7 Reasons to Track Your Uniforms with RFID
Why does tracking uniforms help businesses? Here are 7 reasons to get started!
Keeping on top of employee workwear can be time consuming and expensive. But if uniforms are not effectively managed this can lead to items going missing, being in the wrong place or not clean and ready for use when required. This can easily result in shortages which in turn can negatively impact your organisation’s ability to provide a service, protect your employees, or make a good impression on your customers.
An effective uniform management system using latest tracking technologies can solve these problems. Uniforms are an investment, especially in large scale operations, so keeping track of them and their lifecycle can dramatically affect ROI.
Who Can Benefit From Uniform Tracking?
Whether your business is facilities management or you operate managed services, are in hospitality, public services or in the automotive industry - businesses across multiple industries can benefit from knowing the locations of their uniforms.
The requirements of workwear changes from organisation to organisation. Protective firefighter uniforms need to remain fit-for-purpose, shared hotel employee uniforms need to be laundered quickly and contractor uniforms have to be logged against specific workers to assign accountability. Whatever the main driver for tracking uniforms, many businesses benefit from a management system that ensures workers have the uniforms they need. For more examples of how this system can apply to different industries, see our uniform management examples.
However, it’s important that these systems are robust. Manually tracking uniforms using barcodes or simply counting garments is time consuming and leaves room for human error. It’s easy to forget to update inventory spreadsheets and complete check-in forms. Not to mention keeping on top of these processes ties up staff time which could be used elsewhere in the business. Compared to more efficient and automatic tracking solutions, it is far easier for garments to go missing in a manual system, which leads to unnecessary replacement costs.
This process can be improved and simplified through the use of advanced tracking technology.
How does Uniform Tracking work?
RFID (radio frequency identification) is a tracking technology that uses electromagnetic fields to identify data and track specialist tags. These tags contain a microchip with a unique ID, along with a radio antenna. Learn more about how RFID technology works here.
To track the locations of uniforms, specialist passive fabric RFID tags are sewn in or attached to each garment to be tracked. Tags are waterproof and can withstand high temperatures, so they can survive professional cleaning procedure. Often, they are sewn into the label. The unique ID from each tag is then registered in a database with specific information about the particular garment, for example purchase date, owner, size and care instructions.
Either mobile handheld or fixed readers are used in key locations to track the garments through their wash and use cycles. This could for example be in a dirty store, in goods in or goods out areas from which garments are despatched to a laundry, at the laundry itself and in locations where uniforms are stored to make them available for use. In addition, handheld readers could be used on delivery and collection vehicles to register when garments have been collected or dropped off.
This location information is then sent to a central database which can be viewed on a computer, tablet or phone to provide full visibility on your uniform assets at all times. In addition, items can be uniquely identified to ensure that uniforms receive the correct care and can be returned to the correct wearer.
7 Ways RFiD Tracking Can Help Uniform Management
RFID tracking technology can support uniform management on multiple different levels, especially when it comes to costs. But there are other advantages too. These include:
1. Providing an Overview of Your Inventory
Tracking uniforms with RFID provides accurate, real-time information on where garments are - how many are in storage, how many are checked out and how many aren’t returned. This means you have full visibility of stock to ensure that there are always enough items where required.
2. Saving Time
Instead of having to remove all garments from a laundry bag and sort through them manually, an RFiD reader can detect the contents of a collection bag in seconds. This removes the need for visual identification, speeding up the process. Using fixed readers in key location can automate the tracking process and provide further time savings.
3. Understanding the Uniform Lifecycle
With up-to-date data on the lifecycle of your uniforms, you’ll be able to keep on top of normal wear-and-tear and forecast when replacements are required. With items being uniquely identifiable, you can also compare which types of garments last longer, to identify where savings can be made to reduce capital expenditure and improve ROI.
4. Creating a More Efficient Process
Improved garment tracking means identifying and solving potential bottlenecks in your uniform management system, for example if one part of the laundry or redistribution process creates a hold up. Carrying out an inventory can also be completed quickly or even automatically without the need for stock counting.
5. Ensuring Correct Garment Care
The central database not only identifies location data, but also delivers care instructions. For instance, if a reader near a washing station detects a tag, the system could flag up if a garment should not be put through this process because it’s dry clean only. This system ensures garments are washed correctly, helping to increase their lifespan and reduce waste.
6. Visibility on Cost Savings
RFiD tags grant access to a wide range of data, from purchasing to maintance. This provides visibility on individual garments, as well as a top-level view. With this data, you can analyse how much each garment costs to clean, how pieces are getting laundered and keep on top of uniform expenses.
7. Improve Accountability
As items can be uniquely identified, they can be allocated to the wearer who is then responsible for their safe return. This adds a new layer of accountability for anyone wearing your uniforms and helps you mitigate the risk of shortages and missing assets.
Uniform Management Examples
Using RFiD technology to track the location of garments has a wide range of applications that spans multiple industries and organisations. Here’s a taster of how, here at RFiD Discovery, we have helped our clients improve their uniform management.
Tracking Reusable PPE with Welspring
We’re in partnership with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) manufacturer Welspring to help manage re-usable protective garments. PPE is critical for infection control, so a robust system is needed to ensure adequate inventory for those who wear it. However, PPE like disposable gowns can rack up costs, as well as having a significant environmental impact. Setting up a reusable PPE system with RFiD tags mitigates these risks. Learn more about our project with Welspring here.
Improving Managed Services with Emergency Services Uniform Manufacturer
We’ve been working with managed service provider Bristol Uniforms on their PPE and emergency uniforms inventory. With such a vital service, using RFID to improve their uniform management meant greater visibility on location, as well as repairs, cleanings and maintenance costs. Learn more about how we helped Bristol Uniforms here.
Uniform management systems can be transformative. Using RFiD tracking technology can help you streamline your systems delivering a significant ROI. With the costs that ineffective uniform management can rack up, keeping on top of employee uniforms can result in reducing waste and delivering long-term savings.
But RFiD tags are not just for uniforms - learn about their other applications here.
Want to learn more or have questions about uniform tracking? Get in touch with us.