When Williams Software Associates was tasked by Fort Bragg to figure out a better way to track weapons and accessories, they joined forces with Vizinex to engineer solutions that would work.
Background on Williams Software Associates
Founded in 2005, Williams Software Associates, also known as SmarTrack Agile Asset Tracking and Management, is a full-service custom software development shop specializing in U.S. Government and Law Enforcement asset tracking and management systems. The SmarTrack Global Asset Tracking system is designed specifically for tracking and managing assets, locally and globally, using a hybrid solution of RFID, RTLS and GPS tags.
Dedicated to the development of innovative software and hardware enterprise systems that feature intelligent business solutions for the Government, Private and Public sector, Williams Software Associates provides applications services and tech that organizations, government agencies and law enforcement rely on to make their organizations more effective. In short, whatever the best solution is, Williams will build it.
So, when one of their biggest clients – Fort Bragg – needed a more effective solution for tracking weapons and accessories, Williams set out to look for a qualified, reliable RFID supplier. One that was capable and responsive enough to help design and engineer a custom solution that would fit the exact specifications of the job.
Williams Software Associates wasn’t new to RFID. And they knew Fort Bragg would require a rugged tag. One that could track assets – including scopes, lasers, binoculars and night vision goggles – without falling or getting knocked off. And it had to have a long read range that would function around metal armory racks. But finding a solution that could meet all of these requirements proved to be difficult, initially.
Williams’ first encounter with RFID was with tag suppliers in China and India. But the suppliers would only interact through online web forms, so communication was poor. As a result, Williams had to make an educated guess that an ordered tag would be durable enough to stay affixed to the assets they needed to track.
“Trying to communicate your needs overseas was very difficult and time was easily wasted,” said Albert Williams, President of Williams Software Associates. “We had trouble explaining what we were looking for and getting a response in a timely fashion was rare.”
One particularly challenging area was with armory. Armories are full of metal, which makes it hard to ping antennas and readers accurately. With the overseas tags, the read would often get interrupted or dropped.
Soon after, Williams set out to identify an RFID solution that could accommodate armory environments while meeting specific material, security and sizing requirements. They also needed a solution that complied with the U.S. Government Federal Acquisition Regulation which deals with acquiring goods and services.
Unsatisfied with overseas RFID providers, Williams requested proposals from several manufacturers to recommend or produce a tag that fit their spec. Not long after, Vizinex made a site visit to the Williams headquarters in North Carolina where they were able to get a first-hand look at precisely what the application needed. From there, Vizinex created prototypes for testing and mass-produced the tested solution once it was complete.
More often than not, integrators spend a lot of time evaluating specific tags and trying to tweak a solution to match the end user’s request. “What made Vizinex unique was that we never requested or paid for Vizinex to develop a new tag – we were looking for a solution that fit our requests. Vizinex took the initiative and developed this new tag strictly for our use.”
With the design settled, Vizinex shifted focus to production. The initial tag produced was the Sentry 2607, which delivers a 5-6 foot read distance and can be embedded in metal or composites in a repetitive high-temperature exposure. A few weeks later, Williams requested a tag with even greater read range and Vizinex developed the Sentry 2505. The 2505 has an 8-9’ reach and is rugged enough to tolerate rough handling and aggressive chemicals. In October 2016, William placed its first significant order. To this day, Williams primarily uses the 2505, which was specifically developed for them, while also using a few of Vizinex’s Slim products.
“Our relationship with Vizinex has been positive,” says Albert Williams. “They are responsive to our needs and always willing to develop a tag for us if they don’t have one that meets our criteria. The fact that they’re made in the USA is a major factor. Overseas you have additional fees and you’re not able to get in contact through a simple call. With Vizinex, if we have a simple question, we can pick up the phone and someone will be there to talk us through it.”
Williams is now a regular Vizinex customer and orders tags for a variety of U.S. government projects. “While working with Vizinex, we’ve developed a personal relationship as opposed to when we would order tags from an overseas supplier through the internet,” says Williams. “Now, we don’t have any question about what will work and what won’t.”
Since working with Vizinex, Williams has experienced massive time-savings in R&D, prototyping and problem solving for hard-to-tag equipment. Today, over 5,000 U.S. Military and Law Enforcement agencies use a Williams solution with Vizinex tags for tracking weapons, scopes, lasers, warehouse management for supplies, clothing, law enforcement, vehicles, boats and tools. Williams has found a single source for RFID. One they can trust to deliver reliable, high-quality tags that meet the exact requirements of their customers.