The company we’re going to introduce today is Tactracer, a developer of automated radio frequency identification or RFID solutions for inventory and store management. Let’s hear from company CEO Chun Chul-woo (전철우).
Tactracer was established in 2015 as a one-man startup. After global market research and product planning, the company started its business in earnest in late 2016 with two patent applications. It focuses on automated inventory and store management solutions. They’re designed to identify different products by using optical bar-coding or RFID technology. The automated identification solution for goods can swiftly check a high volume of products being moved in and out of storage one by one. The automated identification solution for inventory can accurately find the amount, types and locations of goods stored in the warehouse.
As a key element in the retail industry, inventory control is closely related to cost reduction and management efficiency. Many companies have difficulty in managing inventory, though, and take it for granted that they sustain a loss from the problem. Consumers, too, have had to endure inconvenience. For example, they go to a store to get a particular product, after hearing that the store has the one. But it turns out that the store has already run out of the product. You may have had this experience before.
In general, SPA or fast fashion brands are directly managed by company headquarters. The headquarters operate a strict management system, as they have to manage the inventory of a number of local stores. But store employees still have to check various things themselves. Companies may adopt point-of-sale or POS inventory systems, which automatically deduct the purchased items from the inventory list. But in a week, this method may no longer work. If a customer looks for a large size of something, an employee goes in the back to find one, rather than using the system. That is, the employee does not trust the system.
For these issues, the garment industry introduced RFID in the early stage. These days, employees can find the quantities in stock overall in about an hour, using a hand-held RFID reader. But they still don’t know where the goods are. So, they can know whether or not certain products are stored and how many products are kept, but they don’t know about their locations.
To resolve these problems, Tactracer developed an inventory management robot called DRAGONFLY. A single self-propelled robot travels around an entire warehouse or a library on a certain cycle set by its user, regardless of how big the area is, to collect information about products and figure out their locations. Its speed and accuracy are beyond imagination.
To enhance RFID readability, the robot is designed to flutter its antennas up and down, much like a dragonfly flapping its wings. It is indeed also shaped like a dragonfly. The robot can identify hundreds of pieces of clothing piled on the shelves in just a second, and its recognition rate is as high as 99.9 percent. Moreover, it can tell where the items are located. It can pinpoint the location of a product hidden from view within deep inside the shelf, thanks to the RF waves’ ability to scan through objects. We showed this off at several exhibitions and visitors were astounded.
While DRAGONFLY is about automated inventory management, SPIDER-GO, another key product of Tactracer, has to do with automated store management. Both products are named after bugs. This reflects the company’s corporate philosophy of pursuing nature-friendly or eco-friendly systems.
As an unmanned store management system based on object detection, SPIDER-GO is drawing special attention, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers all services that unmanned stores need.
This product is optimized for the management of unmanned stores. It can scan inventory at stores and serve as a kiosk, CCTV and fire detector. It can also show advertisement images. In a word, it is an all-in-one system to offer everything needed for running unmanned stores.
The non-face-to-face or unmanned service industry is growing fast, due to COVID-19. SPIDER-GO can replace store employees and even perform tasks that were difficult to carry out in the past. The key of SPIDER-GO is regular inventory management, which is an essential part of all industries.
This solution can be applied to any area that requires inventory management, whether it is a store or warehouse. Its AI-based kiosk service allows customers to browse through products on the search window. It also enables the customers to talk with an employee on the screen remotely, when necessary.
Chun graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After returning to Korea, he entered Hanmi Pharmaceutical to design various electronic tags or RFID solutions. A portable RFID reader developed by Chun is now being used for inventory estimates at some 17-thousand drugstores nationwide. Previously, it took five hours on average to keep track of inventory using barcodes. After the introduction of this hand-held reader, the time was reduced to five minutes. While participating in exhibitions in Korea and abroad, Chun found that even global companies badly needed an automated inventory management system. He quit his job and set up his own firm.
Less than five years after the establishment of the company, he was able to release two innovative products. Of course, this is not common. Now, his company aspires to do even greater things in the future.
Our vision is to surprise the world by creating something amazing that people have never experienced before. With this ambitious dream in mind, I quit my previous job. If I had only pursued a decent life and a stable future, I wouldn’t have started my own business. Fortunately, global firms such as Japan’s SoftBank and Amazon, in the U.S., are making inquiries about our tech. This is a very encouraging sign. But we’re not satisfied yet.
Tactracer will continue to strive to give hope to companies that have to get through the post-COVID-19 era, much like a lighthouse for the darkest times of life.
Inventory control is a vital part of retail business, while COVID-19 has triggered strong demand for contactless services. With a keen insight into the future, Tactracer has been one step ahead of others when making decisions. As a result, it is attracting attention from the global market. At this pace, the company could realize its dream of “surprising the world” in the near future.