RFID technology has the potential to improve speed and efficiency across the entire supply chain. One of the technologies that have really started to significantly impact the supply chain is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).
RFID, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a technology that uses radio waves to automatically identify people or objects. Data is stored on a microchip that is connected to an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). The antenna allows the chip to send identification information to a reader, which converts radio waves from RFID tag into digital information that can then be passed on to computers.
RFID is not just a replacement for barcodes. RFID ensures that the right goods are available in the right place with no discrepancies and zero errors. It makes the supply chain considerably more precise and improves the efficiency and reliability of the entire chain. As real-time information is made available also administration and planning processes can be significantly improved.
Almost all businesses operate global supply chains — sourcing raw material and components from the most cost-effective locations, adding value and assembling them in the most cost-effective locations, and finally selling them in markets that have maximum sustained demand and profitability. Scalability has also led to increased efficiencies in supply chain processes, such as identification, storage, inventory control, transportation, distribution, and accounting.
RFID is useful not only in manufacturing but also in the distribution of finished goods. It has the potential to increase the speed of delivery management, improve efficiency, visibility, and accuracy in selection and distribution processes, as well as lower distribution costs.
If you’re one of these individuals still on the fence about RFID, below are five benefits that result from using this technology.
a) Improve the quality and transparency of data across the supply chain – When data is read from a tag, answers are provided to the questions: What? Why? Where? and When? This is the very essence of RFID applications in the industry.
b) Makes it easier to implement flexible manufacturing processes – RFID is used to reliably read and write data directly to a tag on an object in real-time. This capability can be leveraged to make flexible manufacturing a reality.
c) Increase the accuracy and reduce the time spent taking inventories – RFID can be used to reduce or eliminate the need for “hand-scanning,” resulting in immediate and significant improvements in inventory tracking.
d) Increase efficiency and cut down on rework – RFID can be particularly advantageous in closed-loop systems where reusable transport mechanisms are used. Real-time visibility allows the observation and close monitoring of products and processes so that quick action can be taken and process improvements
e) Reliable track and trace in challenging physical environments – Specially encapsulated RFID tags are designed to survive and perform reliably in even the most challenging of environments
RFID appears to have limitless potential for increasing speed and efficiency throughout the extended supply chain.
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