Being issued a work uniform at New York’s famous Plaza Hotel is not an inherently interesting process. However, what goes on behind the scenes is. That’s because the Plaza’s uniforms are equipped with RFID technology. Whether employees know it or not, their work garments are tracked by both their employer and the Plaza’s uniform service.
Your next work uniform could be RFID equipped too. There is nothing to be worried about, though. RFID tags are completely safe. And don’t worry about your employer tracking your very move either as RFID technology is short-range technology. An RFID tag in your shirt doesn’t allow your employer to track you beyond the confines of the workplace. Management cannot listen in on your conversations or figure out where you are eating for lunch.
RFID for Inventory Control
Keeping track of company uniforms is not necessarily a challenge for a small company with just a handful of employees. But for employers like the Plaza, uniform tracking is a real challenge. They have some 900 employees to account for and each one wears a hotel-provided uniform.
So why embed RFID tags in the garments? To help management keep track of uniforms. The technology also helps the Plaza’s uniform rental company keep track of garments during pickup, laundering, and delivery. RFID technology makes for a very streamlined process from start to finish.
Imagine the head chef’s uniform with RFID tags embedded in both the trousers and chef’s coat. When a route driver picks up the dirty laundry, a reader receives the signal sent by the RFID tags and instantly notifies the uniform company’s system that the trousers and jacket have been retrieved. Readers at the plant verify the garments have arrived for laundering.
Tracking within the plant makes it clear where the garments are in the laundering process. Then the system records when they are loaded onto a truck and taken out for delivery. The system even recognizes when the garments are dropped off at the Plaza.
Why It All Matters
It is all well and good that RFID tags make it possible to track garments at every step. But why does it matter? Because the hardest part of inventory control is keeping track of the items you are trying to inventory. Having no means of tracking is an open door to theft, incidental loss, etc.
RFID technology also allows for real-time recognition of individual garments being added and removed from inventory. If a laundry company introduces 100 new uniforms to a client’s dedicated stock for example, their system instantly knows those uniforms have been taken off the shelf and added to the client’s account. The same is true when worn-out uniforms are removed from the system.
Accurate inventory makes for accurate accounting, ordering, and stocking. It means the uniform provider can always track down a garment should there ever be a need to do so.
Everyone Is Doing It
The interesting thing about RFID technology is that it seems like just about everyone is using it today. Your big-box department store relies heavily on RFID tagging to keep track of every item on store shelves and back in the warehouse. Corporations use RFID tags to keep track of computers and office equipment. Even the U.S. military relies on the technology to keep track of every asset they have in the field.
RFID technology has proved indispensable to a lot of industries. Uniform providers are starting to use it as well. As such, do not be surprised if your next uniform is embedded with RFID tags. That’s the way things are these days.