Category Archives: News and Views

Swiftsure to Demo at Cold Chain Event

Sept. 26, 2017 – The Swiftsure Group will demonstrate its temperature excursion solution that integrates RFID with sensor technologies at the 15th annual Cold Chain Global Forum September 27–29.

The forum, at Chicago’s McCormick Place, highlights technical and regulatory developments in temperature controlled environments for pharma and life science supply chains. More than 800 cold chain professionals are expected to attend the event’s exhibition, conference and workshops.

RFID and sensor technology for pharmaceutical and life sciences cold chain

RFID and sensor technology – protecting the cold chain for pharma and life sciences

The Swiftsure Group’s data capture and information management system enables users to monitor, track and receive alerts regarding time out of environment (TOE).

The system, developed with Swiftsure partners rfidCollect and RFID Ready, uses data capture and information management software with commercially available third party or proprietary RFID readers.

The Swiftsure Group’s demonstration will show how the TOE solution tracks and records temperature excursions using Smartrac temperature sensors. The system is currently being deployed in pilot projects, including pharmaceutical product manufacturing.

Swiftsure will demo the TOE solution in Smartrac’s booth #706.

The Swiftsure Group is a systems developer and integrator specializing in RFID- and sensor-based solutions for healthcare, pharma, government, transportation, construction and other markets that require effective, reliable compliance, audit and safety management. Its proprietary software and hardware products include TOE solutions for cold chain as well as automatic data collection for tracking and verifying condition, maintenance and cleaning of IT and medical equipment.

Read more about Swiftsure’s pharma cold chain solutions.

 

Swiftsure Group Announces the Swift-ID SID400 RFID Reader and IOT180 Android Controller

SEATTLE– May 05, 2017 – The Swiftsure Group announced today the launch of the Swift-ID SID400 RFID reader and Swift-ID IOT180 embedded Android computer. Middleware from SDG Systems is designed to control the SID400. The powerful, compact combination lets solution providers create intelligent, integrated RFID systems for inventory management, access control, kiosk solutions, asset tracking and industrial automation.

The Swift-ID SID400 is a UHF EPCglobal Gen 2, USB-connected reader/writer powered by a RAIN-compliant Impinj Indy RS2000 module. It provides a 16-pin terminal block with four GPIO ports, and 5V and 12V outputs. Its USB 2.0-to-serial bridge with configurable vendor ID allows for white label solutions. The SID400 accommodates four antennas. System functions can be monitored through status LEDs.

Swift-ID IOT180

The Swift-ID IOT180 embedded Android computer

The Swift-ID IOT180 is a full-featured embedded Android computer. Running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM, with enough memory and storage for sophisticated applications. The included Google Mobile Services (GMS) allows the IOT180 to provide integrated Android for Work (AfW) management capabilities and Google-specific services. The IOT180 connects to the cloud or private networks using Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth and optional 3.75G HSPA+ cellular.

SDG System’s middleware provides a full-featured SDK to control RFID reading and writing, settings and GPIOs. With additional software the IOT180 can be configured into kiosk mode and managed remotely.

“The Swift-ID system is a high-performance RFID automatic data collection solution for inventory, resource and process management,” said Swiftsure Group CEO Bruno Riegl. “It meets customers’ needs for affordable solutions that excel in challenging environments, from pharma cold chain to steel manufacturing. It gives customers a competitive edge and healthy ROI.”

New RFID solution captures reliable, accurate data – even amid flying sparks and metal

The SID400 and IOT180’s flexibility gives RFID cloud and fog computing options to solution providers. It lets developers build applications that process data at high speeds, providing shorter response times and better analytics.

The SID400, IOT180 and SDG Systems software will be demonstrated May 8-11 at RFID Journal Live 2017 in booth #938. The solutions, expected to be available in June 2017, can be purchased from either The Swiftsure Group or SDG Systems.

About Swift-ID

Swift-ID is a collaboration between The Swiftsure Group and SDG Systems to provide affordable, powerful, turnkey RFID other IOT solutions.

About The Swiftsure Group

The Swiftsure Group is a systems developer and integrator specializing in RFID- and sensor-based technologies for inventory, asset and workflow management. Since 1998 it has provided consulting services, turnkey solutions and project management for automatic data capture, resource optimization and business process improvement.

 

Swiftsure Group Launches Pharma Supply Chain Solution

March 9, 2017 – Swiftsure Group has launched a solution for pharma to track temperature excursions when drugs and biologics deviate from specified ranges during storage, manufacturing and/or transportation. The company developed the solution for a multi-billion dollar client that produces more than 70 billion doses of product annually for approximately 7,000 customers worldwide.

Swiftsure Group’s turnkey solution uses passive UHF RFID and temperature sensors to track and record products’ time out of refrigeration (TOR), also known as time out of environment (TOE). The solution automatically identifies product, dwell time, location and environmental conditions. The aggregated data is used to both track products and automate notifications when temperature variances or critical lapsed TOR events occur or are anticipated.

RFID and sensor technologies boost pharma safety, compliance and profit margins

Swiftsure Group’s solution combines its proprietary RFID reader based on Impinj’s Indy RS2000 with EPC Gen-2 RFID/temperature sensor tags. When fully integrated with the client’s ERP system, Swiftsure’s solution will replace a mainly manual process for tracking products’ TOR during storage, staging and processing of formulation activities.

Swiftsure’s client engages in drug formulation, analytical testing, clinical and commercial manufacturing and clinical packaging. The FDA strictly regulates the company’s activities and processes, which are also subject to regular audits by customers for whom it produces encapsulated pharmaceuticals and biologics. Given the highly regulated environment in which Swiftsure’s client operates, the solution also provides an enhanced ability to provide timely, accurate data retrieval for forensics in case of product recalls.

While a pilot and subsequent implementations will initially focus on US production facilities, the global pharmasolution is expected to expand to international locations using region-specific RFID tags and sensors. Automation of TOR-related data capture and integration with the client’s ERP system is expected to generate substantial savings in labor costs and improve operating margins.

Swiftsure Group is a systems developer and integrator specializing in RFID- and sensor-based solutions for healthcare, pharma, government, transportation, construction and other markets that require effective, reliable compliance, audit and safety management. Its proprietary software and hardware products include time out of refrigeration (TOR) solutions for cold chain as well as automatic data collection for tracking and verifying condition, maintenance and cleaning of IT and medical equipment.

 

Swiftsure Group Heads to HIMSS17

February 17, 2017 – The Swiftsure Group will join 1,200 exhibitors and 45,000 healthcare IT attendees at HIMSS17 in Orlando February 19-23.

The annual HIMSS conference and exhibition brings together health IT professionals, clinicians, executives and vendors from around the world.

The nation’s largest healthcare convention, HIMSS presents noted speakers, health IT products and networking opportunities. More than 300 educational programs feature thought leader sessions, roundtable discussions and workshops, plus a full day of pre-conference symposia.

Swiftsure Group is a systems developer and integrator specializing in RFID- and sensor-based solutions for healthcare, pharma and other markets that require effective, reliable compliance, audit and product safety management.

The company’s proprietary software and hardware products include time out of refrigeration (TOR) solutions for cold chain as well as automatic data collection for tracking and verifying condition, maintenance and cleaning of IT and medical equipment.

HIMSS is the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. It is a global, cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology (IT). HIMSS leads efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using information technology.

 

Just How Small Is a Smaller RFID Tag?

swiftsureMay 26, 2016 –

North Carolina State University (NCSU) announced this month that its engineers had designed UHF RFID tags that are 25% smaller.

The question is, smaller than what? The answer takes some imagination and a look at a paper with a big title: Design of a Rectifier-Free UHF Gen-2 Compatible RFID Tag Using RF-Only Logic.

Cubic mm

This is a 1 mm cube. New RFID tag is .6mm x .3 mm.

It’s not uncommon to see press releases touting the newest “smallest” tag, and size has definitely shrunk over the last few years, making RFID a less cumbersome, more affordable asset management solution.

The NCSU tag, though, promises to take design a step further with technology that eliminates the hardware an RFID tag needs to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).

The new tag is .6 mm x .3 mm.

That’s smaller than a slice of a grain of sand. A sliver of half a honeybee brain. Tinier than a fruit fly egg.

New tags are tinier than a fruit fly egg

New RFID tags are smaller than a fruit fly egg

Perhaps easier to picture, it’s the size of a lower case “o” printed in Times New Roman 5.

Passive RFID tags use rectifiers to convert AC power to DC. NCSU’s innovation enables the tag’s logic to run directly from a radio signal, with circuits operating from AC power. The redesign makes a rectifier unnecessary.

“By eliminating the hardware that is used to convert the AC signal to DC for powering the circuit, we are able to make the RFID tag much smaller and less expensive,” said Paul Franzon, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NCSU and the paper’s senior author.

The tags, with technology dubbed RF-only logic, have less range than a conventional EPC Class 1 Gen-2 passive RFID tag.

Reduced tag size often comes at the expense of read range. That works for some situations, such as near field communication (NFC) for access control and pay-by-phone. But tracking and managing assets in many environments – such as retail, data centers, manufacturing and supply chains – require read ranges of up to 20 feet.RF-only logic structure

The NCSU engineering team expects to develop RFID tags with similar range. If its technology evolves to allow minute tags with sufficient read range, it could dramatically improve high-speed automation processes and enable sensor applications with relatively small investments.

NCSU presented its paper on the miniaturized RFID tag May 5 at the IEEE RFID 2016 conference in Orlando, Florida.

Swiftsure Group at RFID Journal Live 2016

swiftsureApril 26, 2016 – The Swiftsure Group will be at RFID Journal Live, the world’s largest RFID exhibition and conference, May 3-5 in Orlando. This year’s event will include more than 200 industry exhibitors as well as educational and networking opportunities.

The exhibition’s keystone sponsor is Swiftsure Group partner Zebra Technologies.

The exhibition hall will host leading technology companies and radio frequency identification solution providers. Technologies will include passive low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF), as well as active RFID and real-time location system (RTLS).

Swiftsure Group RFID Solutions

The Swiftsure Group integrates industry-leading RFID hardware and software

Solution providers will introduce new applications designed to make RFID deployments easier and less complex:

Avery Dennison – the AD-680, an addition to the company’s slotted-loop (sloop) family of UHF RFID inlays

NXP Semiconductors – products designed for the secure connected vehicle, security and privacy, and smart connected solutions markets

Omni-ID – new on-metal RFID labels featuring more product options and greater printer compatibility and performance reliability

PAL Robotics – StockBot, a robot that performs autonomous inventory counts at retail stores and warehouses using RFID

In addition to the exhibition, RFID Journal Live will feature:

  • ›  Industry how-to conference tracks
  • ›  In-depth preconference seminars and workshops
  • ›  Post-conference seminars
  • ›  Fast-track training
  • ›  RFID Professional Institute’s certification exam
  • ›  RFID Journal Awards
  • ›  Three co-located events: the Internet of Things Conference, IEEE RFID 2016 and the Last Mile Consortia Forum

 

 

Asset Management Is Key to Securing Data

swiftsure

April 16, 2016 –

Most of us don’t give a second thought to what’s in our printers. We should think again.

Racist, anti-Semitic rants recently spewed out of printers at more than a dozen colleges across the country, from Princeton to the University of California, Berkeley.

As a New York Times article pointed out, the hater hacker didn’t mean to print his manifesto on every campus. He intended to print it from every single publicly accessible printer in the US.

An April article in Slate Magazine also discussed the dangers of using sophisticated, often shared printers and other devices over wireless networks.

Fret about the real threat

The flier frenzy, launched by an American neo-Nazi in Abkhazia near Russia, was a disturbing reminder of how vulnerable our interconnected devices are.

Untracked assets create data risk

Zombies and the undud – devouring resources and storing sensitive data

The Swiftsure Group recently shared some insight about the role of total asset lifecycle management in mitigating risks of the IoT.  The focus was on data centers, where zombie servers devour resources, and healthcare facilities, home to the undud – fully functional but unaccounted-for equipment.

Printers, servers, monitors, scanners and copiers all transmit, and store, data. Organizations often overlook them, and the information they contain, exposing themselves to data loss, heavy financial penalties and costly regulatory noncompliance. (HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley come to mind.)

Most trolls and hackers aren’t looking to hijack equipment to broadcast radical views. They want to steal data.

While encryption, firewalls and remote access safeguards are crucial to security, data-containing devices can’t be protected if they can’t be located. That’s why a sound asset management system must track assets from acquisition through end of life and equipment destruction. An accurate, reliable, affordable solution uses sensor technology such as RFID to automatically identify and locate at-risk assets.

 

RFID in the ER

Swiftsure GroupMay 31, 2016 – The results are back for the Mayo Clinic emergency department’s passive RFID-based resource management system.

The solution boosted operational efficiency while improving workflow and patient care at the St. Marys Hospital ER, the clinic’s largest. The solution uses passive radio frequency identification technology to track equipment, patients and providers. 

The Mayo Clinic recently published its assessment of the RFID project, which was fully integrated into the ER in Q4, 2015. (Read the Harvard Business Review article here.)

medical equipment

RFID-based location systems track equipment and people

The clinic turned the ER into a living lab to learn about the system’s effectiveness and impact. An array of overhead readers collects data from RFID chips in wearables and tags to create a real-time location system (RTLS).

The clinic used an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental approach to designing and implementing the solution – a critical step in planning and deploying any successful resource management system.

How RFID checked out

ER staff showed some resistance to being tracked – a common reaction among workers concerned about surveillance and its possible misuse, such as in job reviews. Worries about privacy faded with reassurance that data would not be used against personnel and that the system was, in fact, a tool to help them perform their duties and provide better care.

Most patients, on the other hand, did not express concern about being tracked, with most already assuming they were.

Many trials and real-life implementations have shown that RFID has no affect on devices or overhead communications systems. The clinic’s testing confirmed that the technology did not interfere with ECG machines, monitors or other equipment, and did not disrupt communications.

Among the RFID system’s benefits were:

  • Reduced search time for staff, patients and equipment
  • Better data capture of CMS-reported metrics, such as wait times and length of stay
  • Retrospective mapping of adverse events
  • Identification of system constraints in patient flow and equipment location
  • Integration with existing IT systems

The RFID initiative’s team included doctors, nurses, scientists, engineers and IT personnel. It gained input from all stakeholders invested in change management, risk mitigation, compliance and process improvement – from HR and clinical practice to legal and compliance.

This year the Mayo Clinic plans to use the system to automate reporting to government agencies, and to trace staff exposed to infectious diseases. It also hopes to expand it to general hospital use.

Virtual RTLS is a healthy option

RTLS can be complex and costly. With hospitals operating on thin margins, these systems are often difficult to justify from the perspective of return on investment.

The Swiftsure Group integrates industry-leading hardware and software

Strategically placed RFID portals provide virtual RTL of equipment containing ePHI

In less frenetic hospital environments, an affordable, effective virtual RTLS can achieve a healthy ROI. It uses passive UHF readers at select read points to track equipment and people to specified locations – instead of continuously tracking actual movement.

Virtual RTLS provides automatic equipment identification with tag data containing a universal ID (UID) for use within and between departmental information management systems. It also collects high-quality data for CMS and helps providers comply with Joint Commission and HIPAA regulations regarding equipment cleaning, maintenance and status.

A virtual RTLS using passive RFID automates data collection and improves risk mitigation by tracking and managing the full lifecycle of assets that contain sensitive electronic protected health information (PHI or ePHI).

Whether opting for an RTL system or a virtual RTL solution, healthcare organizations can avoid costly missteps and obtain better results if they first consult a systems integrator with expertise in RFID-based asset and workflow management.

Utah Transit All Aboard with RFID Solution

swiftsure

July 30, 2015 –

The Utah Transit Authority is moving full steam ahead with deployment of an RFID-based automated data collection and asset management solution to track and conduct predictive maintenance on its revenue service vehicles.

The expansion follows a successful pilot project of the technology, which uses passive UHF RFID tags, antenna arrays, readers and software to capture information and generate reports about vehicle and equipment use. Its first phase will include all UTA TRAX light rail cars – a fleet expected to grow to 146 in 2015 – and their components.

Swiftsure’s Bruno Riegl tests read rates of RFID tags on passing UTA rail cars

Systems integrator Swiftsure Group helped UTA implement and manage the pilot, with four light rail cars passing through an RFID read zone at the agency’s Jordan River Service Center maintenance yard in Salt Lake City. Each Siemens S70 light rail car has at least 20 tagged components, from gear and pantograph controller boxes to couplers and traction motors.

RFID gets real for rail         

UTA next wants to tag its 75 commuter-rail vehicles – and up to 35 items on each – as well as its 700 buses and 400 vans. It expects to use about 2,500 tags by the end of this year.

The system enables UTA to conduct maintenance on vehicles and equipment based on actual use instead of preset schedules that unnecessarily remove equipment from revenue service. It also helps UTA meet federal mandates to monitor the condition of and make timely repairs to railcars and equipment components, reducing breakdowns and ensuring efficient, safe operations.

The solution provides UTA a platform to track the health of components by associating life miles, life hours and rebuild history throughout the useful life of equipment. By incorporating this previously unavailable data into its asset management model, UTA can perform asset lifecycle analytics.

RFID on a roll

UTA installed RFID read zones at the entrance to its main railcar service facility so the authority could identify specific vehicles and critical components to track usage cycles. Each zone has a

RFID antenna and reader array at UTA

RFID antenna and reader array at UTA

set of RFID antennas installed on a signal gantry to read roof-mounted equipment, and a set of between-the-rail antennas reading tags on equipment installed on the underside of vehicles. Data collected at each read zone is transmitted to a dedicated UTA server hosting resource management software, which records and links the information to event notification modules. (For more information, read the recent article about the UTA project in RFID Journal.

The pilot showed that passive RFID tags attached to equipment had a 100% read rate as they traveled at 15 mph through the read zone. It also demonstrated that the system boosted accuracy of asset auditing, reduced man hours, lowered labor costs and freed staff for other tasks. In addition, the system lets UTA optimize spare parts stocking by eliminating the need to overstock for unexpected repair and maintenance, and allowing parts to be ordered as needs are anticipated.

About the Swiftsure Group

Since 1998 the Swiftsure Group has provided an independent perspective on planning and implementation of operations process improvement. The company’s RFID and system integration experts combine best practices in inventory, asset and resource management to improve asset lifecycle and inventory management for clients worldwide.

Verephi turns medical workstations into rolling inventory takers

June 30, 2015 – Conducting equipment inventory is a costly, distracting, ongoing challenge for healthcare providers. Swiftsure’s partner Verephi now makes it simple and affordable to perform 24×7 automatic, accurate, timely inventory verification using its RFID-based workstation solution. Verephi unveiled its system at the recent AAMI expo, where it gained fans among the record crowd of 2,032 healthcare technology professionals.

Workstations become automatic inventory takers

Workstations become automatic inventory takers

Inventory the automatic way

Healthcare workers use stationary and mobile workstations all the time. Verephi retrofits them with RFID technology, turning them into inventory taking machines that automatically collect high-quality data for input into CMMS. IT departments don’t have to do a thing. Clinicians don’t have to lift a finger. They don’t even have to give it a thought as the solution works invisibly in the background. So it doesn’t require any time, effort, distraction, disruption in care or disturbance to patients.

Workstations with Verephi’s solution have RFID readers that collect and temporarily store information about critical or high-value equipment. Data is buffered locally in a storage device on workstations and uploaded either wirelessly or by a periodic connection to the network, depending on service providers’ requirements and procedures.

More accurate than barcode, more affordable than RTLS

Verephi launches automatic inventory solution

Verephi launches inventory solution at AAMI

Verephi’s solution uses low cost, passive, standards-based RFID tags on equipment that retrofitted diagnostic carts and workstations can read to collect and record information, in patients’ rooms and in hallways. Verephi also offers new carts, workstations and stationary portals that collect inventory data and alert personnel to such issues as improper device disposal and maintenance history and requirements.

Many healthcare providers have tried barcode technology to capture equipment information. But barcode requires line of sight, leaving gaps as labels are overlooked, and is prone to human error. It requires staff time, often relying on clinicians who have much more crucial tasks than taking inventory.

Healthcare organizations have also found that RTLS technology is expensive and complex to implement. It consumes IT resources and needs network support as well as IT department buy-in, particularly when RTLS systems incorporate backend data management applications that overlap or necessitate replacing existing CMMS. It uses expensive active RFID tags that themselves have to be monitored for battery life and replacement, with lapses causing data collection failure.

Simple, low-cost, high-quality data collection

Verephi’s passive RFID solution provides inventory updates without requiring any significant infrastructure build-out or modification. It avoids issues endemic to often elusive, headache-inducing interoperability. Verephi’s system also provides information such as cleaning and calibration dates, cleaning methods used and upcoming maintenance dates of critical and high-value equipment. It reports the data to clinical engineering and verifies it for CMMS.

Verephi system collects high-quality data automatically

Verephi’s low-cost system collects high-quality data

Equipment inventory verification – not an elective procedure

Timely, accurate inventory verification is required for financial, operational, safety and regulatory compliance. The process is a daunting challenge for healthcare providers, especially since so many assets are mobile and their locations not predictable. They often transmit and store electronic protected health information (ePHI) that must be secured. Verephi’s RFID-based workstation system is the low cost, simple solution for high quality, accurate, timely equipment inventory verification.

For more information please visit Verephi.

Swiftsure Partner Verephi Exhibits at Major Healthcare Expo

June 6, 2015 –

It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your endoscope is?

If you’re on the receiving end of medical treatment – or are a healthcare provider – the effective management of equipment and devices that contain patient data is crucial. Swiftsure’s partner Verephi is at the AAMI Conference & Expo in Denver to launch its RFID-based solutions that help secure electronic protected healthcare information (ePHI) and ensure equipment maintenance.

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation event is expected to draw more than 1,800 healthcare technology management professionals and over 200 equipment vendors to the Colorado Convention Center June 6-8.

Verephi is at booth 248 to demo its solutions that inventory, monitor and secure ePHI-containing devices – think scanners, pumps, faxes and tablets – and ensure authentication of equipment maintenance data. Its integrated software and automatic data capture system improves operating efficiencies, boosts safety related to equipment tracking, cleaning and service maintenance, assists with regulatory compliance and mitigates financial risk.

Verephi makes data capture simple and secure

At the expo Verephi is showing its solutions that write equipment maintenance records into passive RFID tags attached to medical services devices. The tags can also include unique equipment identifiers (UDI).

Verephi’s method of locally storing maintenance records on equipment means that a device’s history of usage and servicing can be retrieved at any time using a handheld or fixed-location RFID reader.

The system also alerts users about devices’ compliance status and makes sure that maintenance records are never disassociated from the devices. Verephi’s technology helps prevent use of non-compliant equipment that can compromise health delivery through failure or contamination and reduce lapses in securing devices that capture, store or transmit ePHI – problems that often lead to severe financial penalties.

Unlike RTLS solutions, which can be cumbersome, complex, expensive and draining on network resources, Verephi’s system is a simple, affordable way to conduct activities necessary to meet HIPAA and Joint Commission mandates.

Verephi is a member of AAMI.

Swiftsure’s view from the floor of HIMSS

swiftsureMay 12, 2015 – Everything about HIMSS 2015 was huge. More than 1,100 vendors. Over 43,00 healthcare industry professionals teeming through three million square feet of exhibition space in Chicago. There were also big ideas about hot healthcare topics, from information and data management, analytics and patient engagement to population health, mobile healthcare, interoperability and security.

Complex problems can have simpler solutions

Big sometimes seems overwhelming, especially when it comes to managing patient and equipment data to mitigate risk and comply with HIPAA and Joint Commission mandates. Flashy booths and whiz-bang apps grab the eye and imagination. But organizations often overlook relatively simple, user friendly, cost effective solutions to secure ePHI and ensure equipment maintenance for compliance and security.

True interoperability remains elusive, and maintaining consolidated databases to track and monitor equipment requires the buy-in and cooperation of diverse stakeholders with often differing objectives and priorities. These dynamics can lead to prolonged and fragmented implementation, leaving lapses that endanger patients and cause costly fines from failed OCR audits.

The Swiftsure Group, a systems integrator specializing in RFID automated data capture and advanced asset management, takes a different approach. Protecting ePHI requires first locating, tracking and managing information about devices that capture, store or transmit sensitive data. Pumps, printers, tablets, phones. If organizations don’t know where devices are – stranded in a storage closet, discarded in a former employee’s office – they can’t possibly secure them or their data.

HIMSS demo – for dummies

To help organizations get a real handle on ePHI security and equipment management, Swiftsure has partnered with Verephi, whose team has helped healthcare organizations around the world track and manage physical assets since 2003.

Services include equipment audit and verification that are crucial to assessing risks to and safeguarding ePHI. Using automated data capture technology, Verephi also offers systems that enable healthcare providers to monitor and validate equipment sanitation and maintenance histories.

Here’s how it works. Instead of relying on centralized databases to track ePHI-containing equipment and maintenance records, the records themselves accompany each device on an attached RFID tag in an electronic format that can be easily retrieved. Each tag contains up-to-date usage and maintenance records such as time and type of cleaning, recalibration dates and scheduled maintenance.

For audits or identification of potentially contaminated equipment, a low cost handheld RFID reader retrieves data directly from the equipment. Fixed location readers at cleaning or equipment storage rooms identify equipments’ compliance with maintenance schedules to ensure that non-compliant equipment is not used. Alerts notify clinicians about milestones and missed deadlines.

While a number of HIMSS vendors touted RTLS systems for managing equipment, the cost and complexity of deployment – and unsolved issues with interoperability – make them unattractive compared to the passive off-the-shelf UHF solutions with automated, local equipment information storage solutions that Swiftsure recommends.

For more information contact Swiftsure or visit Verephi.

Swiftsure part of mega healthcare event

swiftsureApril 10, 2015 – The Swiftsure Group will be among more than 38,000 healthcare IT professionals, clinicians, executives and vendors convening in Chicago April 12-16 for the HIMSS15 exhibition, the world’s largest and most important healthcare IT trade show.

Swiftsure, a systems integrator specializing in RFID automatic data capture and advanced asset management, has joined with partner Verephi to provide healthcare risk mitigation services and solutions. Its mobile automatic data collection system, equipment maintenance platform and ePHI security audits help organizations comply with HIPAA and JCAHO regulations. That means increased efficiency and security, reduced risk and cost, and improved patient care.

HIMSS, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, is a global not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology. Its annual exhibition showcases the newest health IT technologies, trends and solutions. Learn more about HIMSS15.

Swiftsure Group helps Utah transit get rolling with RFID

Antennas and readers capture data about UTA’s RFID-tagged light rail cars and equipment

swiftsureMarch 3, 2015 – The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has completed a successful predictive maintenance pilot project for its TRAX light rail system using an RFID-based automated asset management solution. It allows UTA to establish a maintenance schedule based on actual use instead of preset times that unnecessarily remove equipment from revenue service.

The system, deployed at UTA’s Jordan River Service Center in Salt Lake City, also helps UTA meet federal mandates to monitor the condition of and make timely repairs to railcars and equipment components, reducing breakdowns and ensuring efficient, safe operations.

Within two months the pilot proved that passive RFID tags attached to equipment had a 100% read rate as they traveled at 15 mph through a read zone with an array of RFID antennas and readers. Data collected at each read zone is transmitted to a dedicated UTA server hosting resource management software, where the information is recorded and linked to event notification modules for predictive maintenance.

The pilot program also showed the system boosted accuracy of asset auditing, with an error rate of less than .05% compared to 29% when conducted manually. The automated process reduced man hours, lowering labor costs and freeing staff for other tasks. In addition, the system lets UTA optimize spare parts stocking by eliminating the need to overstock for unexpected repair and maintenance, and allowing parts to be ordered as needs are anticipated.

Bruno Riegl, chief executive of the Swiftsure Group, project managed the program, which uses a system of portals, antennas, readers and RID-based asset management software. Data collected at each read zone is transmitted to a dedicated UTA server hosting the resource management software, which records and links the information to event notification modules.

Kyle Stockley, UTA’s Transit Asset Administrator

Kyle Stockley, UTA’s Transit Asset Administrator, led the cross-functional team that oversaw system selection, design and implementation. “UTA has broken new ground in the public transit industry by linking asset management and maintenance over the life of its assets,” Stockley said. “Tracking major components installed on light rail vehicles will lead to predictive maintenance activities and more accurate useful life projections, which will lower overall cost of ownership for our agency, in turn providing better value to the community we serve.”

UTA installed RFID read zones at the entrance to its main railcar service facility so the authority could identify specific vehicles and critical components to track usage cycles for maintenance. Each zone has a set of RFID antennas installed on a signal gantry to read roof mounted equipment, and a set of between-the-rail antennas reading tags on equipment installed on the underside of vehicles. Data collected at each read zone is transmitted to a dedicated UTA server hosting resource management software, which records and links the information to event notification modules.

The solution provides UTA a platform to track the health of components by associating life miles, life hours and rebuild history throughout the useful life of equipment. By incorporating this previously unavailable data into its asset management model, UTA can perform predictive maintenance and asset lifecycle analytics.

UTA, which runs more than 225 rail cars and engines and 1,000 surface vehicles, was recognized as the outstanding large city transit system in 2014 by the American Public Transportation Association System.

Since 1998 the Swiftsure Group has provided an independent perspective on planning and implementation of operations process improvement. Its consultants are RFID and system integration experts who combine best practices in inventory, asset and resource management to improve asset lifecycle and inventory management for clients worldwide.

xArray on its way for wide-area inventory

swiftsureNov. 21, 2014 – Impinj announced the full commercial availability of its xArray gateway, which the Seattle-based RFID company says ushers in a new era of always-on, real-time, fixed infrastructure RFID reader technology. The xArray gateway is designed for large-scale, item-level applications in retail, healthcare and manufacturing.

Real time location systems (RTLS) have previously relied on expensive, battery-powered active tags, proprietary protocols and multiple readers to locate, identify and authenticate UHF-tagged items and people.

A single ceiling-mounted xArray reader, with an integrated antenna and software, can visualize 1,500 sq. ft. of floor space to automatically collect inventory data. “That’s a mammoth footprint,” said Bruno Riegl, chief executive of the Swiftsure Group, an Impinj channel partner. “The ability to use this relatively inexpensive passive RFID gateway to accomplish virtual RTLS is a great leap forward for resource and workflow management. We look forward to integrating the xArray in a variety of deployments in many environments.”

A select group of organizations has already implemented the xArray system. (In February Swiftsure posted about Impinj’s lab, where xArray was still in testing.) Impinj now has more than 30 certified partners around the world.

Read Impinj’s press release.

Automated monitoring reduces infections

swiftsureNov. 17, 2014 – A new study shows that hospital workers wash their hands less frequently as their workday progresses, a finding that underscores the need for RFID-based monitoring to  boost compliance, reduce infections and saves lives while lowering costs.

The study, conducted by the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, analyzed three years of hand-washing data from 4,157 caregivers in 35 U.S. hospitals. Researchers found that hand-washing compliance rates dropped an average of 8.7 percentage points from the beginning to the end of a typical 12-hour shift. The decline in compliance was magnified by increased work load.

“Just as the repeated exercise of muscles leads to physical fatigue, repeated use of executive resources (cognitive resources that allow people to control their behaviors, desires and emotions) produces a decline in an individual’s self-regulatory capacity,” researchers found.

“Demanding jobs have the potential to energize employees, but the pressure may make them focus more on maintaining performance on their primary tasks (e.g., patient assessment, medication distribution), particularly when they are fatigued,” lead researcher Hengchen Dail noted. “For hospital caregivers, hand washing may be viewed as a lower-priority task and thus it appears compliance with hand hygiene guidelines suffers as the workday progresses.”

Hand washing in hospitals and clinics reduces infections, including from multidrug-resistant organisms such as E. coli, pneumonia and MRSA, and saves money. A 2000 study of Swiss hospitals found that a 1 percentage point increase in hand-washing compliance reduced the number of infections by 3.9 per 1,000 patients. Another 2009 study estimated that the cost per patient with a health care-acquired infection is $20,549.hand washing

Extrapolating their findings to all 5,723 US hospitals, Dail and her team estimated there would be an additional 600,000 infections per year at a cost of approximately $12.5 billion.

RFID-based hand hygiene solutions monitor whether health care workers adhere to protocols by washing/sanitizing their hands within specified time limits when entering or leaving patients’  rooms. Some systems use devices attached to hand soap and sanitizer dispensers that read caregivers’ RFID badges, collecting data about each hand-washing event – the dispenser location, length of action, type of sanitizer – to a software application that ties into a facility’s broader infrastructure of servers and databases. Each event is associated with a unit, floor or individual so that administrators and personnel can view compliance reports and dashboards.

An RFID hand-hygiene solution can be a standalone system or part of a real-time location system (RTLS) to track assets and monitor patients. It can be deployed throughout a hospital or one unit at a time depending on a facility’s infrastructure, taking into consideration interference, data storage capacity and budget.

A trial of RFID-enabled hand-washing stations has allowed supervisors at OhioHealth’s Riverside Methodist Hospital to view usage and take steps to promote compliance, while personnel can view their own performance as well as their colleagues’. The hospital will be a presenter at RFID in Health Care, an exhibit sponsored by RFID Journal on Thursday, Nov. 20.

Riverside Methodist’s system enables nurse managers to identify whether a worker has complied with hand-hygiene requirements. To encourage compliance, the hospital posts the rates at which health-care personnel washed their hands as expected, enabling them to compare their own compliance rates against those of their colleagues.

Read more about the study, which suggested that longer breaks might help healthcare workers increase their hand hygiene compliance.

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The Swiftsure Group offers integrated solutions for regulatory compliance, operational efficiency, enhanced security and audit support across many sectors, including healthcare, financial services, education and transportation.

RFID Keeps Predictive Railcar Maintenance on Track

Nov. 10, 2014 – Railroads have used RFID to track cars and equipment for decades. Now rail operators, from Class 1 to regional light rail, can use advanced RFID solutions to track equipment usage and condition for predictive maintenance by automating information capture related to critical components.

The Swiftsure Group, a systems integrator specializing in RFID-based resource management, has found that this predictive approach improves service reliability by avoiding unscheduled stoppages and delays from equipment malfunctions and breakdowns.

Light rail gets on board with RFID for predictive maintenance

“It’s crucial for transportation companies to maintain efficient operations and maximize uptime,” said Swiftsure’s Bruno Riegl. “Protecting revenue streams by preventing service interruption is of paramount importance to commuter and light rail passenger service operators.”

Successful preventative maintenance requires diligent planning and implementation procedures. Historically, it has been achieved through scheduling regular equipment inspections and maintaining surplus spares and replacement parts – practices that can be expensive in terms of labor and idle capital. Inspecting equipment on a fixed schedule also doesn’t address how frequently equipment is used and whether it is subjected to accelerated depreciation or wear and tear.

Getting up to speed with RFID

Though using RFID-based automatic equipment identification (AEI) has become standard practice, RFID is generally underutilized by railcar operators in the broader management of resources, spare parts and ancillary equipment.

Automating the identification of equipment that is due for service or replacement, coupled with event management and notification software, can improve operational reliability while reducing labor costs associated with employees having to manually locate and identify equipment within service yards. At the same time, integrated equipment identification and notification solutions enable rail operators to carry fewer spares and link parts reorder to anticipated equipment replacement and refurbishment cycles.

Predictive maintenance helps build ridership and revenues

For light rail and regional commuter train operators with relatively small fleets and compact service facilities, RFID is an affordable, efficiency-enhancing technology that yields a quick ROI with relatively easy implementation.

RFID identification equipment can be placed at choke points such as service yard entrances, where RFID tagged railcars and attached equipment can be automatically identified as they pass RFID readers. The information is then sent either wirelessly or via Ethernet links to backend information management systems. Equipment usage can be tracked and associated with activities such as miles travelled and frequency of equipment in-service time. In response to this information, the railcar operator can establish service scheduling, parts replacement and refurbishment according to actual usage instead of to fixed time schedules that may not reflect actual equipment service needs.

Real-time resource management for rail

Building intelligent operations systems incorporating RFID therefore enhances rail operators’ performance by ensuring that equipment servicing is done only when necessary based on predictive needs, lowers labor costs by automating equipment location and improves operating efficiencies by lessening the chances of equipment failure during normal operations.

Conditions-based monitoring systems provide railcar operators with real-time intelligence and analysis of the health of their rolling stock, and can be extended to other operational functions such as optimizing the level of spare parts and consumable inventory by linking actual equipment usage to predictive replacement schedules based on analysis of real-time equipment usage cycles.

Railroads worldwide have been at the forefront in harnessing the potential of RFID for fleet management to track rail cars and motive power. In the US, the Burlington Northern conducted the first serious testing of RFID applications for railroads in 1986, which showed 99.99% accuracy of railcar tracking over an extended trial period. Subsequent testing by other railroads such as Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Canadian National led to the adoption of AEI standards by the American Association of Railroads in the early nineties.

RAIN sees bright future for RFID

Oct. 8, 2014 – RAIN, an alliance promoting UHF RFID, hosted 50 attendees at its first members meeting. The September event featured presentations by international industry leaders, including several Swiftsure Group partners. Among speakers were Steve Schattmaier with Tyco, Impinj’s Chris Diorio and several Intel innovators.

“Smart tags can do much more than provide inventory control,” said Dr. Frank Honoré, of Google X. “A rapidly growing use of UHF RFID is as a platform for embedded sensors. Some examples are bio-medical sensing, infrastructure monitoring, agriculture and environmental tracking and detection. Cloud infrastructure will enable rapid development and deployment of large scale applications. An ecosystem of consumers interacting with tags in their environment will drive innovative new uses for UHF RFID.”

Learn what other presenters had to say.

RAIN was formed by Google, Intel, Impinj, and Smartrac in April to promote awareness, education, and initiatives to accelerate UHF RFID adoption in business and consumer applications.

 

Registration open for RFID Journal Live! 2015

swiftsureSept. 24, 2014 – Registration Now Open for the World’s Largest RFID Event–RFID Journal LIVE!

RFID Journal’s thirteenth annual LIVE! event will be held on April 15-17, 2015, in San Diego, California, and will feature more than 50 case studies presented by leading end users, as well as solutions from more than 175 technology companies.

NEW YORK, Sept. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — RFID Journal announced today that registration is now open for RFID Journal LIVE! 2015 (www.rfidjournalevents.com/live), the world’s premier conference and exhibition focused on radio frequency identification (RFID) and its many business applications. Motorola will be the cornerstone and registration sponsor for this year’s event, which is celebrating its thirteenth year as the industry’s flagship convention.

LIVE! 2015 will be held on April 15-17, at the San Diego Convention Center, located in San Diego, California. The event will feature four industry-specific and four level-of-expertise conference tracks, as well as eight in-depth preconference seminars and workshops, fast-track training presented by RFID4U, the RFID Journal Awards and two co-located events—the Internet of Things Conference and IEEE RFID 2015. In addition, the conference will offer exhibits and demonstrations conducted by the industry’s leading technology firms.

The conference tracks will cover defense and aerospace, health care and pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail and apparel and technology and infrastructure, as well as new and innovative uses of RFID, how to enhance visibility and traceability and how to improve supply chain and logistics. The preconference seminars will provide in-depth education in such areas as RFID in energy, mining and construction, RFID for IT professionals, RFID for warehouse and inventory management and RFID-enabled smart products, and will also include RFID Journal University, the company’s most popular preconference. Additional preconferences will focus on innovating with Near Field Communication (NFC), item-level retail and apparel and experiential marketing with RFID.

“RFID technology has matured to the point at which it is being used in every industry and in every country around the world,” said Mark Roberti, RFID Journal’s founder and editor. “If you have a problem tracking and managing anything—from frozen tissue samples to hot rolled steel—you will likely find an RFID solution at LIVE! 2015.”

Attendees registering early will have the opportunity to save more than $500 off regular rates for the RFID industry’s most important conference and exhibition. For additional information regarding LIVE! 2015, please visit www.rfidjournalevents.com/live.

About RFID Journal
RFID Journal is the leading source of news and information regarding radio frequency identification (RFID) and its many business applications. Business executives and implementers depend on RFID Journal for up-to-the-minute RFID news, in-depth case studies, best practices, strategic insights and information about vendor solutions. This has made RFID Journal the most relied-upon and respected RFID information resource, serving the largest audience of RFID decision makers worldwide—online and at face-to-face events. For more information, visit www.rfidjournal.com.

For more information, contact:
Sonja Valenta
VP of Marketing
RFID Journal
(212) 584-9400
Email

SOURCE RFID Journal

 

 

 

Happy 40th, barcode!

swiftsureJuly 1, 2014 – June 26 was barcode’s big day. Forty years ago an Ohio grocery store scanned a tagged pack of Wrigley’s gum, making it the first time a barcode using modern UPC standards was used in a retail transaction. In 1974 that barcode cost more than the pack of Juicy Fruit.

Barcode and asset tracking have come a long way since then, with RFID enabling affordable, sophisticated automated data capture solutions used for everything from conducting inventory and tracking supplies and equipment to providing access control for people and vehicles.

Automated data capture and asset management technologies increase accuracy and efficiency as well as reduce costs at libraries, hospitals, airports, universities, manufacturers, event venues and public and private organizations. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be “seen” out of line-of-sight, and hundreds of items can be read at the same time using fixed location or handheld readers.

“RFID in the supply chain provides many opportunities for improving supply chain operations,” Pedro Reyes, an RFID expert and author, said on Baylor University’s Web site. “Visibility of inventory throughout the channel is improved and processes are performed faster. Thus, there’s great potential for lead time reduction and reduction in uncertainty.” Reyes is associate professor of operations and supply chain management in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business and director of the Center for Excellence in Supply Chain Management.

What’s ahead for barcode and RFID technology? “When we look to the future, the future is really limitless,” Ryan Eickmeier, senior director of marketing, communications and government relations at GS1, told the CBC News Network. GS1 is the nonprofit group that designs and manages global supply chain standards.

Happy anniversary, barcode!