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article imageRFID technology helps increase supply chain security

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2018 in Business
Radio frequency identification tags can enhance the top-down understanding for businesses in terms of the manufacturing outfit and what happens to incoming and outgoing materials in the supply chain.
RFID (radio-frequency identification) can be directly integrated into an existing activity to determine how that activity is being performed; or data analytics can be used with RFID to indirectly make operations improvements. The technology is being increasingly adopted by companies since it is a low cost and functional enabler of the adoption of the Internet of Things in enterprises, for day-to-day operational functions. In other cases, the use of RFID technology is being used for more advance analytics.
With the simpler model first, passive RFIDs, which cost only a few cents each, are used for taking monthly inventories, such as retailers by business offices to track how much laser-printer paper is held in stock; or by restaurants tracking how much non-perishable goods they have in storerooms, to name a few examples. Leading providers in the RFID solutions include Impinj, Inc., NXP Semiconductors N.V., ITL Group, and HID Global, and there are scores of others in a market valued at $969.9 million in 2017.
Radio-frequency identification uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. These tags contain electronically stored information. There are two types: passive tags, which collect energy from a closeby RFID readers via radio waves; and active tags, which have a local power source, allowing them to operate hundreds of meters from a RFID reader.
RFID tags can be attached to cash  clothing  and possessions. The photograph shows a tagged bag in a...
RFID tags can be attached to cash, clothing, and possessions. The photograph shows a tagged bag in a store in London, U.K.
Inventory control
According to the website Manufacturing.Net, the use of RFID technology fits in with 'lean manufacturing' paradigms. Companies can gain information about the location of raw materials and finished products within a facility, indicating whether these are currently on the assembly line or stored away on racks waiting for retrieval. Data can also be gathered about the quantities of available inventory at one or more facilities. Other data analytics that can support lean manufacturing includes the speed at which parts and unfinished products move from through different manufacturing phases, and how long parts remain at each phase for.
RFID technology is also used to speed by day-to-day processes, in businesses and public bodies. With the latter, the Harvard Business Review reports on how the technology is being used at Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, U.S., to reduce the time that staff members spend finding equipment and each other. Furthermore, and it informs medical personnel when a colleague is attending a patient and therefore should not be interrupted.
Supply chains
RFID is also being used to simplify and to add security to the supply chain. On a simpler level in retail RFID technology takes away the monotony and reduces the time-consuming nature of stock control. For more complex supply chains, RFID technology can be used to support shipping worldwide, allowing good to be tracked and checking that storage conditions, like temperature and humidity, are correct. The tracking adds a security dimension, ensuring that the right goods are available in the right place at the right time. RFDI tags can be attached directly to the items and materials or alternatively they can be attached to the containers that carry them. Pallets, trailers, totes, carts, cargo containers, and reusable transport items can all be tagged.
Furthermore, the technology reduces the cost of keeping accurate inventory data, such as requiring fewer personnel and minimizing losses of goods. Amazon is one such example of a company that has designed, integrated, and deployed RFID technology within its facilities. These examples show how the interest in this track-and-trace technology continues to grow.
More about rfid technology, Supply chain, lean manufacturing
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