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Rentex Taps HID Global for AV Rental Asset Tracking with RAIN RFID

Rentex needed something better than barcodes for managing audio-video rental inventory. It turned to HID Global for a RAIN RFID solution featuring Impinj tag chips.

Lights, camera, action! RAIN RFID takes the stage

When a film production, convention, or concert comes to town, they rely on Rentex for the professional audio-visual and computer equipment they need to put on a good show. A single rental contract with Rentex, one of the largest professional audio-visual and computer rental companies in the United States, might include more than 1,000 items of all different shapes, sizes, and materials: cables, connectors, cameras, lights, microphones, mixers, laptops, projectors, projector screens, and much more. 

Using an inventory management system based on barcodes and manual data transfer, Rentex employees found themselves spending too much time searching for items, scanning them one by one, inputting data, and often dealing with labels that were damaged or simply missing. It was a tedious and time-consuming process that was prone to human error. With hundreds of thousands of rental items across 10 facilities in the U.S., Rentex needed a better way.

In 2020, Rentex turned to Impinj partner Vizinex, now a part of Impinj partner HID Global, for a solution based on RAIN RFID tags and readers. By tagging each rental item with RAIN RFID tags featuring Impinj M750 RAIN RFID tag chips, Rentex was able to dramatically speed up its processes and cut down on errors.

Benefits of the RAIN RFID inventory solution from HID Global:  

The image showcases two robust HID Sentry Cables with model numbers AST1-163
  • 95% speed increase in inventory and searching processes
  • Near-100% accuracy in reading inventory 
  • Ability to read many items at once without direct line-of-sight
  • Better tag dependability in poor conditions and rough handling 
  • Automation that allows employees to focus on customer satisfaction and company objectives

HID Global tags + Impinj chips = speed and dependability

Rentex had several special requirements for the solution’s design. The RAIN RFID tags had to be readable when attached to equipment of unusual shapes, materials, and qualities. For instance, a pile of insulated metal audio-video cables of various diameters, all coiled up at a staging area, is not a friendly environment for precise radio communication. Tags also had to withstand the rough treatment AV equipment often gets on location, and had to work in variable indoor and outdoor environments.

HID Global selected two tags for the Rentex solution: Sentry Cable Tag and Sentry Duo Tag, which are purpose-built for AV equipment like cables, flight cases, and speakers. Featuring the Impinj M750 RAIN RFID tag chip, the HID Global Sentry tags delivered the performance along with the ruggedness Rentex required. 

“Rentex tested this by placing a tag on a metal plate and hitting it with a ball-peen hammer,” states an HID Global feature on the solution. “It withstood three crushing blows of significant force before the tag stopped transmitting. These forces were significantly higher than anything the tags would encounter during normal use.”

Rentex deployed the HID Global solution to all 10 locations. It took time to tag over 200,000 rental items spread across the country, but Rentex saw an immediate impact.

How the HID Global RFID asset tracking solution works:

  • HID Global Sentry Cable Tags are attached to insulated metal cables.
  • HID Global Sentry Duo Tags tags are affixed to other rental assets.
  • Employees use handheld RFID readers to read the tags, which feature tiny Impinj M750 RAIN RFID tag chips with identifying information for each asset. Battery-free RAIN RFID tags are energized by the radio waves from a RAIN RFID reader and use an antenna to transmit data.
  • To help employees locate assets, the handheld readers emit a pinging sound as they get closer to the target item. 
  • Employees read tagged items before loading them for delivery, then confirm orders without reopening containers. Because RAIN RFID doesn’t require direct line-of-sight, hundreds of items can be read per second. 
  • When rental items are returned, employees use RFID readers to automatically enter all assets back into inventory. 

Rentex all-in on RFID thanks to HID Global and Impinj

In no time, Rentex saw the power of RAIN RFID and the Impinj platform: It makes time-consuming, manual jobs more efficient and more accurate at enterprise scale, enabling companies to improve operations and focus on customer satisfaction.

With two years of high volume usage now, we are still very pleased with our implementation of RFID,” Rentex Chief Technology Officer Marcus DeLuco said. “It has been so effective that we have outlined a long-term development path to further leverage the capabilities of RFID, and stay at the leading edge of the technology.”

Impinj M750 in the spotlight

It’s no larger than a grain of sand, but the Impinj M750 RAIN RFID tag chip at the heart of the HID Global Sentry tags is what makes the AV solution rock and roll. Impinj M700 series tag chips bring game-changing advancements to RAIN RFID. Ideal for large-scale, global deployments, the chips deliver high-performance, quality, and reliability.   

Performance without direct line-of-sight

One of the main reasons Rentex considered RAIN RFID was that it, unlike barcodes, requires no direct line-of-sight to read tagged items. RAIN RFID readers use radio waves that can travel through materials like cardboard and plastic, so they can read every individual item already packed up in boxes for delivery. The high performance of Impinj M750 tag chips makes it possible to read tags that are attached to radio-unfriendly items like coiled insulated cable.

Inventory time slashed by over 95%

By switching to RAIN RFID from its old system based on barcodes and manual data transfer, Rentex dramatically optimized many workflows. In one case, Rentex used RFID to reduce a process that took two people 2.5 hours down to a 15-minute operation by one person — a 95% drop in time and labor. In another case, Rentex replaced a 22-minute check-in process with one that took 10 seconds — a staggering 99% reduction.

Near-100% accuracy and visibility

Barcodes and manual data entry are time-intensive and prone to error. RAIN RFID solutions offer better than 99% accuracy in reading and writing data. “Making a mistake can be really costly for everyone involved,” Vizinex CEO Ken Horton told RFID & Wireless IoT. “If you're in the Arizona desert filming and you find out that the cable that you've received is the right cable, but instead of being 50 feet long it’s 25 feet long, it can potentially shut down production.”

HID Global and the Impinj Partner Network

An Impinj gold partner, HID Global is a leading RFID smart component supplier for systems integrators, application developers, and OEMs serving a variety of markets, including logistics, waste management, returnable transport items (RTI), asset tracking, automation, medical, laundry, and animal identification. You can check out HID Global on the Impinj Partner Directory, and learn more about the Impinj Partner Network.  

Friday, March 24, 2023


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