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Apr 22, 2009

RFID Puts Things into Focus for Eyeglass Lens Maker
Source: RFID Jounal

Apr. 22, 2009-GKB Hi-Tech Lenses, based in Goa, India, manufactures optical lenses-enough to produce eyeglasses for 7 million consumers worldwide every year. But while it produces state-of-the-art lenses, the company-which operates through a joint venture with German optical manufacturer Carl Zeiss-has, until recently, employed an antiquated order-management system. However, with the help of S3Edge, a packaged-software provider of turnkey RFID solutions, GKB Hi-Tech has significantly reduced its order dwell time, while also boosting overall efficiencies-improving its order turnaround time by 23 percent.

When a consumer orders prescription glasses at one of the retail outlets that buys lenses from GKB Hi-Tech, the lens specifications are fed into a centrally operated order-management software application, which then assigns a unique identification number to that order. At the manufacturing facility, this number is used to call up production details-the strength of the prescription, as well as other features, such as antireflective coatings or color tinting.

At the beginning of the manufacturing process, an employee prints out an order-generated with a bar code encoded with that particular order number-and retrieves a pair of blanks used to create a set of eyeglass lenses, upon which various processes are carried out in order to give it the optical power required for that prescription. The printed order and the blanks are always kept together in a reusable container that is moved through each manufacturing step in the factory.

Under the previous order-tracking process, workers would scan the order form's bar code at each station, thus enabling the order-management system to receive updates regarding each order's location in the manufacturing process. However, that method did not provide a means for the order-management system to alert employees when a particular order needed to be rushed in order to meet a short delivery deadline. As a result, some orders were completed later than they were supposed to be, while others were fulfilled sooner than required.

The company needed a means of messaging workers to prioritize certain orders. This is where RFID has improved the manufacturing process.

Now, upon initiating a project, a worker still prints that order and scans the bar code printed on it. But when he does so, an RFID interrogator at his manufacturing station collects the unique code encoded to an EPC Gen 2 UHF passive tag attached to the container that will carry the lenses from one station to the next. S3Edge's RTVS (real-time visibility systems) software, built on Microsoft's BizTalk RFID middleware platform, controls the RFID reader and is also linked to the order-management software. The RTVS software associates the order number, collected from the bar-code scan, with the RFID tag number. Prior to installing the RFID system, workers at subsequent stations had to manually scan the bar code on each order they received, in order to update the order-management system regarding the lenses' progress and location. Now, an interrogator mounted at each station automates this job, continuously reading any nearby tags.

At each station, the RTVS pulls details from the order-management software, then utilizes this data to display alerts on a video monitor. Based on the order specifications and the completion deadline time, for instance, the software determines the maximum amount of time a given order can remain (or dwell) at a given station before being moved to the next manufacturing step. If an order remains at a particular station for more than this allotted time, the RTVS triggers an alert to the appropriate worker that one of the orders in his queue needs to be given priority. This alert is displayed on a monitor at the station, along with the order number, so that the employee can locate the order and work on it next. If, for some reason, the worker fails to process the priority order soon after this first alert, a second alert is displayed, presented in red, and the software can also trigger an e-mail or SMS message to a plant manager, alerting her to the delay.

In addition, the software can send alerts if an order is brought to a station at which the manufacturing step performed is not required for that order, thus ensuring that the order is properly filled and not unduly delayed.

Manish Soni, GKB Hi-Tech's general manager, says the RFID system has enabled the company to greatly eliminate delays that previously resulted from the workers' lack of awareness regarding the priority of the orders they processed. In fact, he says, the company has reduced the number of orders that are completed late by 80 percent, while improving its average order turnaround time by 23 percent. What's more, Soni adds, order accuracy rates have improved, and are now at 98 percent.

The real-time visibility is also providing GKB Hi-Tech with a means of performing more detailed performance auditing than was previously available with the bar-code work-in-progress tracking system. This should help the company further hone its order accuracy and turnaround times.

S3Edge elected to install ThingMagic's Mercury4 readers-each of which supports four bistatic antennas-at each of seven stations in the manufacturing facility. UPM Raflatac produces the RFID tags, which measure 2 centimeters by 10 centimeters (0.8 inch by 4 inches) in size, and are embedded in a durable PVC laminate and attached to the reusable containers carrying the orders-in-progress. At present, the facility has 5,000 tagged containers, which it uses to process the roughly 3,000 orders it receives each day.


To get more information about how the S3 RTVS portfolio of solutions enable significant improvements to your business processes in a rapid manner without having to invest heavily upfront, please e-mail us at


S3 Edge's RTVS capabilities enabled RiteCare Pharmacy to envision, design and implement game-changing business processes. The S3 Edge RTVS software built on Microsoft BizTalk platform has enabled us to cut down our cycle times to ship by 50%, eliminate errors due to mis-ships, and double our throughput times. This innovative real-time visibility platform for warehouse ensures RiteCare can now scale rapidly in the future to fulfill our promise of a quality pharmacy in every neighborhood with wide variety of medicines.

Seshu Guddanti
Managing Director of RiteCare

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S3Edge continues to raise the bar in the area of software innovation to address customer needs. The support for Android-based devices for our transfusion medicine RFID applications will give healthcare professionals in our field an easy, well-understand interface to quickly adopt a new set of auto-ID applications aimed at cutting costs and eliminating errors in the blood supply chain. This new-paradigm is going to be the game-changer in the adoption of RFID based applications in Healthcare.

Clive Hohberger
RFID Systems Architect,
Blood Center of Wisconsin

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The S3Edge's RTVS based WiP (work in process) solution delivered on the promise of real visibility, real time in record time to enable GKB (Carl Zeiss Vision JV partner) to continue to raise the bar in the level of service .The WIP solution was delivered at ZEISS Brand Lab at Goa (a Carl Zeiss "Star One" accredited lab). In addition to enabling fewer delayed orders, and a multi-fold increase in customer satisfaction with a RFID based solution on the manufacturing floor, S3 is also closely working with us on designing innovative solution for our retail stores in India to further increase our customer value.

Manish Soni
General Manager
GKB Hi-Tech Lenses Pvt. Ltd.

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We are extremely pleased to team up with S3Edge to put this exciting system development into the hands of our clients. Our unified, best-of-breed approach, which brings together Access Solutions’ deep domain expertise in the FME industry and S3Edge’s Spotlight technology for RFID-based asset tracking, as well as their systems integration bench strength and expertise, will deliver unparalleled levels of efficiencies across the enterprise

Kelvin Mann,
President  & CEO, Access Solutions

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"The expertise and credibility of the S3Edge team made it an easy choice for us to engage with them to build out our device provider capabilities for the BizTalk RFID platform. In addition, their ability to deliver ‘80% done, 20% customizable’ software solutions via their rich RTVS solution framework is a much needed piece of the puzzle in enabling our integrators to deliver high-value, complex solutions in a repeatable cookie-cutter manner, with lesser custom code"

Sal Scafidi
Strategic Business Manager
Omron RFID Division
United Technologies

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"S3Edge's commitment to quality, flexibility, and RFID domain expertise in deploying enterprise-ready software in an operationally challenging environment using a variety of devices, is second to none. Their approach to deploying a scalable Real-Time Visibility & Control System has allowed us to take a complex, emerging technology and convert it into a competitive advantage for our business and customers"

James Chan
General Manager

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S3Edge has helped Motorola take our partnership with Microsoft BizTalk RFID to the next level.

Matt Eschbach
Global Strategic Alliance Manager
Motorola Enterprise Mobility Business

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S3 Edge is our most preferred RFID technical partner

Kian NG
SOA, Process Platform & RFID Solutions Sales - ASIA Lead
Microsoft Asia Pacific

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Thanks to the outstanding work of the entire consortium team, we have successfully piloted the new system to track blood products as they move from fixed and mobile donation sites, through the blood center and to distribution. After 24 weeks of running the system in a pilot mode here at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, we have seen process efficiency and traceability gains, as well as marked improvements in reconciliation

Lynne Briggs
Vice President and
Chief Information Officer,
Blood Center of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

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S3Edge's packaged asset tracking software has enabled us to go from assessing technical feasibility to building out a set of applications that address the operational needs of blood centers and hospitals in a relatively short period of time. Their technical abilities and experience in deploying enterprise-ready applications has helped the consortium deliver on the promise of a packaged mission critical solution to improve the safety and efficiency of our nation's blood supply

Tina Chang
CEO, SysLogic Inc.

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The RFID system provided equivalent capabilities to those of IPR in terms of detecting and resolving process errors. It additionally provided the blood bank staff real-time visibility for blood products in transit from the hospital blood bank to the point-of-care and in remote storage in our emergency department.

Dr. Thomas J. Raife,
MD, Clinical Professor & Medical Director,
UIHC DeGowin Blood Center

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"S3Edge is a key partner in developing packaged solutions that fully utilize the capabilities of the Microsoft BizTalk RFID platforms to address real-world customer need. Their Spotlight product is a good example of how partners are innovating to deliver complete end-to-end solutions for customers on the Microsoft Application Platform, across the globe"

Sudhir Hasbe

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We are extremely pleased to team up with S3Edge to design, and develop this innovative application for the transfusion medicine industry. Our collaborative, best-of-breed approach, which brings together the domain expertise in Transfusion Medicine practices and S3Edge's software strength, will deliver unparalleled levels of efficiencies for blood centers and hospitals across their supply chain operations

Rodeina Davis
Vice-President & CIO, BloodCenter of Wisconsin

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S3 Edge’s unique capabilities and deep understanding of Microsoft’s Mobile RFID platform was crucial in deploying a turnkey solution at RiteCare pharmacy for warehouse visibility – their ability to go from design to fully operational in 60-90 days at the customer site is a testament of their abilities to show demonstrable ROI and lower the barrier to rapid solution deployment.

Judy Huang
Product Manager RFID
Unitech Electronics Co., LTD

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"We selected S3Edge after evaluating solution providers based on their experience, and ability to deliver a mission-critical, large-scale enterprise application focused on the operator and the flow of work in our existing processes. Thanks to this approach and S3Edge's focus on delivering to commitments, the project benefits were realized within three months of launch with little to no re-engineering required. The system has been running live in a high velocity, dynamic manufacturing environment for over a year with no issues"

Balaji Suresh
Materials Manager, and project sponsor
United Technologies

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Our strategic partnership with S3Edge allows Microsoft BizTalk RFID users to exploit the Speedway® reader’s advanced capabilities and performance. I highly recommend S3Edge as a partner to work with in building end-to-end solutions on the Microsoft RFID platform.

Daniel Bowman
Sr. Marketing Manager, Impinj, Inc

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Contact S3Edge
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  Spotlight based RFID Software provides an automated method of identifying the movement of assets across various locations by deploying a packaged inventory-tracking solution across various devices, that can then be customized for specific business-process workflows.