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Industrial RFID Enhances Garment Handling

Clothes of various colors, sizes, styles and cuts can be sorted and organized quickly with RFID and inventory is done on the spot

Pepperl+Fuchs offers more than 20 years of experience in industrial RFID technologies
Pepperl+Fuchs offers more than 20 years of experience in industrial RFID technologies

Application
Frequently, garments are stored and transported on clothes hangers. Irrespective of the size of an order, order line items must be handled automatically, from warehouse to shipping dock, so that a single physical shipment is quickly collected.


Goal

Expensive shipping errors must be avoided. Order picking and fulfillment must be efficient and consistently reliable throughout the facility and must also include the return process from the store or end customer.


Requirements

The RFID tag, attached to the clothes hanger using a "role adapter", must be read reliably even though the garment pieces are stored very close to each other. This requires RFID read heads with a narrow read field and a very small form factor.


Customer advantage
Businesses have an industrially robust and maintenance-free identification solution that can be used for decades without maintenance in addition to automatic handling of a large number of individual items and shipments.



Clothes hanger transport system and sorter

What has been done

Compared to brick and mortar clothing stores, online businesses tend to offer a much larger variety of products, sizes, and colors. They are also faced with significant returns that need to be re-inventoried as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for a clothes hanger storage facility to hold 100,000 pieces; each of which needs to be accessible at any time so that it can be associated with other items on an order. Medium- to large-size warehouses are easily faced with tens of thousands of individual pick orders and several thousand returns each day. Automating these processes carries a significant savings potential.

The clothes hangers are equipped with RFID tags in the sorter, and it is here that data characterizing the garment is associated with the electronic RFID tag. Once these data are "married" to each other, every piece in the warehouse is uniquely identified. Garments are densely stored, and the system must be able to read tags on neighboring hangers without interference. This demands small tags and read electronics with a narrow read field, assuring that only the garment tag directly in front of a reader is accessed. A properly designed and implemented industrial RFID solution not only enhances the throughput of the garment storage facility but also reduces physical size requirements of the storage facility, shortens fulfillment times, and keeps return costs low.

Industrial RFID enhances the sorting and material handling processes associated with individual garment orders.