Radio Frequency Identification Demystified: What RFID means to your business
If your company is a supplier to Wal-Mart, Target or the Department of Defense, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) may appear to be yet another "necessary evil" to keep your customer’s business.
Or are you a manufacturer or distributor hearing the ongoing buzz about RFID and wondering if it’s time to get in the game? Have you as an organization come to realize that there are some inventory and material management processes that are overdue for an update?
Are you curious about RFID technology, how it is being used, and how you can use it? Are you skeptical? If so, keep reading. With RFID it’s best to understand the basics, be prepared for the pitfalls, and be set up to discover opportunities to get the most value out of your investment.
While there is probably a near endless list of uses for RFID, as there are with its related Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC) technologies, the key value of a RFID system is its ability to accurately and quickly identify an item, what it contains, where it is located, and when it got there.
In its simplest form, RFID represents an evolution of existing AIDC technologies, i.e. bar coding. RFID systems consist of labels or tags affixed to a product, package or pallet that a device “reads” using a radio signal to collect data. RFID readers are similar to bar code readers in that they can be portable or fixed, but unlike bar codes, they do not require the label or tag to be directly visible to read data, and multiple labels can be read simultaneously.
Immediate access to this information as items are moved or used can result in:
- Reduced inventory, through improved inventory accuracy and supply chain visibility
- Improved customer service, with fewer out-of-stocks and timely, accurate shipments
- Lower cost to comply with customer and regulatory shipping, tracking and traceability requirements
- Decreased administration and manual labor
In short, RFID can reduce the time, effort and errors that can occur when recording the details of a key activity or event. While traditional bar code systems provide similar benefits, RFID provides an improved solution that can reduce or eliminate the need for manual transactions by "automatically" tracking an item’s movement or usage. Activities such as releasing an order, consuming the last item in a kanban bin, or scrapping an expired material are now more easily and instantly tracked.
RFID is an exciting technology, with many successful implementations already in place and growing stability in terms of global standards. Widespread adoption may be years away, but that does not mean you cannot get value out of an RFID implementation today. Whether it is an initiative with one of your key suppliers or customers, or a "closed-loop" solution to optimize an internal process, consider starting a small project or pilot now, instead of scrambling for answers when you have no choice.
To learn more about the terms and applications for RFID, download our new white paper RFID Demystified: A practical look at what RFID means to your business. This comprehensive guide to the technology, controversy, and real-world implementations will guide you through the confusing world of RFID.
Pragmatyxs was established by Paul Van Hout in 1995 with one objective in mind:
Helping our clients drive their success through the integration and implementation of product labeling, bar coding and related product and material tracking solutions-to meet their unique business needs.