Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a form of wireless communication that uses radio waves to identify and track objects. Today, RFID tags are being attached to a variety of “things”: pharmaceutical products, clothing, identification cards, even farm animals are equipped with a tag so they can be identified beyond doubt along the whole supply chain. RFID Tracking is one of the areas that is making manufacturing intelligent.
So how does it work?
The principle is pretty simple: each RFID tag has a unique identification number (UIN) attached to it. The RFID tag continuously sends out a radio signal carrying the UIN. Then an RFID reader/ scanner extracts the UIN of every tag in its range and updates the information to a database. This means a manufacturer can know precisely when a product leaves its factory, the middleman can track it on its journey to the customer, and the organization can process its status as “received” when the product arrives at its destination.
Isn’t this the same as a Barcode?
Actually it’s very different. The first major difference is that barcodes are designed to be scanned one at a time whereas many RFID tags can be scanned at once. The below table shows a comparison between Barcode tracking and RFID tracking:
It’s clear that RFID is the best way to track your objects and do more. Most manufacturers are making tremendous savings by deploying RFID technology. With this technology, a manual inventory process that used to take five people a combined 100 hours to complete can now take about 2 hours. It can also help manufacturers perform all-manual counts much faster and more accurately than ever before.
Other business benefits include:
- Reliable track and trace in challenging physical environments.
- Increase efficiency and cut down on rework.
- Improve the quality and transparency of data across the supply chain.
- Easily implement flexible manufacturing processes and meet changing demands.
- A portable database that can be accessed from anywhere on any device for real time information.
Increasing your speed and accuracy with visibility throughout your supply chain with today’s technology can eliminate inefficiencies and increase productivity. If you want to integrate RFID technology in your organization, check out Rapid365® for Intelligent Manufacturing – which enables faster ROI while still affording manufacturers the ability to scale, add on features / functionality, and innovate as needed.