Short for “radio frequency identification,” RFID tracking is a type of technology that sees digital information encoded on a particular type of smart label that can then be captured via a reader device. In a larger sense, it’s similar in concept to a barcode in that information contained on the tag is matched up with data contained in a database. But in terms of asset tracking, it brings with it a wide range of different benefits that most businesses cannot afford to ignore.
The Power of RFID Tracking: Breaking Things Down
A typical RFID tracking system is made up of three different elements: the tag itself, a reader, and an antenna. RFID tags contain both a circuit and an antenna, which are used to store information and transmit it, respectively.
The associated reader is what converts that information into electronic data that can then be compared with that which is already contained in an associated database. That information can then be stored or even analyzed at a later time depending on the specific application in question.
Within the context of your average supply chain, RFID tracking technology offers a host of unique benefits – chief among them being labor reduction. RFID is a perfect opportunity to automate the supply chain as much as possible, helping to keep track of certain assets in a way that frees up the valuable time of human employees so that they can focus on those matters that truly need their attention. It’s been estimated that in your average distribution center, labor accounts for between 50% and 80% of all distribution costs. With the deployment of RFID technology, however, receiving check-in times can be reduced by between 60 and 93%.
A big part of this has to do with the enhanced visibility that RFID trackers bring with them. The “smart tags” themselves are “always-on” – leading to greater visibility for products as they move from one part of the supply chain to another. Not only can this help reduce loss because it’s easier to track certain items and raw materials in transit, but it can also reduce waste by identifying certain processes that may not be as efficient as certain organizational leaders thought they were.
But one of the biggest benefits of RFID technology comes by way of the significant volumes of data that it’s possible to create, collect and analyze. Armed with accurate, real-time information about where certain items are at various points of the supply chain, it’s, therefore, easier to share information between not only employees but also different suppliers, disparate warehouses, transportation companies and more. All of this arms key stakeholders with the actionable insight they need to make better and more informed decisions all the time – thus virtually guaranteeing the smoother transportation of goods from one part of the supply chain to the next.
SpotSee’s ShockWatch RFID Passive RFID Tags and Tracking products are just one example of a viable solution to that end. In addition to helping maintain visibility into the current location of an item at all times, they’re also used to deter, detect and even diagnose damage all throughout the supply chain.
SpotSee’s solution automatically singles out which products need inspections for damage upon arrival at their destination, and which ones are okay to continue on their journey. This alone can help uncover trends and patterns in terms of package handling that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. Another added benefit of this is assigning a level of accountability in the process that simply didn’t exist before – if you know where the damage occurred, you’re in a better position to fix the underlying problems that caused it.
But more than that, SpotSee’s RFID tracking helps to automate reporting in a way that contextualizes the information you’re receiving. All a user has to do is scan the product in question into their enterprise resource planning or warehouse management system and they will instantly get a report on any g-force threshold events. Literally thousands of packages can be analyzed and evaluated for damage in a matter of seconds – allowing you to stop a small problem today before it has the potential to become a much bigger (and more expensive) one down the road.
In the end, RFID tracking has emerged as the natural evolution of the barcode – something that certainly had its place, albeit in an era that has long since passed. These days, supply chain managers need more actionable information faster than ever – and RFID technology is one of the best ways to help provide it to them.