When Carl Closmore, the lab supervisor at Medtronic's Electronic System Design division, in Mounds View, Minn., considered ways to help him locate any of the 2,600 electronic tools in use at his three laboratories, he visited other companies that similarly manage large numbers of tools, in order to view how they addressed the problem. What he found was that other labs had similar difficulties-determining a tool's whereabouts was often done visually, by looking around engineers' workstations and under papers, and sending out mass e-mails. Locating tools required for calibration or maintenance purposes could take weeks, and even then, not every item could be retrieved. It seemed to be an issue that plagued many labs, Closmore says, noting that the "inability to locate equipment in a timely manner decreases productivity and morale."
Therefore, with the help of an automatic-identification systems integrator, Closmore began designing an RFID solution that he could use to track down items within the labs, as well as know when any equipment is removed from one of the three sites-and by whom.
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