Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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43 unmanned systems inside June/July 2016 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. Yearling applauded Walmart's announcement. "I think the way that Walmart is talking (about using) drones is much more in align- ment to useful use cases." If inventory drones are successful in the distribution centers it is possible they will find new uses further down the retail chain, sug- gested Clark McAllister, the founder of ADA- SA Inc. The firm, which has a mobile RFID tag encoder and is working with PINC, has been looking at deploying RFID-reading drones in retail stores. "The retail f loor is pretty chaotic, inventory changes pretty rapidly and RFID is a proven solution for knowing what a retailer has in stock and where it is," McAllister said. Using an automated drone to scan RFID tags could ultimately enable "push button inventory," he said, and that opens opportunities. With very accurate inventories retailers can use their stores as a forward stocking loca- tion to customers, he said, "So those custom- ers can, for example, know 'Hey, can I get this on the street?'" Trillion Dollar Industry PINC Solutions didn't start off working with drones, which is still a small part of its busi- ness. In operation since 2004, they offer a re- al-time location system based on proprietary software that uses RFID and GPS on other kinds of mobile platforms to locate and identify assets as they move through the supply chain. They work with automobile manufacturers to keep track of vehicles in densely-packed park- ing lots and with firms like energy companies that must be able to find tools and materials— say pipes, drill bits or reels of cable—wherever it is stored across a large laydown yard. They also help firms track the trailers used to carry freight. Locating trailers is about more than knowing where a particular trailer can be found among a thousand others stored in a yard. It is also about tracking that trailer so it, and its contents, get to the right place at the right time. It's not unusual for an au- tomotive company to have 700 trailers out in the yard with supplies for their manu- facturing plant, Yearling ex- plained. They have to "get the supplies to the relevant dock to feed their supply chain in the ap- propriate manner and time frame." Overall the sector is worth some $1.5 trillion of which about two thirds relates to moving and logistics, Yearling said. Taking It Outside PINC is now ready to integrate drones across all four areas of its business. The firm was granted a Section 333 exemption last fall for the PINC Air, a proprietary drone able to oper- ate both indoors and out. "This is a major milestone in the develop- ment of PINC Air," Yearling said in a statement. Exponent Technology Services developed this drone to regularly check the location of the inventory of steel beams and other assets being stored by AGE Steel in vast holding yards. "EVERYBODY, and I say everybody, has this problem." Matt Yearling, CEO PINC Solutions