RFID: Radio-frequency Identification. A technology that utilizes radio waves to transfer data from an electronic RFID tag, which is attached to an object. The data is transferred through a reader to allow the object to be identified and tracked. Active RFID tags have batteries and transfers information at scheduled intervals Passive RFID tags may or may not have batteries and must be within close proximity to a reader to transfer information
Fixed RFID reader- A reader that reads RFID tags in a stationary position. E.g. toll booth Mobile RFID reader- A reader that is mobile when it reads RFID tags. E.g., hand held devices, vehicle mounted readers.
Barcode readers require a direct line of sight to the printed barcode; RFID readers do not. RFID tags can be read at greater distances (300 feet for RFID vs. 15 for barcode readers) RFID readers can read RFID tags much faster (forty or more tags per second). Barcode readers take much more time due to direct line of sight limitations- takes a half second or more to read a barcode.
RFID tags are more rugged and reusable than barcodes. Printed barcodes must be exposed and are subjected to wear and tear. The electronic components of the RFID tag are protected in a plastic cover and are often implanted in the product. Barcodes have no read/write capability. Additional information cannot be added to the barcode. RFID readers can communicate with the tag and alter or add information RFID tags are more expensive than barcodes
Wal-Mart issued a mandate in 2003 that all suppliers should be tagging cases and pallets with RFID tags by the end of 2006 Spurred a lot of innovation by the RFID industry- investments in reader technology, chip technology and software.
Perception- Proponents of RFID promised unrealistic results for an unrealistic price Functionality- Radio waves were not stable. RFID tags did not work well around metal or liquids. High failure rates. Price- RFID technology was expensive.
Better tag technology (silicon) that can be read more accurately and at increased ranges and requiring less power Better reader technology that eliminates false reads; overcame the environmental limitations of liquids and metals. Price decrease- went from developing a chip to work with solutions to developing solutions that would work with existing tags on the market.
Retail Supply Chain is an open loop: Several participants are out of the retailer’s control, including manufacturers, distributors and transportation providers. Impossible to ensure compliance unless every party shares data. Retailer’s store is a closed loop: Starts at the retailer’s distribution center and stops in the storeroom, the shelf and at the point of sale. Retailer controls each stop and can ensure compliance.
RFID allows the Retailer to know whether the size, style, and color it needs to make a sale is on the shelf or in the back room. Retailers putting a fixed RFID reader between the back room and the sales floor. When the product leaves the back room the inventory levels are automatically updated. Retailers also audit the shelves with a mobile RFID reader which enables them to replenish inventory.
Manufacturers are applying RFID technology to keep track of the manufacturing process. Track process steps instead of individual items, crates or pallets. Tags may be used as a mobile database for manufacturers. Item reaches a workstation and is scanned by a reader. The tag tells the operator or workstation what work needs to be performed. Aircraft maintenance organizations use RFID to track the location of critical tools required for repair operations can also track whether tools have been inspected or calibrated RFID is also used a resource management tool to keep track of people working in hazardous environments.
Convergence- the idea that many automatic data capture technologies work best when they’re used in conjunction with other complementary technologies. RFID can interface with bar codes, senses, WiFI and GPS. It can RFID interfaces with Management Warehouse Solution
Three warehouses process 20,000 containers of product daily. Products are placed in returnable plastic containers (RPCs) and loaded onto independent distributors’ trucks. RPCs rarely were returned to the warehouses. Mission Foods had no way to track if container was returned to a different warehouse or at all. Nearly 100 percent of RPCs were being replaced each year at an annual cost of $3.5 million.
Mission Foods implemented an RFID-based asset management and tracking system. RPCs are tagged with RFID labels. RFID reader records the pallets and associated RPC as the distribution truck leaves the warehouse. RPCs are processed and scanned as “returned” as they are returned to the warehouse. Mission Foods is able to see where the RPC is located in real time Replacement budget for RPC rate has decreased to 20% for damaged or unreturned containers; Actual replacement rate is about 4%