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What Have We Learned About RFID?
While the past 10 years have seen ups and downs when it comes to the use of radio frequency identification, we now know a great deal about how and where the technology delivers value.
Mar 05, 2012—In 2004 and 2005, the hype regarding radio frequency identification technology was at its peak. Article after article was published by the mainstream media, touting the technology as revolutionary, and claiming it would transform the global supply chain. I used to cringe every time that I read such a story, because as much as I believed in RFID's ability to deliver business benefits, it clearly was not going to deliver them overnight.
Then, in 2008 and 2009, there were articles reporting that RFID was dead, that it had been abandoned by Wal-Mart and that it was too expensive to be of any practical use to anyone. Again, I cringed—but I never lost faith. It has always been obvious to me that RFID would be able to deliver significant benefits to companies, and it was just a matter of time before obstacles would be overcome and the technology would reach the point of maturity at which it could be deployed on a large scale.
What is interesting is that these companies represent the aerospace, electronics, energy, entertainment, manufacturing, military and retail sectors. In other words, RFID is delivering value to a small number of businesses across a wide variety of industries. That means other firms in those sectors can also benefit from the technology.
Here are some of the things we've learned about RFID during the past 10 years. Not surprising, they vary by industry:
• In retail, RFID enables companies to more effectively manage complex inventories. The ability to quickly count and identify items that look very similar but are different makes it possible to ensure that stores always have the correct items on shelves when customers want to buy them.
• In manufacturing, RFID can greatly reduce the cost of tracking work-in-process, by reducing or eliminating the need to scan bar codes. It can help companies better manage finished inventory and ensure that they always ship the proper items to the right customers.
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