RFID can make the phrase ‘Mobility’ mean so much more than just mobile computing. Many businesses can now go beyond the obvious and into the realm of intelligent objects, with current technology enabling intelligence to be built into items that until now have been regarded as no more than utilitarian.
Think of a storage container in a warehouse. It serves an obvious practical function. But attach an RFID tag to it, wi-fi-enable it, and connect it to an auto-ID infrastructure, and suddenly it’s intelligent. It can now be set up to tell you what it is, what products it’s used for and where it is. If someone takes it outside its own working area, it will tell you, and you’ll be able to find it again. If the new area to which it’s been taken is also designated for its use, it can be recalibrated remotely to suit these new circumstances. It has, in effect, become an intelligent mobile device, giving information directly to central IT systems so as to drive business value through increased visibility, accountability and reduced downtime.This container can now tell you if it is moved from the correct area of a warehouse, or if the products within it have been sat on the shelf for too long; its value is increased immeasurably by the addition of an RFID tag.
Good for customers and staff…
Building intelligence in this way helps not just with where things are and what they do; it also helps material handling firms provide a better service to their customers. If inbound products and resources can be tagged and monitored, and outbound products monitored in the same way, it’s much easier to track each products movement through the system analyzing the time taken and the locations visited. When such data is run against things like shelf-lives for perishable goods, efficiency is maximized and wastage minimized. This way customers can also receive exactly what they want, precisely when they want it.
There are safety implications too. A piece of equipment fitted with an RFID tag can be instructed only to work within a certain area or by authorised people. It can also be programmed to lock out users who don’t have the required certification, protecting the individual and also protecting the health and safety standards of the organisation.
… and good for the brand too
Once you start to look at things in this way, you realise that smart equipment isn’t just easier to find, control and secure. Nor is it just doing a better job for your customers (great though that is). It’s also helping to protect your brand – because it’s now part of a big, interconnected and complete picture. Every tool, device and process in your infrastructure is visible in a way like never before, enabling you as a materials handler to supervise and coordinate everything upstream and downstream, streamlining and optimising, so that the values for which you stand by and for which you’re known aren’t only maintained, but enhanced.
Make everything intelligent, make everything visible, make everything…contextually aware.
Making a device intelligent in this way makes it contextually aware. This greater level of intelligence links to systems which can then prompt events to happen based on the contextual information driven by auto-ID – effectively enabling relationships between devices to trigger onward activities and events. The benefits are clear; there is more visibility in the materials handling environment, cost efficiency can be improved and your customers needs are kept at the heart of the operation, so they’ll notice the difference too.
Zebra technologies are a global leader respected for innovation and reliability, offering technologies that give a virtual voice to an organization’s assets, people and transactions, enabling organizations to unlock greater business value. For more information, contact +44 (0)1628 556000, or visit www.virtualzebra.com