to the address, and the community’s waste haulers carry RFID readers either in their vests or mounted on the trucks which automatically read the labels without burdening their work.

“We were most impressed with Metalcraft’s labels because of their performance,” said Hards. “These curbside recycling bins are outside in Michigan where snow, salt, heat and abrasion take their toll. We needed durable, reliable RFID products with quick turnaround, and Metalcraft is very accommodating.”

Rewards for Recycling also secured the participation of local businesses to provide coupons, giveaways and other money-saving certificates to residents’ recycling. Each time the household recycles, they are awarded credit to their account which can be redeemed for items and offers from local businesses.

“We knew we needed an incentive,” said Hards. “In addition to encouraging individual participation, the program does help establish a collective consciousness in the community. The tie to the local community is important.”

Result: household recycling up 50 percent, local businesses benefit

Davison, Grand Blanc, and Genesee Townships were the first of three communities to use the program in Genesse County where residential recycling rates range from 8 to 22 percent of households. In just one month, the number households recycling shot up 50 percent, and the volume of recycling more than tripled.

The RFID-enabled program generates foot traffic for local businesses and thousands of savings certificates were downloaded from in the first month.

“This is truly a four-way winning proposition,” said Hards. “The community wins by going Green and dramatically reducing waste, the residents benefit with great savings, the local businesses benefit from the increased traffic and free promotion, and of course, most importantly, our environment wins.”

With a proven concept, Rewards for Recycling has their eyes on expansion. Just 18 percent of Michigan households recycle statewide. And Hards is eager to serve multiple types of communities including universities, large condo and apartment complexes in addition to residential neighborhoods.

“Metalcraft’s RFID labels on bins can make it easy to track recycling activity in apartments, condos and other communities,” said Hards. “Rewards for Recycling could really change the composition of garbage dumpsters in those environments.”

Rugged Mobile Computing: A Quality Issue

Rugged Mobile Computing: A Quality Issue | Quality Digest

Mobile data collection systems provide real-time visibility for batch traceability, raw materials levels, and finished goods inventory.

Innovative vehicle-mounted, hand-held, and wearable mobile computers must be dependable, tough, and reliable. Wireless computers extend corporate networks to mobile workers in demanding conditions and only rugged mobile computers drive down costs and improve customer satisfaction. These are quality-centric concepts.

Baldwin Richardson Foods, headquartered in Frankfort, Illinois, with manufacturing facility in Macedon, New York, produces bakery fillings, syrups, sauces, toppings, beverage mixes, condiments packets, and other food products. “Our operations were all manual. We wanted to automate and had looked into different bar coding systems over the years, but nothing was the right fit,” says Craig Czajka, the IT manager at Baldwin Richardson Foods. “Our [enterprise resource planning] ERP system is everything to us—it runs the whole business. We couldn’t take a chance with any systems or vendors that hadn’t proven they could integrate with it.”

Based in Norcross, Georgia, LXE offered Baldwin Richardson Foods a full range of turnkey services, including radio integration, project and installation management, network design, technical support, and repair services. LXE helped the company transition to real-time visibility and gain control over raw materials, production status, and inventory transfers, warehousing, and distribution to customers. “Bar coding doesn’t fix things, it just makes things faster,” says Czajka. “We had to fix our processes first. The knowledge LXE had about working with our Ross ERP system was very valuable to us. Some of the other vendors we looked at had started to support Ross, but they weren’t there yet.”

LXE helped Baldwin Richardson Foods design a wireless network and mobile data collection systems to support new processes that provide real-time visibility for batch traceability, raw materials levels, and finished goods inventory.

Previously, production was carefully controlled, but the handling and storage of finished products relied on fork-truck drivers using paperwork. Raw materials were delivered to “cook decks” where cooks manually recorded the contents and amounts of each ingredient used in a batch. Completed products were stacked in cases on pallets at the end of the production lines. Fork-truck drivers cruised among any of the five to seven lines running that day, looking for full pallets, which they would pick up and deliver to a staging area for transfer to Baldwin Richardson Foods’ distribution facility. Paper order tickets informed drivers of the truck bay to deliver each pallet. Some production runs last for three days; others are completed in a shift. During production runs there were very few updates to the ERP system when drivers relied on paperwork. Backlogs developed and jobs often were not closed until three to six days after the actual production run ended. Because there were very few updates during production, data in the ERP system was often several days behind, making it difficult to accurately manage inventory.

“Some of the flavorings we use have little crossover in our product lines, so they might last six months. They come in 500-pound drums, but only 10 pounds might be used in a recipe. Flavorings are very expensive—some drums cost in the thousands, so we don’t want to keep extra that we don’t need,” says Czajka. “When the flavoring is delivered to the cook deck, the entire drum was taken out of inventory, and the system wouldn’t show it as available until after the job was closed out. If it was needed for something else, we knew it probably was in stock, but we didn’t really know, or know how much. We wanted to be more real-time, and that’s what bar coding does for us.” To protect against production stoppages from running out of ingredients, Baldwin Richardson Foods began taking full inventories every three or four months. “We had to, because we couldn’t trust what was happening on the floor,” says Czajka.

According to Wayne Baxter, of BaxTek Solutions, in Snellville, Georgia, a leading systems integrator that works closely with LXE in the quality PartnerPass program, “The increasingly significant role of food traceability makes the value of collecting real-time data less of an option and more of a necessity. Finding vendors with rugged data collection products is absolutely essential. We found that in cold-storage food plants and other food processing and warehousing situations, LXE has a vital role in HACCP [Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points].”

Wireless data collection has improved control and productivity at the distribution facility. Manual receiving, order picking, and shipping have been replaced by bar code procedures. Bar code scanning ensures product codes and lot numbers are entered accurately. The ERP system relies on this information for first-in, first-out inventory management. Workers are directed to pick based on expiration date, helping to prevent holding expired products in inventory. As at the production facility, outgoing orders are scanned at the loading dock to ensure orders are complete and accurate. The operator’s job in the shipping department had regressed into checking loads and chasing paperwork so orders could be released. Now that processes are automated, the worker is back to spending the majority of his time on more productive work.

“The fork-truck drivers don’t have to ask the shipping person where things are all the time because now they can find them on their own; they just look them up on their hand-helds. That’s saving a lot of time at the warehouse,” says Czajka. Production and distribution operations that used to rely on paper now rely on LXE wireless computers. Despite its drawbacks, paper never crashes. The LXE computers rarely do, even though they are used heavily throughout the day and are carried in and out of coolers, freezers, and the busy production floor.

“Heavy duty was our No. 1 requirement for mobile computers,” says Czajka, “LXE is well known for being rugged, and they have a very good name in the industry. I can’t imagine what things would be like if the LXE computers weren’t as rugged as they are.” The immediate benefits to quality performance have been impressive:

• Records that were out of date by days are now updated in real time.
• Blind spots have been eliminated from production and inventory operations.
• Productivity is rising.
• Shipping errors have declined.
• Paperwork and the time it took to complete it have been driven out of production, handling, warehousing, and shipping operations.
• Lot tracking has improved and compliance with traceability regulations is simplified.
• As the system proves itself, Baldwin Richardson Foods will be looking to eliminate the two-day shut downs to take inventory at both facilities.

“I believe that in this age of terror, the only thing that can stop a small group of committed individuals is a large group of committed individuals. Only all of us acting together, with wise policies and sound judgments, can make our world safer,” says Margaret A. Hamburg, a Food and Drug Administration administrator.

“The role of technology to ensure a safe food supply chain is only going to grow and quality-focused companies like LXE are perfectly positioned,” agrees Baxter.