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At the recent RFID Network Forum in June 2007, David Hillis of INFORM gmbh gave a presentation that showed how the company had used RFID as a means of gaining visibility to increase their products capability to manage inventory.
INFORM was established in 1969 with headquarters in Aachen, Germany and with other offices in Frankfurt, London and Chicago. The company employs more than 300 software engineers and business consultants. INFORM specialises in IT systems for the optimized planning and control of business processes. They are based on advanced decision support technologies including Operations Research and Fuzzy Logic.
The complete product portfolio of INFORM is:
- SyncroTESS—Optimized planning and real-time dispatch of Truck Fleets, Container Transportation, Building Materials Deliveries, Intermodal Terminal Ops., In-plant Materials Handling and Health Care Logistics.
- GroundStar—Optimized planning, allocation and administration of ground handling processes and airport resources.
- Add*ONE—As an add-on to existing IT systems, add*ONE optimizes procurement and inventory control.
- INVENT—Optimized stock taking and goods inwards inspection by using advanced sampling techniques.
- FELIOS—As an add-on to existing ERP systems, FELIOS optimizes production scheduling for make-to-order type manufacturing companies.
- RiskShield—optimized fraud detection and prevention for the banking and insurance industries.
- fuzzyTECH is a software development tools for fuzzy logic and neural-fuzzy solutions.
SyncroTESS is modularly designed. The radio frequency module automates the communication between the Transport Efficiency Support System SyncroTESS and the drivers. It sets up a bi-directional interface between SyncroTESS and a transparent RF-system. The displays of special handheld or vehicle mounted terminals show the proposals which SyncroTESS makes for the transport orders. By pressing a key the driver can accept or reject these proposals. Type and contents of the masks can be customized for each client. Free text entries are possible, too. Depending on the RF- technology chosen (spread spectrum, narrow band, Digital Cellular Network, DECT, etc.) different devices with varying performance features can be used.
For BMW, INFORM’s SyncroTESS provides control and documentation for all truck movements into and in the plants at Munich, Dingolfin and Regensberg. Time slot allocation is supported over the internet. Trucks, on arrival, are given an RFID tag that is used to keep track of them once on the plant. This system has recently gone live at the new BMW plant in Leipzig and will be rolled out BMW’s UK plants.
In the case of the Swiss Postal Services, INFORM provides the means, through SyncroTESS, to track trucks arriving both by road and rail coming into the depots. In addition the roll cages containing the packages are also tagged so that once unloaded they can be tracked within the plant.
INFORM use RFID to help them keep real-time tracking of objects of interest of their customers to allow the inventory optimisation to achieve Lean. With the ability that INFORM has to interface to all the major ERP solutions, I would recommend anyone who has a need to optimise inventory to take a closer look at INFORM. It is important to remember that INFORM use RFID tags appropriate to the environment and service needs of their customers.