Case Studies Demonstrating RFID, Self-Check and Materials Handling Best Practices

One of my clients requested that I put together some case studies that would demonstrate Best Practices for implementing RFID, self-check, and automated materials handling. I was able to put together two excellent examples of how to do it right. 

Johnson County Case Study

This case study was written based on a document prepared by JCL staff after their RFID implementation. It was their own evaluation of the process so it includes a description of things they did right and what they could have done better.  It provides great information on how to plan and manage the implementation and includes useful and impressive outcome metrics.

MidContinent Library System Case Study

This case study was written based on telephone interviews with the staff.  They describe another excellent process for implementing automated materials handling and then RFID and self-check. Even though I recommend implementing RFID before AMH, this process worked well for them and they are now achieving 90% self-check use systemwide. 

Library RFID and AMH Consultation

Wide range of consulting services related to RFID and automated materials handling including analysis of 33 of the Library’s 37 outlets, recommendations for AMH configurations at each location as well as identification of impediments to using AMH or RFID, cost-benefit analyses, market analysis of RFID and AMH vendors, case studies demonstrating best practices, and presentation of findings from study and recommendations.

RFID and Materials Handling Consultation and Procurement

Consultation with Carlsbad City Library to evaluate their three branches for the purpose of upgrading their RFID and materials handling system. They had legacy tags (not compliant with current standards) and a very old sorter at one location. They were looking for help with options for upgrading their system while preserving their investment as much as possible.  

RFID and AMH in Libraries: State of the Art

Since the late 1980’s, libraries have been slowly adopting RFID (radio frequency identification) technology as a supplement to barcodes for library material identification and also as a way to replace legacy EM (electro-magnetic) security technologies (e.g. security strips).   RFID provides a single system for efficiently checking in, checking out, and securing library material and because it is based on radiowave technology, it does not require line-of-sight.  Unlike barcodes, which must be scanned one a time, multiple RFID-tagged items can be set on an RFID pad and checked in or checked out.

RFID helps staff work faster and more ergonomically than one-at-a-time barcode systems.  RFID  is also easier for patrons to use at the self-check-out machines.  Not only can staff and patrons check-out multiple items at a time, patrons are also less likely to be confused by the self-check-out process (e.g. distinguishing between barcodes and ISBN tags).

Although there are several benefits to using RFID, adoption has been slow because of the cost of implementing RFID systems and also because the technology was lacking key standards that made investing in RFID somewhat risky – until fairly recently. 

Leaning Your Library's Material Handling Workflows

Presentation at ALA Conference in Las Vegas (2014). Sponsored by the Public Library Association. I really enjoyed doing this presentation because the crowd was very engaged. Got lots of good ideas from them. Thanks to all who attended!

The presentation introduces Lean and provides some ideas about how to look at library materials handling workflows with a Lean, customer-centric focus where the customer may be internal (co-worker) or external (patron).  Introduced concepts of Visual Management and 5S from Lean and identified where "waste" happens in libraries.

RFID and AMH Opportunities to Improve Patron Experience at Dayton Metro Library

Dayton Metro Library has embarked on a series of initiatives that will transition the library from a 22-outlet system with book-centered spaces to a 17-outlet system designed to better serve the diverse needs of the Montgomery County community.

The Library contracted with The Galecia Group for help evaluating the potential benefits of using new technologies to create optimized workflows for staff and improve the customer experience.

The contract included assessing the benefits, costs, and return on investment of RFID and materials handling technologies. In addition, the project included a process in which staff would learn more about the technology and participate in a series of activities that would help them envision how RFID, sorters, self check-in, and self check-out, could be employed to free up staff time and library spaces allowing staff to focus on the evolving needs of their patrons and better serve their communities.  

Alameda County Materials Handling Evaluation

Worked with Alameda County Libraries to evaluate the materials handling operations and workflows including staffing, procedures, use of spaces and technology and interlibrary delivery. Preliminary recommendation was to form a Materials Handling Task Force to further tease out materials handling issues and identify suitable solutions for the Library while developing staff engagement in the solutions. Engagement was concluded with the Task Force submitting materials handling recommendations to Executive Team.

Free Consulting Available at ALA Chicago

If you are going to ALA in Chicago, you might want to take advantage of free consulting from one of the 15-20 consultants that will be providing free consulting sessions during the Consultants Give Back session.  

Find the consultant who can help you at /.  If you find someone with the right skills for your project, contact them and make an appointment ahead of time. There are some drop-in options but most of the consultants require appointments.

Salt Lake City RFID and Materials Handling Project

Lori Ayre assisted in the selection of an RFID/AMH vendor and planning for the implementation. The project included vendor selection, RFID conversion, selecting and sizing equipment (self-check-ins, self-check-outs, sorters, staff stations), planning remodels, and working with vendor. Cheryl Gould worked with the Library to help define their service model to support their goal of 100% self-check-out.