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How to Implement RFID Successfully
Select radio frequency identification as a solution only when its capabilities provide an immediate or projected benefit to a process that makes it more effective than choosing another technology.
Aug 09, 2010—Ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 radio frequency identification solutions, which operate at 915 MHz in the United States, are used by a variety of industries, including retail, military and supply chain management. Often lost in the hype and technical appeal of RFID is an explanation of why the technology is an ideal solution for many warehouse and distribution management issues.
1. Manage Expectations
Companies should select RFID as a solution only when its capabilities provide an immediate or projected future benefit to a process that makes it more effective than choosing another technology. The first step to take during an RFID project, therefore, is to evaluate your business' expectations against what a new RFID system can actually provide. Be critical of anything you read about the technology, because some sources of information may be inaccurate or misleading. Understand your company's perceptions of RFID's capabilities, and temper those expectations with ideas and plans grounded solidly in reality.
Understanding key processes, as well as RFID's place within that equation, is the most important aspect of a successful implementation. Always look at an RFID implementation as a process-improvement project. In deciding whether to utilize the technology, it is vital to analyze the current or upcoming business practices carefully, and to determine which aspects can be improved by implementing an RFID-based solution. This entails gathering information from multiple stakeholders—usually business management, IT staff members, maintenance personnel and end users.
3. Requirements Document
Even when implementing a small-scale project, it is critical to create a requirements document, which should describe your company's preferred process flow and the specific requirements necessary to implement that process. Significant considerations include software, hardware, RFID tags, environmental factors, regulatory concerns, reliability, security issues, network, throughput and maintenance. Additionally, functional responsibilities must be delineated and signed off in this document.
Other key benefits to a requirements document include preventing future problems and serving as the basis for system acceptance upon the project's completion. Although requirements may change or grow throughout the project's duration, this document will serve as a tool for managing "requirement creep" and out-of-scope tasks.
4. Performing a Site Survey
It is important to perform an RFID survey of a planned installation location. This survey should include both an RF-spectrum analysis to search for any interfering or competing signals in the area, as well as a physical survey to help plan the location and installation of any readers and antennas.
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