The hand-held devices, referred to as RaFTs - or Radio Frequency Terminals - are about the size of a VHS cassette tape and enable warehouse and shop floor personnel to perform real time inquiries, updates and logistical management functions

The FORESITE software suite supports inventory location tracking, allowing warehouses to be set up without regard for maintaining products in any particular order on the shelves. Items are merely stored in a location which is physically large enough to accommodate the product. The item's location is entered into the system, either from a data terminal or via wireless bar-code terminal, and from that point forward all company personnel can locate the item if needed. A logistics based warehouse allows for streamlined, location-driven, picking and put-away operations, which result in higher worker productivity, reduced errors, and lowered transaction costs.

The FORESITE wireless bar-coding subsystem (FOREWAVE) is comprised of three basic elements:

a host software module.
a number of hand-held wireless terminals.
a base-station transceiver.

All transactions entered via the wireless terminals occur in real-time. There is virtually no limit to the number of hand-held units that can operate simultaneously in one warehouse and all hand-held terminal operators can execute different functions simultaneously. In other words, if two operators are using two hand-held devices concurrently, one of them can perform a physical count, while the other performs sales order picking.

Software Module

The wireless system is designed to work specifically with FORESITE software, providing a full, real-time integration between RaFT I/O (input/output) and working data files used within the FORESITE management system. The system allows for inquiry and updates to FORESITE files generated simultaneously by any number of RaFTs. The following inventory management and order processing routines have been developed and deployed in a production environment:

Inventory location query and update.
Linking of inventory SKU number to UPC bar-code number(s).
Printing of various tags to portable or stationary bar-code printer(s).
Printing various reports to stationary printer(s).
Paper-less bin replenishment from secondary / tertiary to primary / secondary location(s).
Paper-less purchase order put-away by location (multiple RaFTs can work on the same order) .
General product inquiry - description, quantity on-hand / pending / receipt / transfer, etc.
Paper-less sales order picking by location (multiple RaFTs can work on the same order).
Paper-less purchase order receiving.
Inventory physical cycle-counting.

Like the FORESITE package in general, all wireless bar-coding software subroutines are highly modular. This means that frequently performed functions can be performed without interruption of a work in progress. For example, while receiving a purchase order line item, the operator can inquire about warehouse location for the item, update the location, print a bin tag and link its SKU# to a UPC# - all without termination of the purchase order receiving process.

The software is designed to be 100% halt tolerant. In the event of a system shutdown (extremely rare) all RaFTs will re-initialize to the exact point of work in progress before the shutdown. A single host system process, addressed via a serial port interface, can support simultaneous access by up to 16 RaFTs, depending on volume of traffic. Wireless subsystem software price starts at $5,000 and varies according to number of RaFTs placed in service, training requirements, customization requirements, number of branches, etc.

Hand-held Terminals or RaFTs

Each RaFT measures approximately 8" x 3.25" x 1.5" and weighs about one pound. Each RaFT incorporates a 20 character by 4 line liquid crystal display (LCD), an alphanumeric keyboard, a laser bar-code scanning device and a radio transceiver into one ergonomic unit. RaFTs are powered by 3 AA batteries which typically deliver 5 to 10 business days of service, depending on frequency of use. A variety of holstering options are available. Transmitting range is 400-1000 feet, depending on warehouse layout and construction methods used. Two integrated data ports allow for the connection of a portable printer and /or peripheral bar-code scanning devices. RaFTs can be programmed to deliver voice prompts such as "Scan UPC#!". We have tested and successfully used the voice prompts but have elected not to use them in order to conserve battery power.

RF Base Station

The Radio Frequency base station measures approximately 5" x 6.5" x 1.5". The Base Station attaches directly to the host computer system through a serial RS232 interface operating and speeds of up to 19,200 baud. The unit is powered by a 5 Volt power supply that plugs into a standard 110 Volt outlet. Each RF Base Station will support up to 16 RaFT using sophisticated mutliplexing algorithms to deliver apparently simultaneous access by each of the RaFTs. The Base Station provides all of the logic necessary to properly route traffic to and from each individual RaFT. No intermediate PC is necessary!!. Typical transmission range is 400-1000 ft. allowing for a circular coverage area ranging from 48,000 to 300,000 square feet. In situations where coverage is limited by prevailing conditions, additional base stations can be "daisy-chained" together using 3-pair, 22 Ga. twisted cable.

Check out  www.laner.com/wpr.htm.
This is a News Release on one of Laner Electric's use of wireless.



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Last modified: September 27, 2000