Toshiba TEC and Nordic Plus make life easier with RFID technology

Toshiba TEC and Nordic Plus make life easier with RFID technology

The way that products get to market is changing rapidly and at the very forefront of this transformation is a technology that was once limited to tracking cattle, railroad cars and airline luggage. Radio frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to transfer data and is now being used to automatically identify and track labels in a variety of applications. 

RFID labels represent a significant improvement over traditional barcodes because they have read and write capabilities, and therefore the data stored on them can be changed, updated and locked. Barcodes only contain general product information and can only be read one at a time by line of sight. However, RFID offers much more and within the retail sector it enables full traceability of individual products from their manufacturing source all the way through the distribution chain to point of sale.

An RFID reader can automatically identify smart labels that contain electronically stored information and, in addition, multiple labels can be read in one go. Each RFID label also contains unique information about that individual product and its provenance.

One company that is spearheading this retail revolution is Nordic Plus. With over 20 years of world class technical expertise and experience, it offers a consultative and value added partnership that ensures that the RFID solution provided is designed and then managed to deliver optimum levels of service.

‘Retail RFID is growing fast in the UK and we now work with a diverse range of clients that all want to take full advantage of the benefits that RFID technology can provide,’ comments Mark Tailford, Managing Director at Nordic Plus. ‘We offer best in class technology in both fixed and hand-held RFID readers, a sophisticated software integration solution and we also have access to a wide range of suitable RFID labels. This is all backed with our dedicated support team that is the central point of all of our support service operations and gives access to Nordic Plus’s industry leading consultants, engineers and project delivery teams.’

To give existing and potential customers the opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ with the technology, Nordic Plus has invested in a new demonstration suite – known as The RFID Hut – at its Stratford Upon Avon headquarters. It shows all the different ways that RFID can be used, from the warehouse and the supply chain sides right through to the shop floor, taking the customer on a complete RFID journey.

It's a journey that starts with the initial production and encoding of the RFID label, using a state-of-the-art B-EX4T1 RFID enabled printer from Toshiba TEC UK Imaging Systems Ltd. Becky Viccars, the company’s Marketing Manager for Auto-ID Products, says, ‘At lower than 9W in stand-by, the B-EX4T1 is the leading ecological industrial printer. With a speed of 14ips, Ethernet and USB 2.0 are standard, along with options for parallel, serial and wireless LAN. It also features our innovative ribbon saving technology, which can dramatically reduce ribbon usage in most applications – specifically those with large amount of dead space between print areas on the label.’

The B-EX4T1 is perfectly positioned to print the labels that are set to change the retail experience for outlets and customers alike. Mark Tailford explains, ‘The B-EX4T1 is a great place to start the story at The RFID Hut. The accuracy of the printed labels is vital and additional features such as QR codes can also be located on the same label, so that customers can get more information or take an order online. These features, along with the quality, reliability and robust design of the product, ensure that the full potential of RFID technology can be demonstrated.’

Ask any retail customer what their biggest bugbear is and the chances are that long checkout lines will be near the top of the list. Soon, however, these queues could disappear thanks to RFID smart labels.

It sounds too good to be true, but in this case it isn’t, and it will be perfectly possible for customers to fill up a shopping trolley without having to wait while someone rings up each item one at a time – instead, RFID labels will communicate with an electronic reader that will detect every item in the cart and ring each up almost instantly. The reader will be connected to a network that will send information on purchased products to the retailer, supply chain and product manufacturers.

But before getting to that point, RFID labels offer huge benefits for the retailer. Mark Tailford says, ‘The key advantage here concerns better stock visibility and accountability, especially between the warehouse and the shop floor. Some stores that are currently using RFID labels have also found that the technology offers a better way to track merchandise for marketing purposes, as they can see how quickly the products leave the shelves and which shoppers are buying them.’

It means that they can replenish specific stock, eliminate poor selling lines and generally make more informed choices about the products sold. It’s even possible to monitor which products are in changing rooms and can assist with cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. This all adds up to providing an enhanced customer experience, while also saving time, money and effort.

Becky Viccars of Toshiba TEC concludes, ‘RFID technology is incredibly exciting and the work that Nordic Plus has already done on behalf of its clients highlights how it can be specifically tailored to the needs of a particular business. We are delighted to have our B-EX4T1 RFID enabled printer featured at The RFID Hut, where lots more organisations will be able to get a real appreciation of what RFID technology can offer.’

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About Us

Toshiba TEC UK is part of the globally operating Toshiba Corporation, active in various high-tech industrial sectors. Toshiba TEC is a leading supplier of information technology and office equipment products ranging from printers and multifunctional systems (both colour and monochrome), to faxes and digital document management products. The range is completed by barcode / label printers for various capabilities in industry, logistics and trade as well as in the public health and service sectors.