Data management is a common problem for DOD suppliers. Odyssey RFID™ has created a solution to handle data entry, encoding, label printing and reporting needs by pairing an easy-to-use Web-based application for data entry with reliable Zebra printer/encoders to output compliant shipping labels.
The Odyssey RFID 4DOD™ service simplifies DOD reporting requirements for suppliers by eliminating most data management activities. Odyssey RFID 4DOD™ is a hosted application that Odyssey configures for each client. Instead of entering numerous contract numbers, contractor ID and item codes, suppliers use drop-down menus to prepare and submit shipment information to the DOD. Suppliers have the option of using Odyssey's service bureau to print RFID-encoded shipping labels, or to produce them on site with their own Zebra® R110Xi™ printer/encoder that is offered with the service. With hosted software and off-site printing/encoding, users do not need to install or maintain any hardware or software to meet their DOD RFID compliance requirements. Suppliers simply make selections from validated pull-down lists, and the software handles the rest.
The system directs a printer/encoder either at the supplier's site or at Odyssey RFID's service center to produce the required smart labels. The labels are validated for data integrity and readability to DOD specifications with an Alien Technology reader Odyssey RFID™ provides as part of the solution, and then the RFID labels are applied to the cases and pallets.
Odyssey's service center validates that the shipment data is correctly packed and all tags are readable prior to automated submission to WAWF and other government systems. "Odyssey's ASP (application service provider) service worked very well for us because we ship products to the DOD from several locations," says Brian Meyer of Hawkeye Glove Manufacturing, which uses the complete service for data management, reporting and label printing. Hawkeye selects DOD order information from the browser-based system and receives RFID-encoded shipping labels from Odyssey RFID™ by express shipment.
Hawkeye Glove maintains no RFID equipment at any of its locations. "We ship to the DODfrom three facilities and may add a fourth," says Meyer. "I'm not sure we could justify the cost if we had to install equipment for RFID compliance at each."
About one-third of RFID 4DOD users choose to have Odyssey print and ship their smart labels, with the rest printing on site.Wherever printing/encoding occurs, the RFID smart labels are produced by a Zebra R110Xi, which is the only printer/encoder Odyssey RFID trusts for its system.
The R110Xi encodes the standard EPCglobal Gen 2 RFID tags the DOD requires, and includes a software-defined radio (SDR) so other RFID protocols can also be supported. The R110Xi is rugged, reliable in high duty cycle applications, and offers multiple connectivity and remote management options.
"Reliability is paramount to us because we are remotely managing more than 70 RFID devices at our customer sites, plus the equipment in our own service bureau," says Andrew Lim, vice president of sales and marketing at Odyssey RFID™. "We can't afford any downtime, and neither can our customers.We use best-of-breed components, and that includes Zebra printers and supplies."
Zebra quality and reliability is clear to customers, too. Silas Martin, IT manager at Winston Salem Industries for the Blind, which provides the DOD with uniforms and other apparel, has firsthand experience with the R110Xi and a competitive model that is part of a legacy compliance tagging system used at a subcontractor facility.
"I've worked with different solutions and can compare the equipment," says Martin. "I could see Zebra's superior construction just by opening the box. The R110Xi is made from stainless steel, others are made of plastic. The other printer/encoder we use was installed first. Once the Zebra was running, it was like looking at a Cadillac next to a Pinto."