IBM Japan Ltd has developed a clothing inventory management system using ceramic smart tags.

The washable button-sized ceramic tags are from KRD Corp, which is located in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, and can withstand temperatures as high as 200ºC for up to six hours and are pressure-resistant.

IBM will initially provide the JPY350m (US$3m) system to a firm that supplies medical institutions with hospital gowns and other goods.

The smart tags will make it possible to reduce excess inventory and maintain records of whether a garment has been loaned out or is being laundered. Annual cost savings of about JPY80m are expected.

The tags operate on a 13.56MHz frequency and cost about JPY200 each.