Shelf-based Inventory Management System

candy shelves

Implemented a sensor-based shelving system to manage inventory in a retail environment.

The Client

The client is a marketing/consulting firm that provides intelligent stock tracking and market analysis services for the retail marketplace.

The Need

The client sought to build a smarter retail shelving system that could sense low and out of stock conditions and communicate stock information wirelessly. The information could then be gathered real-time into a central database to trigger action at the store and create a series of performance reports. They needed engineers with both low-level hardware knowledge as well as wireless and network expertise. They also needed to create the central server application to collect and report on data in order to create the entire system.

The RightHand Solution

The RightHand Technologies engineers started by understanding the specific requirements of the system and researched potential components for both sensing and communications. They partnered with a custom sensor company to design and source the required sensor hardware, and designed and built all software components - both on the embedded sensor side and on the network server side of the solution.

RightHand engineers also built the hardware processor board that interfaced with a series of custom sensors configured specifically to fit the shelving units. These sensors measured and transmit product stock information to the processor board, which summarized the readings and sent them to the server via an off-the-shelf wireless router. The server then uses this information and the restocking algorithms and database to determine if any action needs to be taken. Instructions and lists are assembled and transmitted to the intelligent scanning devices used by the stocking personnel in the store. A menu of specific actions can be configured or selected by the user based upon the product definitions.

The server side of the solution uses a browser-based Web interface to seamlessly convey status information and reports to store managers. The system is designed for rapid deployment and ease of expansion into other areas of interest.

The Results

The client was very happy to be able to depend upon one vendor for all his hardware and software needs. RightHand Technologies could provide expertise in embedded hardware and software, as well as communications for server database and web interfaces. Unfortunately, after the field trial concluded, the end client decided that a full scale rollout would be deferred, mostly due to the investment required to ensure a high-performance network for the wireless communications.