Capitalize On UID Compliance Mandates
This integrator landed a $125,000 bar code printing and RFID (radio frequency
identification) installation for a DoD supplier needing to meet UID (unique identification) mandates.
While many VARs have given up trying to land RFID business, integrator American Barcode and RFID (AB&R) has continued to promote the technology. Indeed, for more than a year the integrator has been sending marketing materials and white papers to DoD suppliers. "When it comes to RFID and UID compliance, you want to be the one people think about when it's time for them to comply," says Gary Randall, director of marketing and solution management at AB&R. The strategy has worked. AB&R recently was contacted by one of its targeted suppliers to put together a solution that would help the supplier meet UID marking mandates. UID marking calls for, among other things, select government-purchased products to be marked with labels containing 2-D data matrix bar codes and human-readable text. Just recently, the government began enforcing its UID marking requirements. In the case of AB&R's customer, urgency was added to the project, as the customer had $5 million in inventory needing the appropriate UID marking before it could be shipped. Therefore, AB&R was given a one-month time frame to complete the entire installation.
Populate Bar Code Labels Via Excel Data Imports
The implementation was completed in two phases. The first phase involved installing Seagull Scientific BarTender software and performing an import of Microsoft Excel data (via a comma delimited file export) on the ready-to-ship inventory. Specifically, the BarTender software was able to merge the part number and serial number data within the file to create UID-compliant data matrix bar codes. Because of this import functionality, AB&R was able to generate the necessary labels in half a day. For a label printer, the integrator recommended a Zebra R113 RFID printer/encoder. Randall says the BarTender software was instrumental in being able to print the labels so quickly. "Having the ability to simply select a printer from a list rather than writing a printer driver using ZPL (zebra programming language) code saved us a week." A Motorola MC9090-G RFID handheld mobile computer was used to validate the accuracy of the encoded tags and associated pallet information.
Once the immediate need was met, the integrator moved on to the second phase of the DoD supplier installation. This included expanding the initial solution to enable the supplier not only to create the UID markings for future inventory, but also to electronically generate support documents required by the DoD for record keeping and payment. In addition, the solution was needed at three of the supplier's manufacturing plants.
Automate DoD Forms And Registry Requirements
One of the key components to the second phase of the solution was middleware software from ISV (independent software vendor) Infinity Technologies. Named ID Works, the software is specifically designed for DoD UID and RFID compliance. ID Works is used to automatically populate (from the data used by the BarTender software) DoD-required forms and online registry requirements. Additionally, WAWF (Wide Area Work Flow, a DoD-run online invoicing and receipt system) updates can be performed electronically, rather than manually entering information into another system. The integrator learned about the ID Works software at a Motorola-held conference designed to introduce integrators and VARs with ISVs.
The second phase also included integrating a Universal Laser Systems VersaLaser. The VersaLaser is used to etch UID markings onto anodized aluminum plates that can be attached to the marked products. According to Randall, the BarTender Windows printer driver made printing to the VersaLaser a "few clicks process." Additionally, Randall explains that there are government requirements to validate and verify that the 2-D data matrix bar codes meet mandate requirements. Therefore, AB&R also recommended a Microscan Quadrus Verifier, used to analyze, measure, and report the quality of created bar codes for inspectors. The total cost of the entire solution was $125,000.
With the installation completed within the one month timeline, AB&R now hopes to earn business from the DoD supplier's other divisions, as well as continue its marketing efforts aimed at other DoD suppliers.