At Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City an entire showroom of research and medical supplies has been tagged to allow for greater ease of purchasing for its staff of scientists.
John R. Johnson, RFID 24-7
The 700 square-foot retail showroom contains $225,000 worth of
tagged medical products, ranging from $8 boxes of latex gloves to
complex enzymes, reagents and frozen research products that retail
for $2,500. About $65,000 worth of product is sold from the
showroom each month.
One of the retail aisles stocked with RFID-tagged items for
"Our researchers absolutely love this," says Jessica Witt, head of
research systems at Stowers Institute. "They really enjoy being
able to walk down the aisles and easily find things. They like the
way it's merchandised and the checkout process is phenomenal. You
can put 30 items on a table and checkout immediately."
The stockroom went live at the end of September and is open 24
hours a day, seven days a week. It is staffed by one associate but
is often unmanned, allowing researchers to check out products
whenever the need arises.
The shopping area contains items stacked on metal shelves
similar to a grocery store, as well as a dozen refrigerator and
freezer units for temperature controlled inventory. There is also a
storage area for hazardous materials like chemicals.
The system is set up to allow for expansion down the road. It
replaced the old system that allowed researchers to login to an
account, specify the products they were looking for, and then
remove them from locked cabinets. Witt began to research new
alternatives when the old system was no longer supported by the
The new system keeps tabs on roughly 1,000 products. Aside from
vastly streamlining the purchasing process for researchers, the
Smart Stockroom reduces shrinkage by recording exactly how many
items were removed.
When researchers enter the store, they browse several aisles for
the products they need. Once they locate their supplies, they place
all items on a table at the checkout station and record their
fingerprint for identification purposes. When they hit "checkout"
at the table, an email message is automatically generated that
details what they've purchased. The system automatically charges
the exact research budget for what has been purchased so that funds
are removed from the proper research grant. The system then creates
a re-order in Stowers' Oracle ERP purchasing system to replace the
Aside from reducing shrinkage, the RFID-enabled showroom allows
the Stowers Institute to carry a wider array of merchandise for the
350 staff scientists who operate there. Witt can also purchase
items in larger quantities, making the non-profit institute
eligible for to receive better pricing from suppliers.
Additionally, the system offers product options that scientists can
compare while making purchases, allowing them to do comparison
shopping and stretching grant funds for particular projects to the
furthest limit. The showroom's checkout area.
The RFID-enabled store also alerts stockroom personnel when its
inventory drops below specified levels, ensuring that inventory is
reordered on time. Stowers researchers analyze how genes and
proteins control virtually all biological processes; from cell
division to cell differentiation; from processing smells to storing
fat; from generating memories to regenerating missing body
"We wanted this to resemble something like a shopping experience
where people can come in and look at shelves and easily find items
and really just be able to easily handle them and check the items
out automatically," says Witt.
Read the whole story at:
Don't forget to visit and LIKE RFID 24-7 Facebook page