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Auburn University receives national recognition for fostering economic growth, prosperity and innovation

One of the nation’s top higher education associations today recognized Auburn University for leadership in fostering economic growth, prosperity and innovation.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities named Auburn an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, a designation that recognizes the university’s strong commitment to economic engagement and its work with public and private sector partners in Alabama and the region.

“Auburn is in the business of helping people achieve their hopes and dreams, and that’s why we’re committed to working alongside entrepreneurs, industry leaders and government officials as an engine of economic opportunity,” Auburn University President Jay Gogue said.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, or APLU, is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Auburn began the application process for the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation in September and engaged in an extensive self-study which included, among other things, surveys and focus groups with stakeholders from around the state of Alabama. The study found Auburn had a $5.1 billion economic impact on the state economy in 2014 and supports 23,600 jobs, in addition to direct employment.

“We are establishing partnerships and providing support to business and industry with an eye toward spurring growth,” said John Mason, Auburn University vice president for research and economic development. “These relationships benefit our students with learning experiences, while companies benefit from Auburn’s world-class faculty and research.”

A highlight is the university’s engagement with GE Aviation to help bring high-volume additive manufacturing to the GE facility in the city of Auburn, where it will manufacture jet engine fuel nozzles. The facility will be the first of its kind to mass produce additive components for the jet propulsion industry. The university will collaborate on training and industrializing processes as well as developing a curriculum for engineers interested in industrialized additive manufacturing.

Auburn is also home to a 13,000-square-foot Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, Lab focusing on the business and technical implementation of RFID and other new technologies in retail, supply chain management and manufacturing. It is a unique private and academic partnership between major manufacturers and retailers, technology vendors, standards organizations as well as top faculty and researchers from many disciplines.

Auburn is one of 18 universities named in APLU’s third annual class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities and is the only university named in the state of Alabama. Joining Auburn this year are Binghamton University; Clemson University; East Carolina University; Mississippi State University; New Jersey Institute of Technology; New Mexico State University; Ohio University; Southern Illinois University; University of Arizona; University of Kansas; University of Louisville; University of Maryland; University of Nebraska-Lincoln; University of New Mexico; University of South Florida; Utah State University; and Western University.

With a membership of 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research and expanding engagement.

To learn more, visit www.auburn.edu/externalengagement

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Auburn University holds grand opening for its new RFID Lab; announces joint project with Amazon

Auburn University’s new RFID Lab held its grand opening Wednesday, during which Amazon announced a joint project with Auburn to explore the business case for the implementation of RFID within the Amazon supply chain.

At the event, Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said, “RFID is a fascinating technology. As part of this joint project, we are excited to invent new processes and technology using RFID to enhance the experience for customers through better inventory predictability, faster delivery and, ultimately, lower cost. The collaboration presents a unique opportunity for students, faculty and industry to come together in a hands-on and fast-moving real world environment.”

Auburn University’s RFID Lab specializes in the business case and technical implementation of radio frequency identification technology in retail, supply chain and manufacturing settings. The lab draws on the expertise of faculty in Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences and College of Agriculture. In moving to Auburn University in 2014, the lab was reunited with its founder, Harbert College of Business Dean Bill Hardgrave. Hardgrave helped launch the lab at the University of Arkansas in 2005.

Even though its location has changed, the lab has continued to work with leading retail, supply chain, manufacturing and technology companies.

“As the RFID industry expands, it’s important to have as many users engaged in the lab as possible as lessons from one industry often hold true for others,” Auburn University RFID Lab Director Justin Patton said. “Having unique retail partners like Amazon engaged in the lab allows us to focus on the research questions that are most crucial to many different users, and add the academic validation that helps bring maturity to the evolving market.”

Amazon has utilized RFID technology in its fulfillment centers, the massive facilities where customer orders are picked from shelves, moved on conveyers and loaded onto trucks for rapid shipping and delivery. Founded in 1994 and based in Seattle, the company’s footprint includes more than 100 fulfillment centers worldwide.

Located in a former supermarket, the 13,000-square foot Auburn University RFID Lab offers simulated retail, grocery and convenience store space, as well as warehouse and distribution center environments. The Auburn University RFID Lab established the first RFID “tagged item certification program” to assist retail product manufacturers. RFID technology utilizes computer chips smaller than a grain of sand to aid in the wireless tracking of items.

By Troy Johnson

Listeria and Traceability: Auburn Speaks to the Importance of Tracking Food

lab testingOn Friday, April 24, 2015, Inventure Foods, Inc. in Jefferson, Georgia announced a recall of many food items due to listeria, including some found regularly in our freezers such as fresh frozen vegetables and Jamba home smoothie kits. http://www.inventurefoods.com/information/frozenrecall  This announcement adds to the growing list of foods found to contain listeria recently, including Blue Bell Ice Cream and Sabra Classic Hummus.

Listeria is a form of bacteria that causes listeriosis, an infection that can potentially harm newborns, pregnant woman, the elderly, and others whose immune systems are already compromised. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, and gastrointestinal distress. These conditions can be serious for those already in poor health and can lead to life-threatening conditions for the fetuses of pregnant women.

Recent listeria recalls point to the importance of tracking food from its origins to the table. In the 2014 edition of Auburn Speaks, entitled Food Systems, Brian Gibson, Joe Hanna, and Mark Clark overview ways that technology can track foods through supply chain management principles and technological applications. The authors argue that prompt traceability (which they define as the “ability to follow a food product through the processes of production, processing, and distribution”) helps to ensure food safety while allowing farmers, wholesalers, and retailers to track their stocks and improve supply and efficiency.

To limit the impact of contamination like that of listeria, Gibson, Hanna, and Clark recommend implementation of better data gathering techniques that will help authorities quickly identify cases of food similar to those they find to be contaminated. They suggest that two current methods, barcoding and RFID chips, may offer the most immediate solution. Both of these technologies involve placing a marker of some sort on each case of product. This marker can then be scanned to reveal information about the product’s history and handling, including who produced the product, the lot number from which it came, and the packing date.

More consistent and precise data will help authorities trace potentially damaged stock back to its original source. In addition, this information allows authorities to identify all of the produce linked to a source of contamination and eliminate it from supermarket shelves. The authors stress that information is one major method for minimizing the potential dangers of food-borne pathogens like listeria.

To learn more, and to get the stories behind the headlines, check Auburn Speaks: On Food Systems.

To purchase issues from the award-winning Auburn Speaks visit the Auburn Speaks Store.

Auburn RFID Technology could revolutionize Food Safety

Mother and daughter in produce section

Imagine pointing your smart phone at a head of lettuce in the grocery store and having the phone tell you what farm the lettuce came from and that the produce arrived in the grocery store three days ago. What if your phone could even tell you what temperatures the lettuce was exposed to in transit?

Would you pay extra for that lettuce? You bet I would.

This scenario might sound like science fiction, but the technology already exists. It’s called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), the technology already used by some retailers for inventory control.

To learn more, visit: http://www.auburnspeaks.org/2014/04/10/tracing-food-history/