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Understanding the Role of RFID in Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is a complex undertaking that requires exceptional accuracy, efficiency, and consistency. Bar codes and other solutions still play an important part, but today RFID technology provides the gold standard in operational efficiency.

This versatile technology provides many industries with product identification, location tracking, inventory management, and other vital benefits. See how the technology and methods behind RFID in supply chain fulfill these roles.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Defined

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that provides practical benefits across many industries. A radio transponder produces a signal using radio waves, and the radio receiver picks up that signal.

Today, radio transponders can be incredibly small, fitting inside RFID tags suitable for attachment to any manner of products or packaging. The data they provide enables fast and accurate product identification and can carry a wide range of information.

RFID tech is even more versatile with the inclusion of passive RFID. These tags contain no internal power source, instead relying on power transmitted by the RFID reader. This enables even more compact tags, even wholly flat RFID stickers.

How RFID Works in Supply Chain Processes

The versatility of RFID technology makes it ideally suited to many steps throughout the supply chain process. From raw material management to putting the finished product into customers’ hands, RFID in supply chain management solves many challenges.

RFID in supply chain involves using tags, hardware, and software. A complete solution has individual parts, products, or containers receive tags, and then both automated and hand RFID readers relay vital data to the management software.

Production Stage

RFID tags are typically associated with warehousing and distribution, but they can deliver just as much impact during production. The use of RFID tags during production provides valuable real-time data during multi-stage processes.

As parts and components move between process steps, RFID tags automate tracking. You can always know the state of your factory floor in terms of the quantity and rate of products moving through each production stage.

This allows for real-time KPIs that can provide better decision-making on the factory floor. Not only can shift leaders and operators manage operations more effectively, but data accumulated over time enables optimization and strategy development.

Warehouse or Distribution Center Stage

RFID technology provides an excellent solution for warehouse and distribution challenges. Using hardware such as RFID portals can fully automate asset tracking, ensuring accuracy and eliminating the need for hand scanning.

With accurate accounting of part, component, and product movement within the warehouse and to other facilities, you always know where your inventory stands. You can ensure that containers always go where they’re supposed to with outbound reads.

RFID tags integrate seamlessly with warehouse management software to provide an intuitive and effective solution. You’ll always know where specific packages are and maintain a validatable history of all lot information and distribution steps.

RFID Applications in Supply Chain

RFID technology provides solutions across many applications in supply chain management. This includes just about every type of manufacturing environment. Anywhere that parts or components go through multiple process steps or warehouse management is required, RFID has something to offer.

Automotive manufacturing is a prime example of an industry where RFID shines. This industry faces considerable supply chain challenges, including container loss, misdirected shipments, and a high frequency of expedited shipments.

RFID technology simplifies container management and provides for greater inventory accuracy. Automotive manufacturers and suppliers can ensure that parts and components are headed where they need to be and be alerted when issues arise.

The use of RFID technology, in combination with automated tag reading at key steps and robust tracking software, provides real-time visibility for these manufacturers. They now have real-time data on inventory levels to guide their decision-making.

While automotive manufacturers provide a prime example, they are far from being the only area where RFID delivers significant benefits. Both commercial and industrial applications of all kinds can take advantage of RFID technology.

Anywhere that parts, components, or finished products are packaged, stored, or distributed can improve accuracy with RFID. Whether producing consumer goods or industrial equipment, manufacturers can improve the customer experience with accurate and on-time delivery.

The Benefits of RFID Technology

RFID offers a wide range of benefits for process and warehouse management. You can address many challenges and enjoy greater efficiency and reduced costs compared to other types of asset-tracking solutions.

With the right solution, RFID technology provides exceptional automation. The use of RFID portals at key points even reduces the need to use hand RFID readers. This level of automation both saves time and improves accuracy across your supply chain.

You don’t need to establish a line of sight with RFID tracking. Bar code labels can provide product identification similar to RFID tags, but scanners need a clear line of sight. RFID allows for bulk reading, streamlining key warehousing, and distribution steps.

You can also use RFID tags to carry much more information than bar codes. Depending on the specific tag used, you can store the complete lot, manufacturer, vendor, and other data – not just the product ID.

Depending on your specific application, read/write tags could be an effective solution. These tags aren’t just readable but can have new data written to them by the RFID reader.

Within the manufacturing process, RFID tags provide a valuable source of real-time data. You can use this data to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in operations. RFID tracking lets you better understand your process and optimize it moving forward.

Finally, RFID tags let you consolidate asset tracking and management within a single system. Real-time data ensures accuracy in your warehouse management system, which then provides a foundation for effective inventory and distribution.

A Sound Solution to Your Supply Chain Woes

RFID technology solves many supply chain challenges, but you need to know that you have the implementation and support you need. Surgere provides asset identification solutions that serve your unique manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution needs.

You can benefit from a comprehensive solution featuring the tags, hardware, and software to achieve operational efficiency with RFID technology. Find out more about our sensor technology and schedule a demo today.

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