Why tools giant Stanley formed a joint venture to tackle big data and IoT
By Stephen Ellison, Contributing Writer
When Stanley Black and Decker, the tools and hardware giant, last year formed a joint venture with RF Controls, a software startup focused on using RFID tags to track things, it was a bet on the future growth of big data and the Internet of Things. But in the near-term, the collaboration was focused on a very concrete business proposition: helping manufacturers, retailers and logistics firms automatically count and monitor items that pass through their facilities, something that today consumes a vast amount of worker time and energy.
Most RFID (radio-frequency identification) systems today use handheld devices or door-affixed portals to capture “snapshots in time,” says Steve Hudson, CEO of the joint venture company, View Technologies, based in Marietta, Georgia. View’s overhead-mounted antenna – strategically placed in manufacturing plants, distribution centers or big-box retail stores – continuously identifies tagged items within a 150-foot range. That’s 10 times as far as any other RFID tracker, Hudson says. Combined with the company’s software, called the inView Platform, the system captures and stores real-time data, creating a more effective way for companies to follow the items being stored as well as movable assets in the facility.
“It provides a 3-D location of the tagged item using the same tags used with other RFID technology, so we can leverage what’s already in the supply chain,” Hudson explains. “It really is disruptive. There’s just nothing like it out there.”
The technology has been tested or deployed in all three of View’s target markets – manufacturing, logistics and retail, Hudson says. One example customer cited in RFID Journal is a company involved in aircraft maintenance and repair. There, the system reads tags attached to an aircraft or the tools being used on that aircraft. The data stream that it produces enables the company to better manage the locations of parts and tools, as well as determine the stage of an item’s maintenance or repair based on its location.