Portable Technology Solutions and Zebra Technologies Help Not-For-Profit Grow

Portable Technology Solutions and Zebra Technologies Help Not-For-Profit Grow

When PTS heard from The Twig, a not-for-profit on Florida’s Gulf Coast, we were inspired by their mission to help kids in need—so much so that we teamed up with our hardware partner Zebra Technologies to give the Florida-based charity tools to help them do their important work.

The Twig has been empowering foster children since 2016 by providing them with a stylish clothes-shopping experience that is completely free of charge. This life-changing organization has its roots in the vision of Dianne Weed, a mother of four who adopted her youngest daughter out of the foster care system as a baby.

As The Twig’s Director of Development Nicole Britton tells it, “When that baby turned into a teenager and she started buying her all those things you buy teenagers, she started to think:  What would her life be like if we didn’t adopt her? If she was still in foster care, who would be buying these clothes for her? Who would be pouring love and encouragement into her life?”

Weed started looking into what was available for foster children and discovered that, while some organizations provided basic necessities, the options often fell short when it came to offering their young clients dignity.

Weed founded The Twig to provide foster kids with an experience that was more inspiring than rummaging through boxes of other people’s leftovers—a place that, in Britton’s words, “looked like a regular fun, bright, children’s store but everything is free and it’s only for kids in foster care.”

The Challenges of Scaling Up the Vision

In its first month of operation, The Twig served eight children. Today, with strong community support, it serves over 400 children a month, from newborns to youth who have aged out of foster care, up to the age of 21.

Britton, who became The Twig’s first full-time hire in 2017, describes the experience of growing out of The Twig’s first location as “kiddos, strollers, foster parents everywhere.” But shop space wasn’t the only challenge The Twig faced as its mission flourished.

“We started with sorting and prepping our clothes in our store or in Diane’s living room,” adds Twig Marketing Director Shannon Campbell, who is also one of founder Dianne Weed’s four daughters. Later, The Twig was given use of a 7,000-square-foot warehouse, where volunteers could sort clothes and prepare them for delivery to the two locations now maintained in Venice and Bradenton, Florida.

The Twig needs to divide inventory between these two locations and deliver items according to need. As Campbell puts it, “We might need a lot of toddler clothes this week in Venice, but they may need youth/boy clothes in Bradenton. We need a way to keep track of what we’re low on in the stores, and what we have in the warehouse—so as we ask people for donations, we know what to request, we know what to send volunteers and staff shopping for, and how to get those items to both of those locations effectively and efficiently.”

As The Twig grew, these needs became increasingly hard to deal with using the methods The Twig had used from the start. “We’re very blessed to have a lot of volunteers,” says Britton, “but we had them literally writing down our inventories in our stores on clipboards—counting how many shirts we had in different sizes, how many shirts, and so on, to see what we were low on.”

Campbell emphasizes that “that was happening every week—every week we were writing it all down on pieces of paper!”

On the warehouse side, Britton describes how The Twig’s volunteers and staff had to rely on visual guesswork—”Looks like we have plenty of 2T clothes; looks like we’re very low on size-10 shoes….”

The Twig’s old system was time-consuming, cumbersome, and imprecise. For a business, that’s a problem; for a charity that’s doing such important work, it’s an impediment to doing the vital work of empowering kids. Portable Technology Solutions knew that TracerPlus and the PTS Cloud could make things much easier, and help The Twig focus on its core mission.

TracerPlus Brings Precision to The Twig’s Inventory

A couple of years ago, The Twig found a solution. On the way back from the NRF [National Retail Federation] convention, a couple of The Twig’s employees had a chance encounter with a representative from Zebra. When the rep heard about The Twig’s needs, they took the story back to Zebra, which was able to connect The Twig with PTS. As Britton describes it, it’s “been a huge blessing to be able to connect with PTS and Zebra to solve our problems.”

When PTS and Zebra learned more about The Twig’s work and needs, we knew we could help. Zebra donated its ET40 Tablets with DS8178s attached for use in The Twig’s retail locations, and TC57 Tablets for the warehouse—all loaded with TracerPlus software donated by PTS and configured in consultation with The Twig. PTS also donated the use of the PTS Cloud to support The Twig’s database.

“It’s great now to have a system that actually shows us, from the boutique, ‘I know that we are low on 2T clothes—I wonder if we have any at the warehouse…’—and then we can just look on the database and see how much we have there,” says Britton.

 “It also brings hard numbers to fundraising,” she adds. “Now when I appear before a group that is going to do a collection for us, I have real, raw numbers. I can tell them exactly how many, for example, shoes we gave out in one month—and that, by holding a shoe collection, this is the gap you’re filling for us.”

“I can tell them an actual, for-sure amount—because I can see in our database how much is at the warehouse, how much is in Bradenton, how much is in Venice—and not just be guesstimating based on someone’s ‘look’ at the inventory.”

Giving and Getting Value

The reliable inventory data that The Twig now gets from TracerPlus has also helped it make better use of donated funds. “We work hard to get good value for our donors,” Britton stresses.

The Twig uses shoppers to fill inevitable gaps between week-to-week needs and incoming clothing donations. Now, with the reliable data made possible with TracerPlus, those shoppers are able to take full advantage of discounts and sales they may encounter. “If they see something marked down,” Britton says, “they no longer have to just rely on their memory of what was in the warehouse—they can take advantage of an opportunity when it arises.”

It all comes down, Britton says, to “being able to see where needs are in real-time.” And that helps The Twig help the foster kids at the heart of what they do, and be “good stewards for our donors.”

The Twig says its mission is “to inspire and encourage foster families by meeting their needs.” Portable Technology Solutions is proud to be working with Zebra Technologies to make that mission a little bit easier.

AIM Introduces VerifyReg™ The Cutting-Edge Solution for DSCSA Compliance

AIM Introduces VerifyReg™ The Cutting-Edge Solution for DSCSA Compliance

 

 

 

Chuck Evanhoe Receives AIM Global’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Chuck Evanhoe Receives AIM Global’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Today’s thriving automatic identification and data capture technology (AIDC) technology industry was built by the brilliance and hard work of many past and present Association members. The AIM Global Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to an elite group of past and present members whose careers have contributed in a major way to the advancement of AIDC technology that is being used in multiple use cases such as automated asset tracking, product verification, internet of things, etc.

 

AIM Global celebrated Chuck Evanhoe, President, Aware Innovations, as the latest recipient of the AIM Global Lifetime Achievement Award during the AIM Partnership Breakfast at RFID Journal LIVE!.  “As a visionary leader, Chuck has helped shape the industry and the association, and is well-deserving of our highest level of recognition. We have heartfelt gratitude for what Chuck does not only for the industry but for the AIM Global membership as a valued leader, mentor, collaborator, and contributor, with the highest level of integrity,” shared Patti Blessing, AIM Board Vice Chairperson.

 

Mr. Evanhoe is the Chairman, AIM Board of Directors, as well as the Chairman of INCITS/IoT, the US Technical Committee for ISO/IEC JTC1/SC 41- Internet of Things and Digital Twin standards, and the Chairman, ADC1, the US Technical Advisors Group for ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31— Automatic Identification and Data Capture Techniques standards. He is an active member of AIM’s RFID Experts Group (REG) and the ANSI MH10.8 Sub-committee on Coding & Labeling of Unit-Loads. Chuck is internationally recognized as an expert in AIDC technologies. He is an AIDC 100 member and is a Sr. Member of IEEE.

 

“I am honored to be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Evanhoe. “It’s been incredibly rewarding to be a part of the growth of our industry.  It’s my privilege to work with an extraordinary team and help support and amplify their growth as well.”

AIM Welcomes 2023 Industry Group Chairs

AIM Welcomes 2023 Industry Group Chairs

AIM Welcomes 2023 Industry Group Chairs
Nominated by Peers to Continue Impactful Work and Service

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | March 30, 2023  | AIM, the leading industry association and global authority for 50 years in innovation, standards, and solutions in barcode, biometrics, IoT, NFC, RFID, RTLS, and RAIN, welcomes incoming industry group chairs to lead initiatives in visibility technologies, RFID, and technical symbologies. 

“I am excited to have these members lead our industry groups this year,” stated Mary Lou Bosco, CEO, AIM. “These chairs have exceptional experience to guide these groups in this interesting time in our industry.” 

Kimberley McCann Reath Technology

Visibility Technologies Industry Group
Kimberley McCann is Engineering Lead at Reath Technology Ltd, a start-up that is tackling the challenge of single-use systems, with technology and design at the core. Leading the engineering team at Reath, she applies her knowledge of scaling systems and Agile project management. She has previously worked as part of NHS Scotland, where she helped to develop and improve the quality and delivery of health and social care across Scotland with her work on building a national digital platform. Kimberley also draws on her experience with a leading logistics software company, where she developed an appreciation for the importance of efficiency and automation. Her experience in designing and implementing large-scale digital systems has given her a deep understanding of the importance of accurate and reliable data. She is committed to finding sustainable and innovative solutions to complex problems.

Scott Austin
Zugang Technology

RFID Experts Group
Scott Austin is the Director at Zugang Technology Connections. Scott has over 20 years of experience in the RFID and smartcard industries and over 30 years of C-Level international business experience, start-ups and M&A activity. Scott currently sits on the AIM Board. Scott is a former Director of the Asia Pacific Smart Card Association for Australasia.  Scott brings a wealth of knowledge across the development and evolution of identification technologies across the omnichannel including the fast evolving internet of things (IoT) and recently crypto applications of blockchain.

Steven Keddie GS1 Global

Technical Symbology Committee
Steven Keddie is the AIDC Senior Director for GS1 Global Office. Steven is an electrical engineer with 22 years in automotive working for both tier one and OEM and 12 years in marking and coding. He is an industry expert on printing technology with two marking and coding patents. Steven is a 10-year member of the AIM TSC and author of “Is the GS1-128 Barcode on Course to Become the Preferred Standard for Retail Grocery and Foodservice Packaging?” and leads a global migration to 2D barcode initiative that will see 2D pervasively used in retail by 2027. He is a contributor to several SC31 work efforts and will be launching a new barcode resource for industry to ensure compliance with all GS1’s barcode syntaxes. Steven holds numerous patents and earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the Ryerson Polytechnic Institute

For more information, biography, or photos, contact AIM’s headquarters by email or call +1.724.742.4470.

Automatic Identification & Data Capture (AIDC) Industry Association Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation

Automatic Identification & Data Capture (AIDC) Industry Association Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | March 16, 2023 | AIM, the leading industry association and global authority for the Automatic Identification & Data Capture (AIDC) Industry will highlight the progress and innovation of the technology roadmap that has transpired in the past 50 years since the inception of AIM.

It all began in 1973, when AIM, then known as the Automatic Identification Manufacturers (AIM), was established as a Product Section of the Material Handling Institute (MHI) with a handful of members. In 1985, AIM was incorporated as a separate trade association when MHI moved their headquarters to Charlotte, NC.

The 1980’s and 1990’s were the most explosive decades for AIM as new symbologies were created; standards development activity was in high gear; membership blossomed to 900 global member companies; the annual industry trade show, SCAN-TECH, grew to attract over 12,000 attendees and 350 exhibitors; new product announcements were daily occurrences; and multiple vertical industries created mandates and compliance programs insisting on the use of AIDC technologies.

50 years ago, the founding pioneers of the AIDC industry certainly did not envision that one day every person would be walking around with a bar code scanner in their pocket, nor did they know at that time that AIDC technologies would become robust data collection tools connecting the physical world to the computer world enabling the birth of Wi-Fi, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Bluetooth, and Robotics.

“AIM was built on innovation and the courage to try new things,” said Chuck Evanhoe, AIM’s Board of Directors Chair. “Today, digital data capture technologies are reimagined into new efficiencies enabling supply chains around the world to be more equitable, sustainable, and resilient.”

In commemoration of this milestone anniversary, AIM will be hosting a series of regional events to mark the occasion. For more information about AIM and the association’s evolutions, please visit the #AIM50 website.

AIM North America Launches Make-IT-Wright Digital Supply Chain Hackathon

AIM North America Launches Make-IT-Wright Digital Supply Chain Hackathon

January 10, 2023 – Pittsburgh, PA – AIM North America (AIM NA) will launch its first hackathon in collaboration with Wright State University in Dayton, OH scheduled for February 4 – 5. A hackathon is best described as an “invention marathon”. Any WSU student who has an interest in technology can participate to learn, build and share their creations over the course of a weekend in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

The “Make-IT-Wright” Digital Supply Chain Hackathon will focus on two industry segments (Food and Healthcare) that were disrupted by the pandemic. Students will work to develop solutions utilizing digital transformation technologies such as barcode, RFID, RAIN, RTLS, for example, to create an application that will break existing and future supply chain bottlenecks while impacting the planet in a positive and sustainable way.

Jeanne Duckett, chair of AIM North America and lead hackathon developer explained, “The hackathon will provide a platform and an opportunity to the young talent to develop digital business solutions using their creativity and innovation.”

“Hackathons are an incredible way to bring our interdisciplinary students and community together to learn new skills, build amazing projects, and share ideas” said Matt Kijowski, Cyber Systems Program Manager and hackathon lead at Wright State University.

AIM NA and WSU will provide guidelines, training, ideas, and set challenges for all entrants. Teams will present their submissions to a specially appointed jury of industry and academic leaders. Thanks to generous sponsors, the prize purse for the top three teams is $3000, $2000, and $1000.

Registration and information about the Make-IT-Wright Digital Supply Chain Hackathon can be found here: https://www.aim-na.org/digital-supply-chain-make-it-wright-hackathon.html.

Special thanks to our hackathons sponsors including: