In recent years, RFID has been used to modernize and improve laundry management. RFID–enabled laundry applications are being used in hotels, casinos, government offices, hospitals, schools, professional sports, and other institutions that deal in employee uniforms, garments, and linens. The benefits of implementing an RFID-enabled laundry system range from streamlining processes to eliminating inventory errors, decreasing manual labor, improving energy and water efficiency, and even reducing the spreading of disease. All of these benefits have a direct, positive impact the bottom line, which is often the case with enabling a process with RFID.
However, it’s not just the use of RFID in general that improves laundry management. It’s very specific capabilities that have been designed into in RFID tags and readers, and the manner in which they operate with one another that make this use of RFID truly innovative.
The RFID tags used in laundry management need to be able to withstand water immersion, extreme heat, pressure and chemicals. On the flip side, RFID readers need to be able to read tags simultaneously for clothing or other items that may be stacked or in piles. As the technology has evolved, UHF RFID solutions are beginning to replace other RF and proprietary technologies in this space (we are also seeing the same thing in waste management, tolling, access control, and other markets and applications). UHF has proved to be ideal for laundry management because, not only can it be used to identify and locate hundreds of items per second, but it also has the added benefit of reading items from greater distances.
For organizations that need to track their garment inventory in large batches, UHF technology allows them to eliminate the less efficient practice of single-piece barcode or proprietary tag scans. Further, they can eliminate or reduce the number of expensive, dedicated read stations which can lead to added time-saving and cost reduction benefits. If a business doesn’t have a laundry facility on-site, the laundry is shipped elsewhere to be cleaned and sorted, which makes the management piece a little more challenging. If the laundry is done off-site, the implementation of RFID portals and use of tag directionality features can play a big role. It can be used to tell if the items are leaving or arriving for better inventory precision. Points of loss can be identified so that any necessary corrections can be made to prevent similar situations in the future.