Best Practices for RFID Deployment

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Many companies are benefiting from implementing RFID solutions to streamline inventory processes, track high value company assets and improve the customer experience. Before you begin your RFID deployment, check out our tips for deploying your solution.

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  • Starting off I want to note I put the words “best practices” in the title since RFID, although being widely adopted still has some sense of mystery about how it works. That, along with some of the claims we see with regard to what RFID can, and sometimes cannot. do creates a gap between what feasible and what’s not.
  • I’m Drew - If you go back to the 80’s I cut my teeth in automated data collection while I was still in college when barcoding and pre WiFi radio solutions were being adopted. This is the old 450-470MHz systems that you had to license with the FCC and 9800bps was fast! And I’ve enjoyed working with these technologies since then. There’s a lot of similarities between were RFID is now and those barcoding and radio powered systems back then. Let’s take a look at Impinj
  • I get quite a few questions about Grand Prix, mostly what is it, or what does it mean? The simplest way to describe Grand Prix is a platform of products, from tag silicon, to reader systems, that enable Gen2 compliance at the highest possible performance. So whether you’re just wanting to read tags, or have some type of high speed encoding platform, become a systems integrator, or even if you’re considering launching a startup that wants to make inlays and become a tag provider. Grand Prix offers the most efficient path to ensuring gen2 compliance, and high performance. If you look at the top left of the slide you’ll see a few different markets, retail, healthcare, consumer electronics, and logistics. Now there are many more use cases for RFID, the majority will fit into these categories and each of these have number of best practices for ensuring the results are consistent and repeatable. That being said we’re starting to see a transition in the market I’ll discuss in a moment. Most applications are handheld, portal, work-in-process (like a conveyor belt), or work station based. Some of these use cases are fully automatic, meaning once it’s setup, there is no human interaction, no procedure that requires items to be presented, it’s just part of the workflow and information is gathered automatically. Some require compliance and policies to be followed. Regardless of your approach it’s important to ensure that it fits in your corporate culture and will be accepted. The idea is to streamline work for the end users, not add on additional steps, or workflows. Sales floor associates would likely rather help customers more than stock, or go digging for back stock. And Nurses went to school to learn how to give care, not become computer operators.Regardless of your use case, Impinj’s Grand Prix product suite has the technology whether it be tags, embedded readers, handhelds, or full infrastructure systems along with best practices to evaluate and ensure your project is successful.
  • Chances are you have something you want either fix, or improve. In most cases someone else had a similar problem so let’s take a look at resources for research.
  • If you take a look at the Impinj website you will find well over 70 use cases, some even have videos, or a youtube link. That’s a great place to start your research, you can also take a look at the industry magazines like RFID Journal and others to find informamtion.When researching RFID uses your initial thought will most likely be to take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing. That might, or might not, be the best approach. For example: If you’re a retailer and want to ensure accurate shipping, you go and look to see what the other retailers are doing… and you find they are all working on shelf availability. When you think about it shipping is really a logistics use case, chances are you will find something outside retail that is similar. In this case the Carrier case study might be a better referecce point. By the way, someone in a non-competitive market is typically much more willing to share their improvement metrics and challenges. So you can modify your search terms, or just use the little request info form so someone at Impinj can direct you to the best fit. It’s okay we do this all the time.
  • Once you have an idea of what you want to do, how other people are doing it, you should have some rough calculations on cost and ROI. You need to work on the strategy to ensure your use case is feasible.
  • Forming a committee might not be fun, but it’s likely needed. Simple portal, dock, handheld, and isolated use cases are often streamlining an existing barcode application… it just happens much, much faster. Regardless, there is likely some interface, network, or operations people that will be impacted. So you need to include them early on in the process… you don’t just want to walk up to the IT folk and say, here’s your new system to support, or tell operations that the need to move a forklift driver to assembly to support the new process.More advanced use cases may cause a significant increase in data, if you’re scanning case level and you change to item level, and say each case has 24 items, you just increased your data load! And if you decide hey, this is all automated I can increase our quality by adding in additional check points, you may very well exponentially increase your database, network, and CPU loads. So operations might be really happy with the information and streamlined processes, but the back end systems may be impacted.Your team needs to be able to asses all areas of impact.
  • With your use case identified and team assembled.The best approach is to start with a base line of requirements. You already did much with your research. You need to identify the minimal requirements to obtain your objectives and ROI. It might be a simple portal, I have systems that started with 2 xPortals to perform a single task. Again, usually an automation of an existing process that took 5-10 minutes with barcodes, and now takes less than 8 seconds. That’s a pretty easy ROI to calculate.
  • Once you have them identified - Stick with your base line goals. Easy to say, hard to do.Many projects suffer from scope creep, the worst case is undocumented scope creep. Someone throws out an idea, or concept… sounds good, seems easy, and it’s part of the project without review or documentation. If you have a base line goal, established costs, and ROI, does it really make sense to start adding in requirements? It might, but it’s important to remember the initial goal and not get distracted by the secondary and tertiary benefits of the system. Those “easy add ons” may create a significant amount of work. Projects that I see fail, and yes RFID projects fail, is most often because there was never a clear goal defined, just some fuzzy vision of what might be, or the piling on additional requirements, rampant scope creep. The funny thing about additional requirements is they typically cause an exponential increase of data like I mentioned earlier… and add on significant delays or IT impact.
  • Hopefully at this point you have locked down the requirements and there will be no scope creep. Now you can revisit your initial calculations to ensure you’re still on track.
  • Your budget should be the total projected initial cost, plus the additional ongoing tag costs. Tags are pretty cheap, but if you are using them by the millions, or hundreds of millions, it can add up. The good news is tag costs continue to drop, not as fast as they did a few years ago, but as manufacturing processes are improved the savings are passed along. So the cost of a tag today is likely your worse case, and highest cost.
  • You may have already started discussions with a consulting company to ensure your use case is feasible. You may already know an industry expert, in many cases Impinj takes on an advisory role to make recommendations. Impinj will likely refer to you a partner, or partners that have the skills and solutions you need to be successful.
  • Choosing a solution provider is important.Many companies like to come up with their own approach, it’s inherent in their culture and viewed as a way to lower costs. Since RFID is still an emerging technology you will likely be better off working with a solution provider to ensure you are successful, they have experience and best practices to ensure the technology works. A great technology misapplied, or incorrectly installed, can be very a very frustraiting experience.
  • If you’re project is small, or you have some good examples or existing use cases, you may not need to pilot. However if you’re looking at a large rollout either in a single or multiple facilities, a limited installation is a good way to ensure all your project planning and calculations are on track. A pilot will allow you verify and in some cases refine your approach.
  • The pilot allowed you to asses your use case. Now it’s time to asses the overall solution, ensure your ROI is firm, and just use project management best practices - establish deadlines and milestones to measure success. By the way, I like to remind folks that just like you have lead times for your product, so do the RFID companies… any good project plan will take lead times into consideration. Be sure to communicate with your technology providers.Try to stick with your initial goals, right here is where scope creep and secondary goals jump in and make the vision of success fuzzy. Don’t let that happen.
  • You’re there - Install or rollout… if you’re part of a large company you may be transitioning this to a different team. Most likely, you will be overseeing the day to day details of the installation or rollout. Verify the findings of the pilot are being repeated in the expansion. And now is the time to start looking at those secondary and tertiary goals to start the process over again… although this time you will have your own best practices and streamlined approach. Also you will likely find those secondary goals much easier to justify since you have existing technology in place.
  • In some cases you may not expand, or stagnate… it might just sit there are work! The system provides the information you wanted in the automated approach you envisioned. Usually once a technology like RFID goes through an initial deployment it’s expanded. Automated data collection, And in this case truly automated data collection allows you to regain all that production time you lost when you deployed barcoding, or some other system, that required additional processes to get the information you wanted. In this case real-time data can be more real-time… and truly automated.If you follow these steps you won’t need to worry about a system stagnating.
  • I mentioned earlier how RFID is staring to transition to an infrastructure approach. This is especially true in retail, the ability to track inventory down to the item level, in real-time, with location - not only ensures shelf availability, but is essential to the success of omni-channel initiatives, improving the overall customer experience, and also enables better visibility to shrink.Expect to see this trend continue to grow and expand to other markets.
  • Let’s take some time to answer any questions submitted. Jill?
  • Best Practices for RFID Deployment

    1. 1. Best Practices for RFID Deployments Drew Gassiot
    2. 2. Best Practices for RFID Deployments Drew Gassiot Sr. Sales Director Impinj, Inc. February 2014
    3. 3. RFID Applications are Endless Medical Inventory Laundry Management Brand Protection Retail Inventory Customer Service Race Timing Asset Management Logistics/Security February 2014 Operational Configuration
    4. 4. February 2014
    5. 5. See how companies like yours utilize RFID. February 2014
    6. 6. Develop Your Strategy February 2014
    7. 7. Create an RFID Committee – consider including team members from operations, IT, security, etc. February 2014
    8. 8. Make a wishlist and use it to determine your goals. Establish a base line of requirements, prioritize needs, and identify future use cases and expansion. February 2014
    9. 9. Stick with your base line goals! If you add on additional goals or reprioritize your requirements understand the entire project is effected. February 2014
    10. 10. Do the Math February 2014
    11. 11. Create a budget of current and future costs to make sure that you are prepared to spend the necessary time and money…before you start. February 2014
    12. 12. Consider hiring a businessconsulting company with technical knowledge and experience evaluating RFID projects to do the business case analysis. February 2014
    13. 13. Choose Your Solution Provider Experience in your industry Will do testing Middleware built on standard platforms January 2014
    14. 14. Conduct a Pilot A meaningful pilot will test the exact hardware, software and tags that you have selected—in your environment. February 2014
    15. 15. Assess Your Solution Set deadlines and milestones to examine the RFID system’s impacts. January 2014
    16. 16. February 2014
    17. 17. February 2014
    18. 18. RFID Transforms Retail Inventory Management Loss Prevention February 2014 Point of Sale Customer Experience
    19. 19. RFID Deployment Checklist:  Research RFID solutions  Develop an RFID strategy  Establish reasonable expectations  Calculate the costs  Create an RFID committee  Select a solution provider  Conduct a site survey  Prepare for RFID  Pilot the solution  Assess your solution periodically  Expand to other areas of your organization Learn More: www.impinj.com February 2014
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