Let the tags do the sorting

Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S. Iswaran speaking to an employee at Presto Drycleaners, which is an early adopter of an RFID tagging system that makes it easier for the dry-cleaning service to track and sort the thousands of garments it handles daily.

The chances of a dry-cleaning service misplacing your clothing may be reduced significantly, if such businesses use electronic chip technology to track the items.

Under a new government initiative, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can now make use of a garment-counting system based on radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to keep on top of things even as they trim their manpower needs.

They can apply for government funding to help defray the cost of adopting such "ready to go" technology.

Presto Drycleaners is an early adopter of this RFID-aided system. The information embedded in the RFID tag on a garment identifies its owner, the laundry preferences for the clothing and the outlet to which it should be delivered to.

This system has helped Presto keep track of the thousands of garments that it receives every day, without it having to hire more people.

Mr Chan Chek Yeow, Presto's operations manager, said the system has dramatically reduced the likelihood of garments getting lost and increased efficiency. It used to take six workers to sort cleaned garments according to the outlets which they should be delivered to. Now, it takes only one person to scan the RFID tags on the garments and the system sorts them automatically.

And instead of workers manually tracking garments using receipts clipped to the clothes, the clothing can now be electronically tagged and scanned at each point of the cleaning process.

Because RFID tracking is quick and more convenient, Presto can now dispatch the garments more quickly to the correct outlets. "Drivers don't have to work overtime to deliver the clothes. They can send most of them in an afternoon," said Mr Chan.

Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said recently that the Government would adapt this RFID system into a "plug and play" model that SMEs can purchase and customise for their own businesses.

For funding support, SMEs can tap government schemes such as the Capability Development Grant administered by Spring Singapore, he said. Mr Iswaran is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office. There are companies in the hotel, food and beverage and fitness sectors that are already interested in adopting this technology, he added.


This article was first published on Oct 15, 2014.
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