The Maryland Farms YMCA is using RFID tracking technology to protect their full-sized bath towel inventory.
The family wellness center serves more than 2,500 people each day and towel loss has been quickly adding up at the Y.
"Up to 5,000 towels go out the door in a month and 100 a day. Right now we can't keep up stocking them up front that is how fast we are losing them," membership director Brett Peterson explained.
Peterson knows members are not intentionally taking towels but he says it is easy to get busy and accidentally walk out with a towel around your neck or in a gym bag.
So many people have been walking out with towels it has added up to a nearly $30,000 expense for the nonprofit each year.
"I was surprised. I couldn't believe that the YMCA, that we are spending $30,000 replacing towels," said Greg Lemon, a volunteer on the YMCA finance committee.
After discovering how much the Y was spending on towels he started looking for ways to curb towel loss.
He led a group of volunteers who decided to employee RFID technology to build awareness among members and safeguard the towel inventory.
"Five years ago, it might not have been an affordable option, but now that it's being used much more widely, the cost of the tags and readers has come down considerably," Lemon continued.
Lemon approached the Nashville office of Alliance Cost Containment, who agreed to donate nearly half of the $27,000 cost to install the RFID technology at the Y.
With RFID installed, when a towel nears an exit, a friendly reminder in the form of an alarm will sound and the towel can be dropped off before the member leaves the building.
In order for the system to work properly, every towel will be outfitted with RFID tags.
The Maryland Farms Y, in an effort to deepen community impact, chose Lebanon based Prospect, Inc. to do the tag installations.
"Prospect is a large employer of disabled adults so we have created a job for people out at Prospect and they are very happy to be working in partnership with the YMCA," Lemon said.
The RFID technology will go live at the Maryland Farms Y on Wednesday.
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