Asset Tracking Case Study: Meritex

May 24, 2012 Impinj
Meritex Case Study

 

Meritex needed a more precise way to track linens between its laundry facilities and hotel customers in a challenging environment.

The RFID solution delivers:

  • 99.9% receiving and dispatch accuracy
  • Increased visibility
  • Improved relations with customers

Challenge

Meritex receives, cleans, folds and returns tens of thousands of linens each week for a dozen hotels. Two of the hotels have custom linens and, though ten of the resorts have identical linens, each hotel requires that Meritex clean and return the exact linens they send over.

Typically, hotels use weight to track the amount of linens they send to be cleaned. However, weight is an inexact measurement because the soiled linens full of dirt and water that arrive at Meritex always weigh more that the clean linens Meritex returns. Hotels estimate how many linens they think they are sending over, but two batches of similar weights could have vastly different amounts of linens based on the amount of water content in each piece. In reality, hotels relying on weight have little visibility into the exact amount of linens dispatched to the cleaners, but that did not prevent them from holding Meritex accountable for any ‘lost’ laundry. Meritex was being charged for any discrepancies between the hotel’s dispatch and receiving reports.

Meritex sought a way to reduce the headache in their laundry business by improving their receiving and dispatch accuracy. The company had heard of RFID and Foundation Logic Systems through a customer, the Waldorf Astoria hotel, who had improved linen management thanks to the technology. Meritex decided to try the system in their facility to give their business and their customers more visibility into the number of linens serviced.

A challenge of using RFID technology for this application is that the water content in the soiled linens could absorb a lot of the RF energy from the tags, causing missed reads. The linens are also densely packed and in various orientations. Foundation Logic’s solution needed RFID readers with superior performance in order to achieve the highest level of accuracy for their customers. Impinj Speedway Revolution readers proved to be the right fit for the challenge.

How It Works

Meritex worked with a crew to sew RFID tags into all the linens currently in their system. When a hotel places an order for more linens, Meritex sends RFID tags to the linen manufacturer to be sewn in. The tags each have a unique ID number which corresponds to a record in Foundation Logic’s software. The record includes information such as what type of item, when it was purchased, to which hotel it belongs and how many times it has been washed.

At the Meritex facility, three RFID read stations were installed by Foundation Logic. At the dock doors where linen is received and dispatched, a portal with up to 9 antennas powered by Impinj Speedway Revolution readers registers which linens are moving in or out of the facility.

Soiled linen comes to Meritex on laundry carts in quantities ranging from 180-500 pieces. The Speedway readers are able to read the linens, which are often damp, with accuracy around 99%. Foundation Logic’s software records all the items that were received. When linens are dispatched back to a hotel, the portal also reads with accuracy of nearly 100%. Meritex prints out reports that detail exactly which linens were received and which were returned, so hotels can clearly see if any items were not returned from the cleaners. The differences in receiving and dispatching accuracies works for Meritex because they will always be returning more linens to the hotel than they reportedly received.

When linens get torn or become unusable, Meritex must disassociate their ID numbers from the system. Another read station with a Speedway reader is used to register the discarded linens and remove them from Foundation Logic’s software.

A third and final read point with a Speedway reader and Threshold antenna is located at a counter in the Meritex facility used for administrative purposes such as encoding tags or scanning linens in smaller batches.

Benefits

The RFID solution from Foundation Logic with hardware from Impinj has enabled Meritex to achieve greater visibility of all linens throughout their facility. Meritex is able to accurately account for linens at rates of 99.9%, a great improvement over past systems which relied on weight. While Meritex previously had to look up linen history in groups, with the RFID system they gain visibility at the item level and can see exact details for each individual linen piece. Meritex can now look for trends in linen lifecycles based on article, number of washes and hotel.

With RFID, Meritex is also passing the benefits on to the hotels they work with which helps keep their customers happy with the Meritex service. The company is able to definitively show properties if linens are being lost at Meritex. With this data, hotels can more easily troubleshoot their shrinkage problem, instead of solely holding Meritex accountable for the losses.

Meritex Laundry

Meritex Laundry is a commercial laundry business that was established in New Jersey in 1998. As a subsidiary of Hilton Worldwide, Meritex services 12 Hilton properties in New York and New Jersey. Meritex launders 35-40 million pounds of linens per year.

In Collaboration with:

Foundation Logic

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