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RFID as a Strategic Tool

The technology can do a lot more than tell you where your parts containers are located, yet most companies are not taking full advantage of it.
By Mark Roberti
Mar 05, 2018

Imagine you are walking down the street in London and you look down and see an 11-inch-long stick made of holly. You pick it up, and upon inspection, you realize that it has a core of phoenix feathers. You realize you have discovered Harry Potter's magical wand. You immediately say "Expecto patronum," and a wispy shape of a tiger appears, a guardian against Dementors. You put away your new, powerful tool and never bother to figure out what else it can do.

Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it?

But that's exactly what I feel a lot of companies are doing with radio frequency identification technology. They need it to track parts containers, or tools or roll cages. They deploy a solution, receive the expected benefits, and that's it. There's nothing terribly wrong with this, of course. But it's sort of like finding Harry Potter's want and using it for just one thing.

RFID should be seen as a strategic tool that can be used to enhance your company's core strategic advantage. If you are a manufacturer that competes by producing goods at the lowest cost, RFID can be used in dozens of ways to take costs out of the system. Processes can be streamlined, capital expenditures in tools and containers can be cut, shipping errors can be slashed, worker productivity can be better tracked and improved, and so on.

If you are a retailer that provides a high-end experience to well-heeled shoppers, RFID can be used, first and foremost, to ensure your product is always available, no matter when, where and how your customer wants to buy it. But it can also be used to create interactive displays on the store floor, where a customer can pick up an item and immediately view a video or a screen containing complimentary items. It can be used to make smart changing rooms, in which shoppers can see information about that item, find out what other colors and sizes are in stock, and call a store associate to bring a different size.

USER COMMENTS

Kris Hughes 2018-03-06 12:41:49 PM
Great article Mark. I love your Harry Potter analogy. My take on this is that the heart of the RFID involvement revolves around the trigger that fires when a defined item moves into or out of a known location. The possibilities that can be derived from the knowledge are endless. Much of what we do revolves around a base software package that universally handles the location management and the triggering mechanisms. The presentation to the end user(s) is most often the piece that gets custom made. In many cases this is the simple piece, but requires custom graphics and interaction with other data. Thank you, Kris Hughes InformaTrac, Inc. (www.informatrac.com)
Christopher Woods 2018-03-20 11:16:05 AM
Mark, As a parent of two elementary school girls, all these school shootings is scaring the hell out of me - there was another today in MD not from DC, where I live. The political debate of the 2nd amendment and gun control seems to be moving forward but without a solution. I was thinking about an early warning system to notify schools if there was a gun (or more specifically an AR type gun) coming within proximity of a school. I know it is a long shot, but was curious to know the range of RFID technology. I did a couple of internet searches and ran across your article of RFID as a Strategic Tool. Would it ever be possible to get gun manufacturers to embed a passive RFID tag into the metal of the gun or have an aftermarket RFID tag embedded into a gun. Then instead of this nonsense of arming teachers, the schools could install RFID sensors around the perimeter of the school and get a couple minutes notice if one of these guns comes within a certain proximity of the school. If this is possible (I fully admit that this is a conceptual idea and I am no RFID expert or even amateur), I see several benefits - I don't think you can track certain kinds of passive tags, so there is no invasion of privacy issues; there is no addition registration required; it seems like a very low cost solution to protect our children; and finally there are probably some who would protest, but if the purpose is only an early warning when the gun enters school zones I would think that the pros far outweigh any cons. Thanks for your time, Chris Woods Washington, DC

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