Timing Is Right for Watchmaker’s Blockchain, NFC

Keyword:  Internet of Things,  Inventory / Warehouse Management,  Manufacturing,  NFC,  Retail
Posted on 22th Oct,2018 By Amos

Favre-Leuba is bringing NFC-based data about each of its watches to blockchain-based software, thanks to a solution from cybersecurity technology company WiseKey that tracks inventory and provides brand authentication and a personalized record of each purchased watch for consumers

Swiss watch maker Favre-Leuba is launching a blockchain-based solution to track the authenticity of its products after sales, using data captured via Near Field Communication (NFC) reads. By capturing NFC-based data on blockchain-based software, the company can thus maintain a record of which watch was sold, when and where this occurred, and to whom, as well as any follow-up maintenance or services. This information can then be shared with watch owners.

The company’s NFC technology use began two years ago, while the addition of the blockchain platform begins this year. The NFC and blockchain solution, known as WiseAuthentic Blockchain, was provided by WiseKey International Holding, an Internet of Things (IoT) cross-industry, cybersecurity platform company that provides solutions to the watch industry. Favre-Leuba launched the system with NFC tags built into warranty cards, as well as an app for capturing and managing the collected data, as a way to activate each watch’s warranty and track sales. Now, two years later, the system will use blockchain to create a broader, immutable record of its watches long after they have been sold.

Favre-Leuba, the second oldest Swiss watch brand, is headquartered in the city of Zug. Several centuries ago, the firm was a pioneer in watch design and manufacturing. These days, it is looking ahead to identify technology solutions for a 21st-century market, to ensure that its watches are authentic. The company began working with Wisekey two years ago. “We built our platform around identity management,” explains Carlos Moreno, WiseKey’s VP of corporate alliances and partnerships.

Swiss watches face two key challenges, according to Reema Vazirani, Favre-Leuba’s marketing manager: authentication and providing a watch history that extends beyond the sale. Traditionally, she says, tracking a watch’s history and value is a matter of paperwork. However, blockchain not only captures an unchangeable record of a watch’s history, but also makes that information available to others as needed.

Favre-Leuba’s watches are priced between 2,000 and 8,500 Swiss Francs ($2,010 and $8,543). “The purchase is dear to the customer,” Vazirani says. “Given this, we wanted to avail this opportunity of protecting the customer’s purchase right from the start.”

When a purchase is made, a store clerk removes the warranty card from the watch’s packaging, then scans its built-in NFC 13.56 MHz chip, which is compliant with the ISO 14443 standard and is made by Wisekey. Wise Authentication software prompts the employee to select the watch being sold.

The software stores a record of the watches sold at that location, based on shipments from the manufacturing site to the store, so that the selection of watches includes each individual watch and its serial number. Once a watch has been selected, the process links the WiseAuthentic ID stored and secured in the NFC tag to the specific product being purchased. At the same time, with the tag read at the point of sale, the watch’s authenticity becomes visible to both the retailer and the consumer. The technology company’s WiseAuthentic Platform softwarestores the transaction data for that watch on a blockchain ledger.

“Instead of just recording data into a database,” Moreno says, “we will record it into the blockchain infrastructure,” and share it with Favre-Leuba’s SAP management software. The shopper can then take the watch and warranty card home, after which he or she can access data by reading the NFC tag via an NFC-enabled smartphone. “Through the application,” he explains, “consumers will be able to check the pedigree, confirm authentication and manufacturing information.”

According to Moreno, the value of blockchain is that it creates a record that lasts long after a sale has been made. Since the watches are often used for decades—and, in some cases, increase in value as vintage products—a history of each watch sold is important to consumers. Without the NFC and blockchain data, Vazirani notes, information is limited. “While we do have some history that we can share,” she states, “it is not as rich as we wish for it to be. This digitization of this purchase information about the watch is a very helpful factor in this process.”

The watch company has already been noticing several benefits from the use of NFC to track sales, launch warranties and confirm authenticity, Vazirani reports. “Our partners, as well as our internal team members, receive complete transparency about the watch,” she says, “right from our warehouse to the final customer sale.”

With the addition of blockchain, Vazirani says, the system does more, such as enabling personalization for watch buyers. Once a consumer takes his or her new watch home, that person can access relevant data about the watch, such as a user manual and service information alerts. He or she can also track the watch’s maintenance history throughout the years.

The system also provides a mechanism to record if a watch is ever lost or stolen. A user could check the warranty card ID and update a watch as missing, and that record would make it traceable if the watch wound up in a seller’s hands. Favre-Leuba expects to continue updating the system as Wisekey makes new tools available.

RFID in the Supply Chain

Keyword:  Visibility,  Real-Time Inventory Tracking,  Higher accuracy
Posted on 11th Oct,2018 By Amos
As companies expand their operations, their supply chains grow with the company. The processes become more complex, which stresses the importance of accuracy at each link in the supply chain.

Restricted visibility along with inaccuracies can halt production and limit a company’s overall efficiency, so companies are looking for solutions to avoid any additional supply chain headaches. One solution that is gaining momentum is radio frequency identification (RFID).

According to TechTarget, RFID is a form of wireless communication that incorporates the use of electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object. The most common RFID application is for tracking and management. This includes inventory management, asset tracking, cargo and supply chain logistics and vehicle tracking. RFID can also be used in the supply chain for improved visibility and distribution.

RFID has been around since the 1940’s, but its technology could never quite find a practical application over time, so it’s usage tapered off. RFID is making a comeback because of the expanded technology around it. With companies using interconnected systems and pulling valuable information from those systems using analytics, RFID is coming back from the dead within supply chains because it improves visibility and inventory tracking.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how RFID is being used and how it is improving supply chains.

RFID Improves Visibility

RFID allows companies to track their supply chain workflow, which will provide more usable data with manufacturing equipment, inventory, asset management and company processes. When used properly, the data generated can help streamline these areas of the supply chain through automation. RFID can be integrated into company processes and be a major time saver. Instead of a certain process taking two hours, it may only take a matter of minutes.

Having the information generated from RFID integration at your fingertips allows for quicker, more informed decision making. This type of visibility allows processes to be fully automated, which will remove the element of human error. Warehouses and distribution centers who implement RFID systems into their processes take their inventory visibility and availability from 2 percent to 20 percent, according to Cybra.com.

Provides Real-Time Inventory Tracking

One of the greatest benefits of increased visibility is using the data generated with the help of RFID to cut costs. One example is real-time tracking that shows the most accurate inventory levels. With RFID, companies can see exactly how much of their products they have on hand. This type of real-time tracking gives them a better timeline of when to reorder to bolster inventory. It also helps them find the optimal inventory level so there is no excess product sitting on the shelves, wasting money for storage. While adjusting inventory levels may not seem like a profit driver, keeping proper inventory levels can help a company save between 20-30 percent on their warehousing and storage costs.

Retailers who have already implemented RFID into their processes are already seeing benefits. They are running into fewer issues of out-of-stock products and increasing the on-shelf availability of their products. RFID is able to scan each unique SKU number and identify differences in products, such as size, color, and style. With merchandise tagged with RFID, manufacturers can increase inventory count rates from 200 to 12,000+ items per hour. This type of visibility is giving retailers information on what is selling and what is sitting on their shelves for too long within minutes as opposed to days or weeks without RFID.

Higher Accuracy

When RFID is implemented into warehousing and storage systems, it usually results in a major improvement in product picking. According to Cybra.com, manufacturers and distributors who implemented RFID technology into their supply chain saw an 80 percent improvement in shipping and picking accuracy. This type of improvement saves companies a good amount of money as a result of fewer shipping and packing errors.

According to Bill Hardgrave, Dean of Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business and founder of the RFID Lab: “RFID increases inventory accuracy, from an average of 65 percent to more than 95 percent. And high inventory accuracy can lead to increased sales—but only if retailers use the data to improve their operations and processes. This is an important distinction and its key to the success of any RFID deployment.”

As supply chains are evolving, RFID is making waves by helping solve some supply chain issues while improving efficiency at the same time. RFID is improving visibility while generating more useful information, it is providing real-time inventory tracking and it is more accurate throughout multiple supply chain processes.

RFID Tracks Specialty Drugs Through Pharmaceutical Network

Keyword:  Health Care, Inventory/Warehouse Management, Pharmaceutical, Supply Chain, Visibility
Posted on 11th Sep,2018 By Amos

Asembia has deployed a UHF RFID-based solution to track the movement and status of specialty medications as they flow from the distribution center to pharmacies and to patients, thereby preventing the dispensing of expired products.

Aug 29, 2018—Asembia, a health-care service, contracting and technology company, is managing the inventory dating and expiration of its high-value medications using an RFIDsystem from Truecount Corp. Since launching the UHF RFID system this year, Asembia reports that both the organization’s distribution arm and its pharmacy members have been better able to manage the dating and expirations of inventory, and have thereby minimized product returns. Truecount had already created a simple, inexpensive way to date and track inventory or assets. Working with Asembia, Truecount adapted that system for seamless integration with Asembia’s inventory-management tools. Tag provider Charming Trim & Packagingprovided the UHF inlay labels that are attached to the pharmaceutical packaging. Asembia, headquartered in Florham Park, N.J., employed Trucount’s Simple RFID software solution.

Asembia’s Snehal Patel
Asembia was founded more than a decade ago to provide group purchasing and contracting services for new biologic medicines and other specialty drugs that aren’t dispensed at traditional pharmacies. These days, the company collaborates with its network of pharmacy members, as well as its manufacturer partners, prescribers, payers and other stakeholders to provide a full suite of services to the specialty pharmacy industry, including the targeted distribution of select drugs and medical devices.

The company has grown as the specialty pharmacy market has expanded with new and often expensive drug launches. Tracking the specialized distribution of these medications through its network of stakeholders can be complex. Many of these specialty medications have a relatively short shelf life. As a result, says Snehal Patel, Asembia’s senior director of pharmacy network and market access, “One of the key challenges we face as a distributor is product shelf life and expiration.”

For example, Patel says, “One of the products we distribute has 14- to 15-month dating [shelf life] at the time of arrival to our distribution facilities.” Additionally, patients receiving this product are guaranteed that it will not expire within less than one year after purchase. That means Asembia and its pharmacy network members have only two or three months, at most, to turn over product inventory before the goods are no longer saleable.

Prior to employing the Truecount RFID system, Asembia and its pharmacy network members either maintained a digital inventory based on their starting inventory minus dispenses, or manually counted and reported inventory down to the lot and expiration. “This was a tedious and unscientific method,” Patel explains, “that allowed too much room for human error.”

In seeking a solution, Asembia was looking for a real-time inventory system that could provide inventory accuracy down to the specific lot and expiration number for each product at every participating pharmacy. Asembia dedicated time to researching a variety of RFID-based inventory-management solutions, focusing on what it said was the most critical element: software integration. Since Asembia and its member pharmacies use its own workflow-management software, known as Asembia-1, the firm needed a solution that would integrate RFID data regarding the movement and status of inventory with that platform.

How It Works

Each product is tracked from distribution center to patient. First, a passive UHF RFID tag is applied to each container of medication. To create the proper tag for the application, Charming Trim & Packaging tested a variety of products, then selected its 15X40 u7 inlay, which is designed for unique applications. “It performs well on these types of applications,” says Jeremy Van Houten, Charming Trim & Packaging’s global account executive, “so after testing, it proved to be the right inlay for this type of application.”

Truecount’s Zander Livingston

These labels are designed with a low-release adhesive, enabling them to adhere well to Asembia’s packages, Van Houten explains, though they can also be removed without leaving residue on the package. “This was a request by Asembia,” he states, “so we designed this label specifically for their application.” Asembia applies the tags at its distribution facility, and the software links each product to its unique ID encoded to its tag. After a participating pharmacy places an order, explains Zander Livingston, Truecount’s CEO, Asembia employees select the necessary drugs, then use Zebra Technologies RFD8500 UHF RFID readers, connected to an Apple iPod, to interrogate all tagged inventory prior to shipping.

The Truecount Simple RFID software then captures and manages data about the distribution of each new product for every pharmacy. For shared visibility, all scanned inventory is processed and published in real time to a custom dashboard powered by the Asembia-1 system. In this way, Asembia can achieve visibility into inventory at each pharmacy location. The pharmacies can then access data on the Simple RFID software, which resides on an Asembia-hosted server. These member pharmacies can use the system to track their own inventory as well.

When a product order is received, pharmacy personnel scan all goods going to that customer with the pharmacy’s own handheld RFID reader, thereby updating each item’s status as sold. Every evening, the staff also conducts an inventory scan of all remaining stock, which can be reconciled with the dispense data in Asembia-1.

In the event that a product is recalled, pharmacy employees can simply input the item’s information, put the RFID reader on Geiger counter mode, and quickly locate and collect any medications that need to be removed from the shelves. In addition, Asembia can track product down to the lot and expiration dates. Based on certain expiry dates, the company can ensure that all pharmacies are following protocol and are dispensing appropriately dated drugs.

The technology can also expedite the returns process for any product determined to be unusable due to dating. “This is a tremendous benefit to the pharmacies who previously managed inventory and initiated returns,” Patel states. “Now, the return process is initiated by Asembia.” When it comes to benefits, he says, visibility ensures that no product expires or is unaccounted for. “Having that visibility throughout the supply chain, and all the way to the patient’s hands, is the ultimate benefit of this solution.”

In the meantime, for Asembia’s network pharmacies, the process of scanning inventory has eliminated the manual labor required for pharmacy employees to count each unit and report back lot numbers and expiration dates to Asembia on a regular basis. The pharmacies report that they now save time and are better able to provide the appropriate data in a timely fashion.

When the RFID system was launched earlier this year, Asembia was able to install the software remotely. Truecount then provided remote training that required only one day, Livingston reports. “Asembia is able to implement as they expand into new locations or pharmacies,” he says. “Hence, the name ‘Simple.'”

With the help of Charming Trim & Packaging, Livingston says, “We have designed a very simple way to tag up the products while supporting their post-pack product information.” Asembia plans to continue to expand the RFID tagging process throughout the next year. “We are currently working to enhance the process through our Asembia-1 platform,” Patel notes, in order “to automatically trigger order replenishment by tying dispenses to on-hand inventory.”

The solution’s greatest benefit, according to Patel, is the assurance that patients receive safe, effective products. By incorporating Truecount’s inventory-management system into Asembia’s existing services, he says, “We can align supply chain logistics with product delivery to ultimately enhance patient care.”

The South Africa retailer House of Busby build A unmanned RFID inventory system and save great

Keyword: Unmanned Inventory Handheld reader RFID system
Posted on 27th Feb,2018 By Joe Song

The South Africa retailer House of Busby installed the RFID solution in one of his store located in Johannesburg, to improve the visibility of its inventory and save the time which used in inventory checking. This solution is provided by Milestone Integrated Systems, adopts the EPC (UHF)RFID reader from Keonn and software from AdvanCloud to manage these data.

Since this system was built, the inventory checking time of this store decreased from 120 working hours to 30 minutes. This system can also be used to confirm whether the clients made the payment or not (when leave the Exit), thanks to the long reading range (several meters) elevated reader thus have no need to install additional hardware.

During inventory checking, the employee will use AdvanScan handheld reader and scan the items. What they need is only open the application on the handheld reader, push the inventory checking button and walk around in the warehouse, and the reader will automatically get the article ID from nearby cargo shelves, then the reader will send these data to the Cloud software by using WIFI or Cellular network

There will also have a AdvanPay reader in checkout counter. When the customer want to check the bill, they only need to put the article tags on the reader, the reader will get these articles’ ID information automatically and send them to the software, thus upgrade its status.

At the Exit Milestone installed an AdvanSafe elevated reader, when some guy leave store without paying the bill, the AdvanCloud software will trigger the alarm.

Lourens said, “It takes us two working days each time when we make inventory checking before we install this RFID system, but now this time decreased into half an hour. They helped us save the operating expense and improved the inventory accuracy at the same time.”

And now, House of Busby is going to install this RFID system into all their stores!

How industry 4.0 will change our world

Summary: “Industry 4.0” not only belongs to the innovation of manufacturing process, it will bring us a totally new business mode which suites this new times need, it also has a strong influence on the Economic Globalization at the same time, helps the enterprise gain more benefit through changing labor force and increasing service.
Keyword: Industry 4.0    IOT (Internet of Things)    Manufacturing
Posted on 14th Jan,2018 By Joe Song and Michael Yin

The manufacturing industry present meets multiple challenges including labor expense increasing, ageing of population, economic slowing down etc., while the global manufacturing competition is getting worse and worse. The German Gov raised the strategy of “Industry 4.0” aimed to use the advanced Physical Information System and connect the virtual reality with real world thus further enhance the operational efficiency of whole manufacturing process, and help enterprise to gain the ability of fast response to the market change.

The “Industry 4.0” concept exploded like a bomb around the world since it exists, the American quickly follows with “IOT (Internet of things)” while china raised “Internet plus” to match. “Industry 4.0” covers Robert, Big data, IOT, Cloud computing, Augmented reality, 3D printing, Knowledge system, Artificial intelligence, cyber security etc multiple technical field, they will achieve more high value business with new technology integration.

At this moment some automated industry firms started “Industry 4.0”, like “Predix” Industrial Internet cloud platform from General Electric, “MindSphere” from Siemens, Sensor 4.0 System Products from Fuchs etc., they all reflect the new trend of Internet and Intelligent. So, with the upgrade and development of industrial technology, how “Industry 4.0” will influence the global economic?

The production line in “Industry 4.0”

*Interconnection speed up manufacturing globalization
Globalization of all economy are promoted by the improving technology, no matter factory, enterprise or other organization, globalization has to be considered if you want to get a long-term development. Win more market opportunity by using global source, off course face global competition at the same time. Since the productive force promoted drastically from The first industrial revolution, enterprises noticed it is necessary to adapt globalization business thus achieve a maximized value in manufacturing.

Today, the progress of traffic and communication make great contribution to international business, the traffic equipment for sea/land/air is getting mature and becoming more and more powerful. UAV, Unmanned vehicles, Unmanned cargo ship, Delivery Robert, Intelligent logistic systems etc., new equipment further improved the efficiency of things net transport. With the increasing demand from trading and information communication, more and more firms start stepping across land/ocean to make their business achieve a further place. It’s the advanced logistics facility who make impossible to become possible!

The application of virtual reality in industry

Actually, the supply chain of manufacturing were already globalized, one product maybe designed in A country while components made in B country, but assembled in C country. Every day, logistics companies provide various freight service or air service for manufacturing industry, including logistics outsourcing, facility management, custom clearance service, warehouse service etc.

*Not only crafts innovation, even more mode creation  
Every industrial technology revolution brings a profound impact to the world. In 2011 the German Gov and Siemens introduced the “Industry 4.0” strategy on Hanover Industrial Fair, by using the new generation info technology, get through the boundary of machine with machine, Robert with human being, we can build a complete physical info system, thus make the transparent production and transparent management come true. From Simulated production to all things digitizing, under the “Industry 4.0” mode, manufacturing industry will form a complete Virtual-Actual Combination production systems.

With the Integration or development of Info Technology(IT) and Operation Technology(OT), many companies start seeking new solutions to connect digital world with real world. Collect supplier info and clients’ info through IOT, use a more specified production info, thus contributes to a maximized manufacturing/operating efficiency. IOT will build a seamless connection for digital world and real world, there will be no gap between machine systems and human, can exchange info and adjust the production plan automatically.

Solution for Industry 4.0

“Industry 4.0” isn’t only the revolution for manufacturing crafts, it will bring a totally new business mode which suits the new times need, helping enterprises get more benefit by changing the labor force and increasing service, it will also have a strong effect on economic globalization.

*The boundary for all countries are becoming blurred
Under the trend of “Industry 4.0”, companies’ operation and management will use more complex data network and global supply chain. Physical connection is replaced by more and more digital connection, which helps firms get more valuable big data, while cloud storage and application software make more and bigger data processing become available.

With the physical info system getting more and more powerful, enterprises can realize larger international cooperation. By using the software based on cloud, anyone at everywhere could contribute to the design, realized a distributed production, thus further make use of all the resources’ advantage. Such a mode is more and more adapted in CAD, which make product design a process of collaboration.

Production line of intelligent manufacturing

However, globalization is not only a case of improving designing process. Enterprises could gain the largest talented person resources, because no more regional restriction. The manufacturing expense could come down again by connecting virtual network with international supplier network. To maintain the equipment which far away from us, an expert’s assistance via remote system would be a good choice. Many international Corp., supplier or working guys get closer to each other via virtual reality, thus improved the flow of ideas and obtained more knowledge or technical experience. Cloud computing promotes the development of “Industry 4.0”, a cheaper data storage and transmission will make the Corps. a better flexibility and decentralized management.

The function of equipment gets more and more powerful

Such a mode maybe means in the future an international Corp. don’t need an obvious physical existence, when virtual and reality fused, any division in one Corp. can working all around the world, and integrate the international resources to realize a Corp.’s commercial value.

*Industry 4.0 improved enterprises’ international competitiveness
“Industry 4.0” mode will bring a broad connectivity, that means an enterprise can more easily obtain international resources and make business to all around the world but not only localized business, thus form a globalized competition. The enterprises have to face the changing consumer demand, improve production efficiency via automation technology, and reduce the production time by combining production flexibility. In this way let Corps. own a faster market responding ability and better improve its competitiveness.

With the constantly opening of sea route, today logistics can arrive every corner around the world, thus make all global factories closed to each other. The new mode “Industry 4.0” make factory production gets even more transparent and efficient, while its customized function makes enterprises a higher flexibility. This new mode will definitely further improve a Corps. international competitiveness and promote the process of industrial globalization.