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RFID Read Reliability Is Not an Issue
RFID is far more accurate than existing systems, yet some people continue to insist they can't adopt the technology until it is 100 percent reliable.
Jul 20, 2009—I was speaking with a researcher the other day who had been running some tests on the ability to read radio frequency identification tags on a wide variety of individual consumer products in random orientation. The rates were very high—98 percent or better—but the researcher said he was afraid to publish the results because opponents would say, "See, you can't use this technology—you'll miss 2 percent of every item scanned."
The researcher's concerns are justified. A lot of retailers, logistics companies and manufacturers express concerns about RFID not being able to read every tag, every time. I'm not sure if they're using this as an excuse not to deploy the technology, or they just don't understand that RFID is far more accurate than either manual counting or bar-code systems.
No, I'm not nuts. The truth is, manual counting—either simply counting or scanning a bar code on each item—isn't close to 100 percent accurate. If you think manual counting is accurate, spill a large jar of coins on the floor and ask 10 people to count them. You'll probably get 10 different numbers.
For anyone who thinks bar codes are more accurate than RFID, I suggest you run this test: Build two pallets. Put them on pallet jacks and wheel them both through a portal. See how many RFID tags you read, and how many bar codes you read. I guarantee you'll capture more RFID data than bar-code data.
RFID is clearly superior to current systems used in retail apparel stores. The University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center conducted a study at several Dillard's stores to test RFID's ability to improve inventory accuracy. During the study, a regular inventory count was done in the store by scanning items with bar codes. When RFID was used, inventory accuracy improved by 4 percent.
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