An Introduction to RFID
RFID technology promises a world of networked & interconnected objects. Everything from tires to
toothbrushes might soon be in “communication range”, heralding a new era; one in which today’s internet (of
computers) will give way to the “INTERNET OF THINGS”. And the possibility of “things communicating with
The potential application areas are mind-boggling. However, two broad trends are certain:
o The current smart card technology will be replaced by “contact-less smart cards”. This in turn will
usher in the “Internet of people”.
o Bar-codes will give way to the RF-tag (electronic bar-code). This in turn will enable articles to be
sensed in real-time.
The context-sensitive information (who, what, where & when), along with their logical inter-relationships
(who was with what at time X), which RFID makes available, unleashes a range of possibilities, and range
new generation real-time applications – in all walks of life.
Global standards have been formulated, and now, there no stops to the rapid adoption of RFID:
o ISO 15693 – The standard for contact-less smart card applications
o EPC Global – for implementation of globally visible supply chains, and tracking an item, at the
unit level (say on the retail shelf).
A. Context sensitive healthcare from Sofscript
Context-sensitive healthcare is defined as “the ability of systems, applications, devices, persons and clinical
spaces to automatically initiate actions, or be controlled, based real-time events, or relevant circumstances”.
Pre-determined responses are possible without active human intervention.
Context-sensitive systems can measurably improve healthcare safety and accuracy and dramatically
increase financial and operational performance of the “total healthcare system” – with benefits to all
To deploy such applications, the requirements are:
o Positive identification of persons and things
o Real-time Location Identification
o Time-stamp of “events”
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology enables a variety of context-sensitive applications such
o Automated Billing & Record Keeping
o Automated Patient Safety Monitoring
o Automated Medication Safety and & Documentation
o Automated Medical Device Control & Asset Tracking
o Real-time Inventory Management of critical items
o Automated Hospital Administration, Access Control & Security Management.
The range of possibilities are mind-boggling, each with it’s level of sophistication, technological complexity
and cost-benefit ratios.
Sofscript has deep domain knowledge and the technical expertise to deliver “complete” context-sensitive
(RFID) healthcare solutions.
Here are some reasons why hospitals must consider RFID:
Reduce medical errors, with accurate data.
The Institute of Medicine has estimated 98,000 deaths per year in the US, on this count.
Improper data the cause of surgical errors, 1 in 25 times. Many of these errors are attributable
to “errors during manual data entry”.
Because RFID enables automated sensing, the incidence of errors of manual intervention may
be largely prevented.
An improvement in Patient care.
• Personalized services
Every in-patient can be identified (by his wrist band) and this identity is linked to
patient data. Which in turn make “personalized” service – diagnosis, medical
procedures, drug administration, diet, billing, and other procedures possible.
• Reduced cycle times
Currently, large proportion of staff time is lost in “searching” - for patient records,
pathology sample, X-Ray. Once the RFID (identification) is integrated with the
Hospital Information System, a sharp increase in staff productivity is possible.
Better return on capital employed.
• Critical inventory such as stents, will be closely monitored.
• Expensive assets will be available at the right place & time.
Security and Hospital Administration will improve.
Despite access to the “public”, the hospital must remain a highly secure. Manual security
systems are not capable of “enforcing” security. But RFID can provide a robust and automated
security system, 24x7!
B. RFID in Logistics & Supply Chain Management.
Logistics RFID-enabled solution Potential Benefits
Receiving Electronic ASN available Accuracy and speed of receiving
Incoming “container” could be soft tagged – for e.g. operations improved.
contains waybill. Verify with ASN.
Dock door readers automatically read RFID tags
Receipt updates can be made in
MINUTES. In manual
attached to pallets, cases. High value items can be
operations, it can take 2-3 days,
on average. A DIRECT
SAVING OF 2-3 DAYS
Pre-packaging As per customer specifications. “Slap & ship” RFID labels, to
Provide “slap & ship” service. meet compliance mandates.
Put into RF-tagged put-away bins EXPORTERS VERY EAGER
FOR THIS SERVICE
Put-away Forklift and locations (cells) are fitted with RFID Put-away accuracy improves to
readers. nearly 100%- The items are
Put-away containers are “soft” tracked – i.e. based on always available at the intended
container id, its contents can be derived e.g. “100 9inch locations. Estimated 3-5%
bolts are put-away on shelf S.101”. shrinkage is eliminated by RFID.
A wi-fi link for communication between interacting Real-time inventory reduces
devices is set-up – a put-away list sent to a forklift “cycle count” costs by 95%.
Order-filling Customer’s order-fill instructions are converted to pick- System-wide visibility improves
lists (and pick-paths), after verifying for availability of fill-rate, e.g. items for order in
parts and any other criteria e.g. dealer credit level, etc. the receiving dock. RFID
Dealer-wise “dispatch containers” (again soft tracking Enabled, visibility has enabled
enabled) are created – i.e. container –id is associated companies achieve 95% facing /
with details such as customer address, packing list on-line fill rate, and 98% system
details, etc. fill rate.
The picking time is reduced from
hours to minutes.
Dispatch The correct dispatch containers are loaded on the Track & Trace service can be
correct vehicle. The waybill can be soft-tracked to the offered to customers.
dispatch container. Dispatch errors eliminated.
2-5% error rate made virtually
C. RFID in Retail Environment.
Real-time visibility of inventory, across the supply chain.
Real data and Analytics – will drive merchandising, promotion, product placement,
replenishment and planning decisions
Best Practice Enabler Comments
Pricing , Product Placement RFID enabled “smart shelf” High value players, serious – jewelry,
and Promotion strategy aligned Following the shopping cart watches, ready-made garments
Flexible buy-back. Retailers • RFID tags for authentication In pharmaceuticals – anti-
give space more willingly. counterfeiting mandatory.
Pro-active information re: expiry
Sales incentives based on sell- Accurate POS data from retailer TLOG data shared through web-
Single stage monitoring of Pull-based, single point for 3PL companies will have to
Continuous Replenishment replenishment provide this service
System • Automatic Triggers Track& Trace, GPS, RFID…
• Smart shelf again! Stocks of SKU <epc> at
Demand fulfilled by a Locations <reader1, ….n> are
consolidated “virtual warehouse” <s1….sn>.
• Stock information across all
• Cross docking
Best Practice Enabler Comments
Reduction in replenishment Speed up receiving process at all B2B and B2C exchanges are
lead times stages: proving their value. Web
• ASN services standards define
• Web-services (like EDI, but templates, workflows, etc.
XML based) • ebXML
• Automatic update of • ROSETTANET
inventory records (RFID • ODETTE
reads) • HL-7
Reduce Lot size. Increase Reduce ordering (and receiving)
replenishment frequency and costs
product variety. • Automatic
• Web-services to
Manage LTL cost effectively Accurate and speedy Hub & 3 PL must come up to steam
Spoke operations by 3 PL
• Cross Docking