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Jewellery retailer tracks inventory with RFID from Orizin
Dec '08
Jewelex India Pvt. Ltd., a jewelry retailer based in Mumbai, India, is completing a four-month pilot of a radio frequency identification system designed to improve inventory tracking and security for products in its stores. The system—which employs passive RFID tags for its less expensive inventory, and active tags for high-value items—is in place at its Opulence store in the Hotel Shangri-La, located in New Delhi.

Developed by Orizin Technologies, the system provides real-time inventory tracking with RFID interrogators installed in the store's ceiling, to take a constant inventory of items bearing active tags, as well as a countertop RFID interrogator to read the passive tags attached to lower-value items.

Jewelex India installed the system to test the technology at one of its stores. If the pilot succeeds in improving inventory tracking and security, the company plans to deploy the solution across all three of its retail locations—two in India, and a third in Dubai.

All jewelry is first tagged as it is placed in cabinets on the sales floor—some with less expensive reusable passive tags, and the high-value items with battery-powered tags. Both tag types employ a proprietary air-interface protocol operating at 865-868 MHz. The passive tags measure approximately 1 inch by a quarter inch, while the active tags are about 1 inch square and a quarter-inch thick.

Tags are typically attached to the jewelry using a plastic loop. Each tag is encoded with a unique ID that store personnel can input into a back-end server and link to data regarding that item, according to Prashant Agrawal, Orizin's founder and CEO.

The active tags, with a battery life of about eight months, have a longer read range and do not require inventory to be conducted by employees using such traditional methods as sweeping a handheld reader along the store cabinets, or by installing RFID readers in the cabinets themselves.

With the Orizin system, if anyone attempts to inactivate an active tag, separate the tag from the piece of jewelry to which it is attached, or remove the tagged item from the premises, the system triggers an audible alarm. The software can also detect when an item is moved—such as a piece of jewelry being taken from a cabinet and placed somewhere it does not belong—and send a alert to store personnel.

The reader is typically installed behind a false ceiling, and thus hidden from view. The quantity of interrogators required in a particular store depends on the dimensions of the space it inhabits. "On average, a reader has a scanning zone of around 400 square feet," Agrawal says. "It can scan [the active tags of] all items located within this area if the reader is placed 10 to 15 feet aboveground."

In addition, for security purposes, an interrogator is installed below the floor at the store's exit. If a piece of jewelry bearing an active tag leaves the premises, the reader will capture its ID number, and the system will send an alert to the authorized store manager via e-mail or text message, as well as change the status of the specific item to "missing" in the store's software.

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