The biggest challenges that face the hospitality industry nowadays are the growing cost of linen supplies and the difficulty of managing the inventory of bed sheets, tablecloths, towels, bathrobes, uniforms, hampers and other washable garments. The increasing price of cotton continually drives up the cost of linens and garments, making it especially important to maximize the use of each item. Some of the issues that increase expenditure include theft, damage to items, billing discrepancies and others. Hotels, theme parks, cruise ships, casinos, resorts, arenas and related businesses worldwide have a limited idea of how much these are costing them, especially since they have a hard time keeping track of where each garment is at any particular point in time.
Tracking linens with RFID
Luckily, several innovative companies, such as Fluensee, Linen Tracking Technology and Invotech, are creating new high-tech radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions for linen and garment tracking. Washable RFID tags assist companies in the hospitality industry in monitoring these difficult-to-manage assets even through different properties and laundering services. Having washable RFID labels mean that these tracking devices can survive not just getting wet, but also getting washed, tumbled and dried. These RFID tags and labels have a wide variety of applications, from uniforms, to costumes, to linens to laundry.
These RFID tags are usually tiny and are sealed in protective material housing, which keeps it secure. It retains accuracy and performance even after numerous uses. They can be attached to all types of garments by pinning, sewing or tying, after which the information can be captured and stored in a database in real time. The RFID tags are able to resist water and withstand extreme pressure, temperature and chemicals. They can survive conditions introduced by laundry services, such as dry cleaning and textile rental.
Tracking linens with Linentracker RFID Solution
Fluensee has partnered with Linen Technology Tracking to create linentracker solution. Using Linen Technology Tracking’s patented SMARTtags, items like towels, bathrobes and sheets are tagged, scanned and monitored in real time from the check-in and check-out stations, the closet, the pool, the spa, the beach and through the laundry. Fluensee’s management software AssetTrack automates business operations by improving visibility, security and use of assets. Proper management of assets have a dramatic effect on time, labor and cost and significantly reduces expenses and delays due to bottlenecks, manual counts and searches. Hotels using RFID technology have experienced various benefits, including enhanced guest experience, maximized use of the items, improved inventory tracking, increased savings, more efficient linen purchases and decreased theft. A Honolulu hotel has reduced theft of their towels from 4000 a month to 750.
Tracking linens with Invotech's GIMS RFID solutions
Invotech has several Garment Inventory Management System (GIMS) solutions for asset management that use RFID, among them the Uniform System, the Linen System, the Laundry System and the Multi-Property System.
The Uniform System uses RFID to emulate the normal processes that a uniform undergoes. The RFID is used to track item location and usage, employee assignments of uniform, daily pickup, cleaning including automatic billing by department, purchasing, selling as well as repairs and alterations including tracking history of repair and productivity of tailors. There are over 100 customizable reports that can be instantly sent to key individuals. The solution has recently been deployed in Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario and Hotel Bel-Air in Beverly Hills, California.
The Linen System tracks room and table linens and bath, spa and pool towels using RFID. All linens are tracked to and from the laundry and the use and aging of each item are monitored. The RFID software alerts users when stockrooms need replenishing. Real-time tracking reduces loss and pilferage of linenes. Tracking the inventory realistically allows companies to monitor the lifespan and durability of an item which helps create more accurate budget plans and provides negotiating power for future purchases.
The Laundry System provides a complete RFID solution for uniform and linen management. This syncs to the uniform and linen systems and controls activities at off-site facilities. It can process multiple clients simultaneously. Laundry service providers can check in stained clothing and compare their condition with the client’s comments. Any discrepancies with the description of the stain can be immediately rectified. Sorting and billing is automated.
The Multi-Property System allows companies with more than one linen department and/or uniform department to integrate their RFID systems seamlessly. The solution allows for an unlimited number of properties or sites.
Aside from the hospitality industry, their RFID solutionss have been used by hospitals, universities, museums, racetracks, historic parks, dry cleaners and laundry services. The capabilities of the RFID software provide real dollar savings and clients typically get a return on their investment within the first year of use. They have been translated to other languages such as Chinese and Spanish and have been adopted in foreign markets. These solutions have been recently deployed in Sheraton, Shangri-La, St. Regis and Traders properties in Macau.
Fluensee (www.fluensee.com) specializes in RFID-enabled management and tracking of physical, mobile and fixed assets. Their flexible software and robust hardware combine to provide professional solutions that address the needs of asset-intensive enterprises, enabling businesses to track their assets whether it’s one or multiple locations. Their software is 100% browser-based, making it easily portable to different platforms and supports RFID, barcode, Wi-Fi, GPS, sensor and other similar technologies from any company. Their headquarters is in Denver, Colorado’s Tech Center and they were formed in 1995.
InvoTech Systems, Inc. (www.invotech.com) develops systems for efficient business operations, integrating their proprietary software with equipment that use a wide range of technology such as RFID chips and patches, electronic signature capture, barcode labels and tags, specialized antennas and scanners, ID authentication and verification, biometric identification, and TCP/IP and wireless connectivity. They also provide installation and training, technical support, and software and system enhancements. This California company has been serving the hospitality, education and sports industries since 1993.
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