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On The Fast Track To Success With RFID

This article first appeared in SIMTech's Publication

Ms Lim Peck Hui- Co-Founder & Managing Director- Tunity Technologies
Ms Lim Peck Hui- Co-Founder & Managing Director- Tunity Technologies

With SIMTech’s support- RFID specialist Tunity Technologies has grown from being a solutions provider to a solutions developer

When Ms Lim Peck Hui left ST Electronics in 2003 to found her start-up offering radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions- she and her partners had a mission – to give companies in Singapore and countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) greater access to the tracking technology.

Named Tunity Technologies- the company specialised in using RFID to track personnel- library materials and other assets. After 10 years- however- the company found it challenging to grow the business as each solution had to be customised to the specific needs of the client- making it difficult to keep costs down.

“We didn’t really have a strategy to grow in the long-term. We just did projects with whoever knocked on our door. For 10 years- we were trying to find the right path- but it was very haphazard-” said Ms Lim- Tunity’s Co-Founder and Managing Director. However- its fortunes began to shift in 2013 when it became one of the first companies to adopt SIMTech’s RFID Item Management Tracking System (IMTS) technology. The plug-and-play system made deployment of RFID systems more efficient and lowered the cost of adopting such a solution.

Returning Trays at Timbre+

“The plug-and-play system meant that we had to tweak the software only a little- but did not have to change the whole solution for each customer. This made it easier for smaller companies to adopt it-” said Ms Lim. Mr He Wei- the SIMTech researcher who worked with Tunity on IMTS- explained that the programme was part of the Government’s broader effort to help SMEs adopt productivity solutions. “We wanted to encourage mass adoption of such technologies- so we packaged it in an easy-to-use system-” he said.

 

R&D is a way of life and I want to integrate it into our company culture. This means fostering an attitude of being inquisitive and finding better ways to do things.

Ms Lim Peck Hui- Co-Founder & Managing Director- Tunity Technologies

Finding Success

With SIMTech’s support- Tunity was able to find new clients with the IMTS solution.

An early success was the development of a sushi plate RFID tagging solution for restaurant chain Ichiban Sushi in 2013. The system tracked the freshness of the food on the conveyor belt- allowing Ichiban to improve the standard of food safety. It also increased productivity as staff no longer had to monitor manually how long each plate had been on the conveyor belt. The technology has been deployed at 11 Ichiban outlets- with more outlets in the pipeline.

“Ichiban had approached SIMTech for a solution and we worked with it to come up with a solution that met its needs and budget-” said Ms Lim.

In 2015- Tunity used funding from Spring Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore) to create its own Smart Management Tracking System (SMTS) based on SIMTech’s IMTS technology. The successful development of SMTS also marked Tunity’s transformation from being a solutions provider to a solutions developer and opened up new business opportunities for the company. So far- there are 46 SMTS adoptions by companies. Another high-profile success for Tunity was in 2016- when it developed and implemented a tray-return system at Timbre+ Food Centre with SIMTech using RFID technology. The system required customers to pay an extra dollar when they order food and the amount would be reimbursed when they bring their RFID-tagged tray to the return station.

“The challenge for this project was predicting how the RFID would perform when there are changes to ambience in an open space like a hawker centre. In the laboratory- you will get 100 per cent detection- but you may not get the same results on the ground-” said Ms Lim.

“We were very anxious on the day we launched as the project had received a lot of media attention. We didn’t get any sleep the night before.”

Thankfully- the system worked with minor hiccups. With the tray-return system in place- Timbre+ Food Centre was able to improve its labour productivity by 63 per cent as the number of cleaners required was more than halved. The system has since been rolled out at two other food centres.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Tunity’s R&D collaboration with SIMTech has had the following impact on the company and its customers:
  • The company has transformed from being a RFID solutions provider to a RFID solutions developer- and increasing its bottom-line with this new capability
  • The automated tray-return system developed for Timbre+ Food Centre has helped improve labour productivity by 63 per cent
  • As a SIMTech Technology Extension Parther- Tunity has completed over 50 projects worth around $550-000 in revenue

Ms Lim with Mr He Wei (right)- Principal Research Engineer- SIMTech
Ms Lim with Mr He Wei (right)- Principal Research Engineer- SIMTech

Leveraging on these successes in Singapore- Tunity is now looking to offer its solutions to customers abroad- including those in Brunei- Hong Kong and Australia. After its experience working with SIMTech- it is also looking to expand its in-house research and development (R&D) capabilities.

“R&D is a way of life and I want to integrate it into our company culture. This means fostering an attitude of being inquisitive and finding better ways to do things-” said Ms Lim. “We have learnt a lot about R&D from SIMTech and we have a better idea of how to position and benchmark ourselves in this area.”