RFID scanners play key role in blood bank tracking

Quickly finding the right blood product among 30,000 bags is never an easy task, especially when bar codes have to be scanned manually in a -35C deep freezer. When a study revealed that RFID would cut costs and increase safety, Spain's Balearic Islands Blood and Tissue Bank (FBSTIB) turned to Barcelona-based Aifos Solutions for an RFID system, and Salo, Finland's Nordic ID for handheld readers that would operate in subarctic temperatures.

Until now, bar code scanning has meant unpacking entire crates of frozen blood bags and scanning or reading up to six labels on each bag in turnno small task with 30,000 bags packed 80 to a cratein a deep freezer. Finding the right bag can take so long that staff members often take crates out of the deep freezer to search for the right bag, putting plasma in jeopardy of thawing. Blood extracted from donors at any of several mobile units in the Balearic Islands follows a complicated journey, requiring up to six bar codes to ensure that red blood cells, plasma or platelets reach the right patient in perfect condition. Then, when a hospital sends over blood parameters, the blood bank has to respond as quickly as possible.

To make the blood tracking and location process faster, safer and more transparent, FBSTIB chose Aifos Solutions, a Barcelona-based RFID systems specialist, to help them move from bar code to RFID. Aifos in turn selected Nordic ID's PL 3000 UHF handheld RFID scanners to find the blood bags that staff members need. The new RFID tags store all informationincluding a record of ambient temperature over timeon each bag's re-recordable 512-bit RFID tag. Equipped with Nordic ID scanners, staff members are able to quickly find blood bags by scanning up to 400 bags per second and drilling down to see all the information associated with any bag.

"The system we have developed promises to pay for itself very quickly in reduced operating costs once the full program launches in August 2010," notes Esteve Jan, Aifos Solutions' COO. "It will also significantly increase safety," he adds, "because donor ID cannot be erased, and other memory banks can only be accessed by those with the correct passwords."

Support and reliability
Working with Nordic ID is a new relationship for Aifos, one the company chose based on equipment tests, but also for strategic reasons. "To tell you the truth, one of the reasons we chose Nordic ID is because they are Finnish," says Esteve Jan. "This project is a very important one for Aifos, and we couldn't afford problems with equipment orders and support. When a Finnish company says an order will arrive in ten days, you can expect it there on the afternoon of the ninth day."

In addition to the handset's light weight, ability to carry a single charge all day and operate at -35C, what Aifos appreciated most was Nordic ID's level of technical support. "At the outset we needed to know that the handset would work in subarctic temperatures," says Jan, "and none of the companies we talked with had tested for that. Nordic ID support personnel did some investigation and explained how, technically, the PL3000 would stand up to the job. That convinced us, and since then support has been excellent."

About Nordic ID
Nordic ID is a manufacturer of mobile computers for data collection. It provides mobile devices for professional use enabling customers to improve their inventory management, customer service, communication and supply chain control. Nordic ID has over 15 years experience in auto ID and mobility, and over 10 years experience in RFID. Nordic ID's RFID products include also PL3000, a heavy-duty product for long-range inventory applications, and HF RFID readers. Nordic ID Morphic RFID is yet another step to show that Nordic ID will continue to develop the existing products. Recently customers such as Gerry Weber, Nokian, Assistor, London Underground, Delhaize and Container Centralen have chosen Nordic ID RFID products.

About Aifos Solutions
Aifos Solutions markets track and trace tools for the healthcare market. Offers full solutions to improve the Blood Supply Chain and Lab Management; enhancing security, efficiency and lowering its operating costs. Aifos Solutions assists the Healthcare Industry in their R&D RFID projects and distributes first class software and hardware; ranging from low-cost RFID tags, readers and antennas to tailored solutions.

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