RFID Case Study: Allentown
Staying ahead of the competition by adding innovative RFID capabilities to a market leading offering
Animals are crucial to many forms of medical andcommercial research. In laboratories around the world,managers must manage the number and movement ofvaluable research animals. Unfortunately, the traditionalmethods of counting research animals are costly,laborious and prone to errors.
The professionals at Allentown, Inc. knew there had to bea better way. As providers of systems and solutions for thehousing of research animals, Allentown was searching fora more efficient, automated way to count and inventoryresearch animals. They found that solution by forminga collaborative partnership with the asset managementexperts at Xterprise.
By harnessing the power of RIFD technology, Allentown gives laboratory managers tight control over these important animal assets.
Tracking Animal Assets
In research facilities that rely on animal test subjects, those resources are both important assets and major sources of cost.
To manage those vital assets, research facility managersmust identify and match the animals in their care withthe researchers using those assets, and are required to perform some type of Animal Inventory Management (AIM). More than 60% of all facilities conduct a census ona daily or weekly basis, with another 15% conducting anAIM count on a monthly basis.
The vast majority of research facilities use one of twotraditional census methods: a manual count or a censusbased on barcode reader technology.
Where counts are done manually, staff members go fromroom to room and cage to cage taking handwritten notes,and that data is then laboriously keyed into an Excelspreadsheet or other database. Manual counts do notrequire technology systems or a great deal of training, andthey seem inexpensive. But as facility managers know,manual censuses are in fact labor intensive (and thuscostly) and prone to inaccuracies and data entry errors.
When barcode readers are used, counts are faster and moreaccurate. But most barcode-based systems are still somewhatslow, labor-intensive and difficult to learn. Not surprisingly,surveys of research facilities show that 58% of lab managersare dissatisfied with manual and barcode-based AIM censusmethods. The animal management professionals at Allentownwere seeking a better solution.
Allentown, Inc. is a global leader in research animal housing,and has provided quality products and services to the biomedicalresearch community for more than 40 years. With more than15,000 Individually Ventilated Cage (IVC) installations worldwide,the company specializes in helping biomedical facilities reducethe time and cost of managing their inventory of researchanimals.
To address the shortcomings of traditional AIM methods,Allentown sought a more accurate, cost-effective way to trackand manage research animals and other vivarium assets.
Allentown found the solution to those AIM challenges in acollaborative partnership with the RFID specialists at Xterprise.The companies worked to create an RFID-based solution calledWi-Com Sensus™, a wireless Animal Inventory Managementsystem designed specifically for biomedical research facilities.
Leveraging the same technology used for access key cardsand electronic tolling systems, Wi-Com Sensus gives researchfacilities a more precise, automated way to count their valuableanimal assets. Wi-Com Sensus was developed in direct responseto the needs of Allentown customers, and employs plasticcardholders embedded with RFID tags to streamline the processof taking an animal census.
This software-based approach can be used to manage animalsand animal vendors, to conduct automated and manual animalcounts, and to administer contacts, cost centers, partial protocols,billing statements and reports. The specific RFID-based solutiondeveloped by Allentown and Xterprise can also be used forcage and rack tracking and logging, and for managing bio-safetycabinets, computer equipment, change stations and other assets.
As developed and deployed by Allentown, the Wi-Com Sensus solution uses RFIDchip and antenna circuits sealed inside a Polysulfone cardholder that can be washedand autoclaved. Those RFID cards are attached to animal cages, and the cards thencommunicate wirelessly with fixed, handheld and mobile cart-mounted RFID readers.
At a check-in station, the RFID cardholders and cage are associated with a uniquetracking code. Those coded tags are then used to conduct wireless AIM counts andother asset management activities. A check-out station is provided where RFID cards arecollected, documented and erased for reuse.
A powerful computer workstation stores and processes key data related to AIM functions.Together, this automated approach provides an accurate, cost-effective animal inventorysolution for both researchers and laboratory managers. It is the solution Allentown wasseeking for its research facility clients worldwide.
Working with Xterprise, Allentown created an AIM solution that meets the needs ofresearchers and facility managers.
This RFID-based approach allows Allentown customers to reduce the time and costof required cage counts. In direct comparisons, the Wi-Com census approach wasfaster, more accurate and more consistent than either manual or barcode-readermethods. While the Wi-Com solution does require an initial investment in equipment andinstallation, it dramatically reduced the ongoing cost of census-related labor.
Laboratory managers can leverage this solution to automate animal ID andmanagement, from check-in to check-out and to securely document and report on themovement of those important assets. Forward-looking biomedical firms can now alsouse this system to meet regulatory and compliance requirements by automating the jobof tracking cage movement.
This automated system streamlines the process of counting and tracking researchanimals. As such, this solution is also helping to keep Allentown on the leading edge ofits industry. Download Allentown RFID Case Study