Tracking goods from ‘cradle to grave’

A new inventory management system developed and patented by a Missouri S&T computer engineer virtually eliminates frequency interference issues at facilities that use RFID (radio frequency identification) readers to manage inventories and track products.

“Our system reads and manages inventory in real time with a nearly 99 percent read rate,” says Jagannathan Sarangapani, the William A. Rutledge-Emerson Electric Distinguished Professor in Electrical Engineering. “Previous systems had only a 60 to 70 percent read rate.”
Sarangapani says RFID systems allow goods to be tracked from “cradle to grave,” recording the chain of custody from the point of manufacture of all the product’s components, to the point the consumer receives it.
Facilities that use RFID systems have a network of distributed scanners that read radio frequency chips or tags that are incorporated into or attached to products or materials within them.
A number of factors can affect the ability of RFID readers to successfully read product tags. “Tag interference” occurs when multiple readers attempt to read a tag at the same time. “Reader collision” occurs when multiple readers are used and a carrier signal from one reader interferes with another. Reader collision makes the tags unreadable and lowers overall read rates.
Sarangapani and his associates overcame these challenges by developing software that activates and deactivates adjacent RFID readers within the facility based on the tagged product’s location. The software also queries an inventory database based on information collected from the item’s tag.
“If shelves are empty of a product, or if a product is about to expire, it will alert the system,” Sarangapani says. “Employees can also track when the next shipment is coming.”
An additional benefit of the new system is its ability to read tags on frozen goods. “Many chemicals and medicines must be kept refrigerated or frozen,” Sarangapani says. “Other systems cannot read tags on frozen items, so they have to be thawed first to be inventoried. Thawing sometimes makes the product unusable and it must be destroyed.”
Also named on the patent are Anil Ramachandran, MS ECE’07, Kainan Cha, ECE’04, MS ECE’06, and Can Saygin, a former S&T professor who is now with the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Around the Puck

Generous partners complete ACML fundraising

Thanks to an investment from the University of Missouri System, major gifts from industry partners and alumni support, S&T will break ground on the Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory (ACML) on Oct. 12, during Homecoming weekend.

[Read More...]

Alumni help with sesquicentennial planning

Seven alumni, including three Miner Alumni Association board members, have been named to Missouri S&T’s sesquicentennial advisory committee. The group is made up of graduates, students, faculty, staff and community members who are involved in planning the university’s upcoming 150th anniversary celebration.

[Read More...]

Using big data to reduce childbirth risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, complications during pregnancy or childbirth affect more than 50,000 women annually, and about 700 of them die every year. Steve Corns, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering, is working with researchers from Phelps County Regional Medical Center through the Ozarks Biomedical Initiative to reduce […]

[Read More...]

Bogan solves Benton mural mystery

Missouri State Capitol muralist Thomas Hart Benton wrote in his memoir about being called into then-Gov. Guy Park’s office and told that a prominent St. Louis politician objected to Benton’s portrayal of black people, especially depictions of slavery.

[Read More...]

Breaking bias

According to Jessica Cundiff, assistant professor of psychological science at S&T, women who consider careers in the physical sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are deterred by stereotypes that impose barriers on the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in STEM.

[Read More...]