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Fairfield has now entered the Auto ID arena with gusto.
Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with the companys Auto ID business development manager Lee Wragg (pictured) about the background to the recent developments, the companys core vertical market focuses and the forward-looking solutions sets it offers.
Fairfield is a data mobility, consumables and packaging solution provider serving the UK, Ireland and Europe. Headquartered in Droitwich, it also has a specialist packaging operation in Ivybridge, Devon and a manufacturing plant in Poland. Established in 1982, the Fairfield name has long been recognised as a self-adhesive label converter, specialist packaging and Auto ID solutions provider. However, in October last year, the company took its interests in the Auto ID market to a new level following the acquisition of a specialist and forward-thinking company in this field. The founder and owner of this newly acquired concern, Lee Wragg, was then appointed to head up Fairfields new auto ID division as business development manager. Over the past few months Wragg has also been instrumental in the re-positioning of the company and its re-vamped focus on Auto ID solutions, including everything from pre-printed barcode labels and readers to Direct Part Marking (DPM), software and bespoke track and trace systems.
Wragg has 13 years experience within the bar coding and Auto ID industry, having held a number of business development roles within this sector, working for Computer Identics, RVSI and Data Teknologies. In his current position, he is tasked with account management for select customers, working with them to develop current and future projects by enhancing their business systems with Auto ID and related products. This includes market analysis and final contract negotiations. Customer enquiries normally start with identifying the areas where we can improve productivity with our products and knowledge, he said. This includes examining the benefits of traceability systems such as 2D codes, RFID and the potential cost savings that these could bring.
Wragg points out that the companys heightened venture into the Auto ID market, coupled with Fairfields existing label conversion and specialist packaging interests, has turned the company into a one-stop shop. In order to keep things as simple and convenient as possible, many of our customers want to slim down the number of suppliers they use; and the good news is they can now purchase all their required barcode reading, labelling and specialist packaging devices from Fairfield, he said. We can now supply just about anything related to the general Auto ID world, from handheld scanners and field-service mobile computers to thermal transfer printers.
One particularly innovative technology that Wragg has been involved in for the past 10 years is that of Direct Part Marking (DPM), and this is something that is key to Fairfields future strategy within its current and target industry verticals. Rather than affixing a label to a product, we can put a 2D code directly on to the part or product and its there for life, he explained. DPM is now being utilised a lot in sectors such as aeronautical and automotive, on parts such as engine blocks, camshafts and connecting rods.
Wragg explained that, in the case of DPM, this 2D coding system can be seen as a competitor, or a technology that runs parallel with, RFID. DPM is a technology that can carry a substantial amount of data within a very small space but, unlike RFID tags or data embedded into a microchip, the DPM option allows the data to be applied directly to the product, he said, adding that in order for customers to read the data from DPMs, Fairfield has developed a brand new software product called Data Wedge. This software accepts data captured from a DPM by a barcode scanner and can represent the data to the user in a number of ways. For example, it can send the data to the system cursor; send it to a ?le for later upload; or send it to the screen, with a ?le save option. Data Wedge was launched last month (April).
The core vertical market sectors that Fairfield is already fully engaged in are mainly the aerospace and automotive sectors. However, as Wragg pointed out, it has also identified healthcare and pharmaceutical as sectors that could reap major benefits from the types of Auto ID solutions it can provide. For example, Wragg spoke about some of the constraints currently experienced in hospitals. We hear about MRSA and superbugs, and this is a real problem for patients, the Government and NHS. Instruments get placed on a tray and the tray is scanned when it enters the theatre. But what if an instrument is dropped on the floor and the patient subsequently contracted an illness how can that instrument be individually traced or monitored? With this problem in mind, we have developed a surgical instrument reader that is able to read each instrument individually, so hospital staff can track each individual item in and out of the theatre. And if there is one instrument that needs to be destroyed, staff will have electronic evidence that this has actually been done.
Wragg summarised the latest developments within Fairfield and their core advantages to the end user. We are now in a position to provide solutions for all tracking and tracing needs, particularly high-end Auto ID requirements in demanding verticals such as aerospace, automotive, healthcare and pharmaceutical. The solutions we offer are very forward thinking and at the cutting edge of technology in this field. Regardless of the complexity of the project, we are now geared to address it.