By Daniel Dombach, Director EMEA Industry Solutions at Zebra. Radio-frequency identification technology (RFID) has sparked a great deal of interest in recent years for its inventory tracking power. Indeed, a rising number of manufacturers, transportation and logistics suppliers and retailers have come to realise RFID technology is a critical component in supply chain management.
Now more than ever, businesses are focussed on maximising supply chain efficiency to sustain profitability. Companies with part, or all, of their business focused on transportation and logistics recognise the urgency of decreasing cost, developing service, productivity and growing profit from one end of the supply chain to the other. While RFID technology has not yet been extensively used by the entire supply chain industry, it is well recognised and the accuracy, reliability and productivity it allows is becoming increasingly difficult to resist.
RFID is a relatively mature technology having been in the market for a while and is set to pick up speed. The technology, which is most frequently used for track and trace, is becoming increasingly important for manufacturers as demand for individualised products rises. For many businesses the cost of innovation can be off-putting. However, in a rapidly evolving, digitally focussed era, decision makers must ask themselves, what the cost is of non-compliance. In the case of RFID chips, the cost to business has been steadily decreasing and the long term benefit far outweighs the cost. Businesses today need to invest in technology that they can quickly and constantly benefit from to increase RIO.
Electronic tag has multiple advantages. In the manufacturing processes, the usage of RFID technology means:
• Less manual work since products can be counted in seconds
• Lower costs, as labour intensive tasks can be carried out faster and more accurately
• Improved visibility, as real time information is made available
• Improved planning, with the administration and planning are more precise
It is fair to say Zebra Technologies has the broadest portfolio of RFID in the market place. However, one particular customer case study jumps to mind as a good example of innovative usage of a RFID system. A well-known luxury car manufacturer uses RFID to track and locate tolls and products in its production line. In fact, the technology has been implemented to prohibit a worker using the wrong tool in the wrong environment or capacity. Having complete overview of where tools, workers and products are at all times has an invaluable impact of efficiency of work and cost saving proposition to the business.
Looking forward, the technology developers at Zebra are exploring how RFID can be coupled with other technologies to improve the level of information a business is able to gain, such as optimised packaging methods, sizing and dimensions elements vital for planning and logistics. As the quality, speed and security of RFID technology increases the measurement of value for investment will also shift. RFID technology makes product inventory control and intelligent logistics technologies achievable and accurate. It will make the entire logistics management transparent and effective by increasing the automation and decreasing the error rate. As such, there is little doubt RFID will continue to grow in importance across industries and for anyone that chooses to put off implementing appropriate systems will find themselves thoroughly left behind.