WO2014127779A1 - A workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear - Google Patents

A workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear

Info

Publication number
WO2014127779A1
WO2014127779A1 PCT/DK2013/050047 DK2013050047W WO2014127779A1 WO 2014127779 A1 WO2014127779 A1 WO 2014127779A1 DK 2013050047 W DK2013050047 W DK 2013050047W WO 2014127779 A1 WO2014127779 A1 WO 2014127779A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
uhf rfid
workwear
depot
user
individual
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/DK2013/050047
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Klaus NISSEN
Lasse ALMGREN-JENSEN
Original Assignee
Berendsen A/S
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/08Logistics, e.g. warehousing, loading, distribution or shipping; Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement or balancing against orders
    • G06Q10/087Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement, balancing against orders

Abstract

A workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear comprises a stock facility (1) for the workwear and the pieces of workwear (15) are individually marked with an UHF RFID tag (17). The system further comprises a user identification reader and an UHF RFID reader (9), and a computer facility (19) for registration and storage of information obtained therefrom regarding which pieces of workwear (15) are delivered to which users. A confined area (3) is provided with a gate (3) for personal entrance or exit, a UHF RFID scanner (7) is provided to monitor said gate (3), and the computer facility (19) is arranged to control a status value of UHF RFID tags (17) registered by the UHF RFID scanner (7) and to select a consequence according to the status value of the UHF RFID tags (17) registered by the UHF RFID scanner (7).

Description

A workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear

The present invention relates to a workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear, where pieces of workwear are individually marked with an individual RFID tag, said depot comprising a stock facility for the workwear, a user identification reader, an RFID reader, and a computer facility for registration of information obtained by the user identification reader and the RFID reader and storage of information regarding which pieces of workwear are delivered to which users.

Workwear depot and stock systems for delivery and control of work- wear are e.g. used in firms and institutions where workwear is provided by the employer or institution for the employees or co-workers. The employee or coworker, i.e. the users, will obtain workwear from the depot and will return the workwear for laundry after use. In order to avoid loss of workwear it is registered which pieces of workwear or garments are delivered to which users.

It should be noted that herein generally a garment is used as a pseudonym for a piece of workwear.

The garments may be pooled, i.e. the stock contains a number of re- spective sorts of garment in a number of relevant sizes, and a user needing a garment will receive an arbitrary garment of the relevant sort and, when relevant, of a specified size. Alternatively the garments may be personalized to be delivered only to a special user. Personalized and pooled garments may be mixed in the depot, whereby certain sorts of garments are pooled and other sorts are personalized. E.g. t-shirts and sweat-shirts might be pooled while coats and pants might be personalized.

In some firms and institutions the employees and co-workers, i.e. the users, are required to change wear on a regular basis. Using a depot with registration of which garments are delivered to which user provide a possibil- ity of controlling that the individual users or employees and co-workers do in fact get the garments they need to change wear as required. A known automatic workwear depot and stock system is marketed by Berendsen under the trademark UNIMAT. This system comprises a conveyor system with hangers carrying garments in an area with restricted access. Outside this area a terminal is provided where users may register themselves, indicate which garments they wish to obtain and the conveyor system will transport the required garment to a delivery station from where the user may pick it up. Thus this automatic workwear depot and stock system provides a self-service workwear depot. A soiled garment return station is provided for the users to return the garments for laundry whereby the soiled garment re- turn station will register the return of the garments. Each garment has a unique identification through the RFID tag and accordingly the users do not need to identify themselves when returning garments to make sure that the system registers that the garments delivered to the specific user are returned. A drawback of this system is the costs involved with the complicated con- veyor system.

Another known workwear depot and stock system of the art mentioned by way of introduction is marketed by Berendsen under the trade name TT-Scan. This system comprise an attended counter where an attendant may assist the users obtaining the garments they need and the attendant will take care of registering through a terminal the respective user and the garments delivered to him or her. This system avoids the complicated conveyor system of the UNIMAT system, but requires an attendant for which reason the system will usually only be accessible at special hours, whereas the UNIMAT system being automatic may be accessible 24 hours-a-day. A soiled garment return station similar to the soiled garment return station described in relation to the UNIMAT system is provided for the TT-Scan system.

The above two prior art systems employ LF or HF RFID tags, which are readable at relatively short distances only.

It is the object of the invention provide a workwear depot and stock system of the art mentioned by way of introduction by which the drawbacks of the above prior art systems are avoided or reduced.

This is obtained in that the individual RFID tags are individual UHF RFID tags and said RFID reader is a UHF RFID reader, that the computer facility is arranged to attach at least one status value to the individual UHF RFID tags, that a confined area is provided with a gate for personal entrance or exit, that a UHF RFID scanner is provided to monitor said gate, and that the computer facility is arranged to control the at least one status value of the individual UHF RFID tags registered by the UHF RFID scanner and to select a consequence according to the at least one status value of the individual UHF RFID tags registered by the UHF RFID scanner. A return facility of any kind for soiled garments for laundry will be provided. Using UHF (Ultra High Frequency, 860 to 960 MHz) technology instead of LF (Low Frequency, e.g. 125 kHz) or HF (High Frequency, e.g. 13.56 MHz) it is obtained that the RFID tags may be read by a RFID scanner at sufficient distance to enable monitoring a gate for personal entrance or exit and entry and/or exit through the gate may be controlled.

In an embodiment the stock facility, the user identification reader and the UHF RFID reader are provided in a confined depot area with an exit gate monitored by a depot exit UHF RFID scanner, and the computer facility is arranged to control whether the at least one status value attached to an individual UHF RFID tag registered by the depot exit UHF RFID scanner indicates that said individual UHF RFID tag registered by the depot exit UHF RFID scanner is delivered to a user. Thus the computer facility is arranged to control whether the individual UHF RFID tags registered by the depot exit UHF RFID scanner are registered as delivered to a user and to provide a consequence if an individual UHF RFID tag, and the pieces of workwear to which they are attached, registered by the UHF RFID scanner is not registered as delivered to a user. Hereby it is possible to provide the depot as an unattended self-service depot where employees or co-workers, i.e. users, pick-up garments, register themselves and register the garments they have picked-up before leaving the depot, which may be open 24 hours-a-day.

In an embodiment the consequence selected by the computer facility according to the at least one status value of the individual UHF RFID tags registered by the UHF RFID scanner is one or more consequences selected from a group of possible consequences comprising: taking no action, releasing an audio signal, displaying a visual signal, activating a camera, and sending a message. Thus when a user has regularly picked up garments, registered him- or herself and registered the garments before leaving through the gate, the consequence will be taking no action. If a user (or a person not registered as a user) removes a garment not registered correctly the consequence selected by the computer facility may be one or more of releasing an audio signal, e.g. to sound an alarm; displaying a visual signal, e.g. by displaying a text sign or flashing a light; activating a camera, e.g. to take a pic- ture or record a video sequence of the gate and the person at the gate; and sending a message, e.g. to a person responsible for the workwear depot.

In an embodiment the computer facility is arranges to keep an account of pieces of workwear for each user and to attach a credit maximum for pieces of workwear to the account of a user. The credit maximum may relate to a total amount of garments that may be delivered to the user at any time or the credit maximum may refer to what number(s) of specific sorts or types of garment may be delivered to the user at any time. Further the credit maximum may involve which types of garment may be delivered to the user in question, if restrictions are applied in that respect. E.g. personalized garments dedicated to one user must not be delivered to (picked up and registered by) another user.

In a further embodiment the user identification reader and the UHF RFID reader are comprised by a user terminal for the user to communicate with the computer facility. Thus the user may be able to check his or her ac- count to see how many garments are available before garments already delivered need to be returned to the system (for laundry).

In an embodiment at least one soiled garment return unit is provided for users to return delivered workwear to the system, and the at least one soiled garment return unit is provided with a soiled garment return UHF RFID reader for registration of pieces of workwear inserted into the soiled garment return unit. This provides a simple and automatic return facility for the users to return garments for laundry when used and soiled. A soiled garment return unit may be placed outside a depot room to avoid contamination of the garments in the stock facility from the soiled garments, and more soiled garment return units may be placed at convenient positions e.g. in changing rooms or locker rooms for the employees or co-workers.

In an embodiment several confined areas with gates monitored by

UHF RFID scanners are provided, and the computer facility is arranged to update the status value of the individual UHF RFID tags registered by the UHF RFID scanner monitoring the gate of one of said several confined areas. Hereby it is possible to monitor which garments are or has been present in specified areas.

In an embodiment a restricted access area comprises a gate with an access control and a UHF RFID scanner monitoring the gate of the restricted access area, and the computer facility is arranged to control at least one of said at least one status value(s) and to take said status value into account when deciding on allowing or refusing access to the restricted access area. Hereby a person's access to the restricted access area may depend on the allowability of garments into the restricted access area, e.g. entry may not be allowed if the restricted access area is a clean area and the garment(s) has previously entered a non-clean area and accordingly is marked with a status value indicating so, or access may be allowed only if special garment(s) having a special status value are present.

In the following the invention will be explained in further detail by way of example having reference to the accompanying schematic drawings, in which

Fig. 1 illustrates a workwear depot and stock system,

Fig. 2 shows an entrance and exit gate,

Fig. 3 illustrates a part of a stock facility,

Fig. 4 illustrates a piece of workwear,

Fig. 5 shows a user terminal,

Fig. 6 shows a soiled garment return unit, and

Fig. 7 illustrates a confined area with restricted access.

Referring to Figs. 1 to 6 an embodiment of a workwear depot and stock system according to the invention comprises a stock facility 1 placed in a confined depot area, namely a depot room 3 with a depot door or gate 5 for personal entrance and exit. The depot door 5 is monitored by a depot exit UHF RFID scanner 7 schematically indicated by an oval. Inside the depot room 3 a number of user terminals 9 are provided. In the embodiment shown in Fig. 1 four user terminals 9 are provided.

The depot exit UHF RFID scanner 7 comprises UHF RFID reader antennas that are shown in more detail in Fig. 2, which shows the depot door 5 from the inside of the depot room. On either side of the depot door 5 two UHF RFID reader antennas 71 are provided and above the depot door 5 a fifth UHF RFID reader antenna 71 is provided. Such UHF RFID reader antennas are known per se and are e.g. provided by the company Impinj, Inc.

In the embodiment shown the stock facility 1 comprises a number of carts 1 1 with shelves 13 parked in an area of the depot room 3. As indicated in Fig. 3 the carts 1 1 may be loaded with folded-up workwear garments 15, such as T-shirts 15a (see Fig. 4) and each garment 15, 15a is provided with an individual UHF RFID tag 17. The garments may comprise all sorts of garment needed by users, i.e. employees and co-workers at the site, i.e. institution, firm, etc., where the workwear depot and stock system is installed. Thus the garments may e.g. comprise T-shirts, sweatshirts, shirts, jackets, coats, pants, hats, etc.

UHF RFID tags such as the UHF RFID tags 17 are known per se and are e.g. provided by the companies Datamars SA and Tagsys.

The workwear depot and stock system comprises a computer facility indicated at 19. This might be a dedicated computer, but usually the work- wear depot and stock system will be served by a general computer or computer network at the site of installation. The computer facility 19 maintains a list 21 with status values of the garments 15 or individual UHF RFID tags 17 attached thereto and a list 23 of accounts of the users, i.e. registered users, of the garments 15.

At the depot door 5 several items are indicated in Fig. 1 , namely a sounding body 25, a display screen 27 for displaying information, a lamp 29, and a camera 31 watching the depot door 5 from the outside of the depot room 3.

Outside the depot room 3 a hallway 33 is passing and across the hallway two changing rooms are placed, namely a women's changing room 35 and a men's changing room 37. In either changing room a soiled garment return unit 39 is provided the function of which will be described herein below.

Fig. 5 shows one of the user terminals 9 in further detail. The user terminal 9 comprises a UHF RFID reader comprising a UHF RFID reader antenna 43 embedded in a table 41 , a user identification reader, which in the present embodiment is a magnetic card reader embedded in a slot 45, and a display screen, which in the present embodiment is a touch screen 47, i.e. a touch sensitive screen, to provide for a user to communicate with the system. In an alternative embodiment a key board might be provided. Also in an alternative embodiment the user identification reader might be provided by the touch screen or the keyboard providing for a user to enter personal identification information, such a PIN (Personal Identification Number) code or password, an RFID reader for reading a personal smart cart might be provide as the user identification reader, which might even be the UHF RFID reader antenna 43 embedded in the table 41 , or a combination magnetic card or smart card reader and entering of personal identification information through the touch screen or a keyboard, etc might provide the user identification reader, such combinations being known per se.

Fig. 6 shows the soiled garment return unit 39, which comprises a container 48 for collecting soiled or used garments, an input opening 49 for insertion of soiled or used garments, a soiled garment return UHF RFID reader antenna 51 of a soiled garment return UHF RFID reader and a display screen 53.

In an embodiment the workwear depot and stock system described so far functions as follows:

Service personnel will maintain the stock of garments in the stock facility 1 by replenishing with garments received from a laundry, apart from which the depot room 3 may be unattended. A user needing a garment will inter the depot room 3 through the depot door 5, select the pursued garment 15 in the stock facility 1 , i.e. on the shelves 13 of the carts 1 1 , and go to one of the user terminals 9. At the user terminal 9 the user will identify her- or himself to the system by sliding her or his identity cart through the slot 45 and possibly read in a PIN code via the touch screen 47. The user will place the selected garment 15 on the table 41 for the UHF RFID reader antenna 43 to read the UHF RFID tag 17 attached to the garment 15.

The computer facility 19 will search the account of the user and display to the user, which garments are already delivered to the user, and the garment, indicated by an item number, a sort and a size, laying on the table 41 and registered by the reading of its UHF RFID tag 17. If a credit maximum of garments allowed to be delivered to the user at a given time is registered in the computer facility 19, which credit maximum might be based on total garments or individual sorts of garment, such credit maximum and a residual number of available garments might be displayed. If such credit maximum has not been exceeded by the garment placed on the table 41 the user will be requested to indicate via the touch screen 47 that the garment on the table 41 should be added to the user's account.

If a credit maximum is exceeded by the garment on the table 41 the user may be requested to return the garment to the stock facility 1 . In an alternative embodiment the credit maximum may be exceeded when a message is sent to a person in charge, and the user will be requested to accept such message to be sent or to return the garment to the stock facility 1 .

Upon the user's confirmation the garment on the table 41 will be added to the user's account and a status value attached to the garment 15 and its UHF RFID tag 17 will be updated to indicate that the garment is delivered to a user.

More garments may be placed on the table 41 simultaneously and the UHF RFID reader antenna 43 will simultaneously read all the UHF RFID tags 17 of the garments 15 present on the table 41 and process the information as indicated above.

Having thus registered the selected garment(s) as delivered the user will exit the depot room through the depot door 5 and the depot exit UHF RFID scanner 7 will register the UHF RFID tag(s) 17 of the garment(s) 15 carried along by the user. The computer facility will check that in the list 21 the status value(s) of the UHF RFID tag(s) 17 registered by the depot exit UHF RFID scanner 7 indicate that the attached garments 15 are registered as delivered to a user. When this is the case no further action is taken by the computer facility in that respect. If a garment 15, whose UHF RFID tag(s) 17 is registered by the depot exit UHF RFID scanner 7, is not registered as delivered to a user the computer facility will release one or more consequences such as: sounding an alarm through the sounding body 25, display a message on the display screen 27 indicating to the user the presence of a not correctly registered garment, flashing the lamp 29, and taking a picture or recording a video sequence by means of the camera 31 . Also the computer facility may send a message, such as an e-mail, to a person responsible for the depot.

When the user want to return a soiled garment for laundry this is done through one of the soiled garment return units 39. More soiled garment return units 39 may be placed at the site where the workwear depot and stock system is installed to the convenience of the users. Thus in the embodiment shown a soiled garment return unit 39 is placed in either of the women's changing room 35 and the men's changing room 37 shown in Fig. 1 . By placing the soiled garment return units 39 outside the depot room 3 the clean and the soiled garments are kept apart.

The display screen 53 of the soiled garment return unit 39 will indi- cate when the unit is ready to receive a garment. When the soiled garment return unit 39 is ready the user will insert a garment 15 through the input opening 49 and when the garment is safe inside the soiled garment return UHF RFID reader antenna 51 will register the UHF RFID tag 17 of the garment 15 and the computer facility will remove the garment from the users ac- count and update the status value for the UHF RFID tag 17 in the list 21 to indicate that the garment is returned for laundry. The update of the status value may be indicated on the display screen 53 of the soiled garment return unit 39.

Fig. 7 indicates as an example an embodiment of an alternative use of control relative to a confined area by means of the individual UHF RFID tags 17.

Thus Fig. 7 shows an aisle 55 and two confined areas, namely two rooms, a clean room 57 and an unclean room 59 having respective gates for personal entrance or exit, i.e. doors 61 and 63. The clean room 57 is a restricted access room and accordingly a person identification reader 65 is provided outside the clean room door 61 . Further at the outside of the clean room door 61 a UHF RFID scanner 67 is provided.

At the unclean room door 63 a second UHF RFID scanner 69 is provided to register UHF RFID tags 17 of garment 15 worn by persons entering or exiting the unclean room 59 upon which the computer facility 19 will update the status values for the UHF RFID tags 17 in the list 21 to indicate that such garments has been into the unclean room 59 (since last laundry).

Garments 17 that have been present in the unclean room 59 (since last laundry) are not allowed into the clean room 57. Accordingly when a person, i.e. a user, seeks to open the clean room door 61 through the person identification reader 65 the UHF RFID scanner 67 outside the clean room door 61 will search UHF RFID tags 17 in the garments worn by the user and the computer facility 19 will through the list 21 check the status values of the UHF RFID tags 17 registered by the UHF RFID scanner 67, and in case such status values indicate that the garments have been into the unclean room 59 (since last laundry) access will be denied.

Claims

P A T E N T C L A I M S
1. A workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear, where pieces of workwear (15) are individually marked with an individual RFID tag (17), said depot comprising a stock facility (1) for the work- wear, a user identification reader (45), an RFID reader (43), and a computer facility (19) for registration of information obtained by the user identification reader (45) and the RFID reader (43) and storage of information regarding which pieces of workwear (15) are delivered to which users, characterized in
that the individual RFID tags are individual UHF RFID tags (17) and said RFID reader is a UHF RFID reader (43),
that the computer facility (19) is arranged to attach at least one status value to the individual UHF RFID tags (17),
that a confined area (3; 57) is provided with a gate (3; 61) for per- sonal entrance or exit,
that a UHF RFID scanner (7; 67) is provided to monitor said gate (3;
61), and
that the computer facility (19) is arranged to control the at least one status value of the individual UHF RFID tags (17) registered by the UHF RFID scanner (7; 67) and to select a consequence according to the at least one status value of the individual UHF RFID tags (17) registered by the UHF RFID scanner (7; 67).
2. A workwear depot and stock system according to claim 1 , characterized in
that the stock facility (1), the user identification reader (45) and the
UHF RFID reader (43) are provided in a confined depot area (3) with an exit gate (5) monitored by a depot exit UHF RFID scanner (7), and
the computer facility (1) is arranged to control whether the at least one status value attached to an individual UHF RFID tag (17) registered by the depot exit UHF RFID scanner (7) indicates that said individual UHF RFID tag (17) registered by the depot exit UHF RFID scanner (7) is delivered to a user.
3. A workwear depot and stock system according to claim 2, characterized in that the consequence selected by the computer facility (19) according to the at least one status value of the individual UHF RFID tags (17) registered by the UHF RFID scanner (7) is one or more conse- quences selected from a group of possible consequences comprising: taking no action, releasing an audio signal (25), displaying a visual signal (27, 29), activating a camera (31), and sending a message.
4. A workwear depot and stock system according to any of the claims 1 to 3, characterized in that at least one soiled garment return unit (39) is provided for users to return delivered workwear to the system, and that the at least one soiled garment return unit (39) is provided with a soiled garment return UHF RFID reader (51) for registration of pieces of workwear (15) inserted into the soiled garment return unit (39).
5. A workwear depot and stock system according to any of the claims 1 to 4, characterized in that the computer facility (19) is arranges to keep an account of pieces of workwear (15) for each user and to attach a credit maximum for pieces of workwear (15) to the account of a user.
6. A workwear depot and stock system according to any of the claims 1 to 5, characterized in that the user identification reader (45) and the UHF RFID reader (43) are comprised by a user terminal (9) for the user to communicate with the computer facility (19).
7. A workwear depot and stock system according to any of the claims 1 to 6, characterized in that several confined areas (57, 59) with gates (61, 63) monitored by UHF RFID scanners (67, 69) are provided, and that the computer facility (19) is arranged to update the status value of the individual UHF RFID tags (17) registered by the UHF RFID scanner (69) monitoring the gate (63) of one of said several confined areas (59).
8. A workwear depot and stock system according to any of the claims 1 to 7, characterized in that a restricted access area (57) comprises a gate (61) with an access control and a UHF RFID scanner (67) monitoring the gate (61) of the restricted access area (57), and that the computer facility (19) is arranged to control at least one of said at least one status value(s) and to take said status value into account when deciding on allowing or refusing access to the restricted access area (57).
PCT/DK2013/050047 2013-02-22 2013-02-22 A workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear WO2014127779A1 (en)

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PCT/DK2013/050047 WO2014127779A1 (en) 2013-02-22 2013-02-22 A workwear depot and stock system for delivery and control of workwear

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
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EP0598624A1 (en) * 1992-11-18 1994-05-25 British Technology Group Limited Detection of multiple articles
US6195006B1 (en) * 1997-07-24 2001-02-27 Checkpoint Systems Inc. Inventory system using articles with RFID tags
US20090313142A1 (en) * 2008-06-12 2009-12-17 Toshiba Tec Kabushiki Kaisha Information providing device, computer-readable recording medium, and store system
US20110304433A1 (en) * 2010-06-14 2011-12-15 Molewyk Steven P Towel tracking system

Patent Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0598624A1 (en) * 1992-11-18 1994-05-25 British Technology Group Limited Detection of multiple articles
US6195006B1 (en) * 1997-07-24 2001-02-27 Checkpoint Systems Inc. Inventory system using articles with RFID tags
US20090313142A1 (en) * 2008-06-12 2009-12-17 Toshiba Tec Kabushiki Kaisha Information providing device, computer-readable recording medium, and store system
US20110304433A1 (en) * 2010-06-14 2011-12-15 Molewyk Steven P Towel tracking system

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