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Hampton Unlocks ROI From RFID

A supplier of locks and lighting to Wal-Mart deploys RFID "at minimal cost" and achieves benefits, including faster invoice payment and the ability to know which goods are lost or stolen.
By Jonathan Collins
When a pallet of RFID-tagged cases is complete, an additional RFID label is placed on the pallet and, within Hampton's WMS system, the pallet tag is associated with the case tags loaded on that pallet.

In June, Hampton expects to begin shipping tagged cases and pallets to three of Wal-Mart DCs, instead of just the one in Sanger. In order to do that, Hampton says it has already started work on phase two of its RFID deployment. For that second phase, the company will increase the speed and volume of cases that move through its RFID system from processing about 35 cases per minute to more than 100 cases per minute. That will mean handing over management of the RFID tagging and shipping process to its warehouse staff instead of the IT staff, which have until now put together the weekly RFID tagged shipments to Wal-Mart. In addition, as part of phase two, Hampton is looking to move away from using bar codes labels on its cases to instead relying solely on RFID labels and readers.

Eventually, Hampton says it will push back the RFID labeling of cartons to its overseas production facilities. The expected benefits of doing this include the ability to track product in its incoming supply chain, to more quickly receive product and track it within its own warehouse and to eliminate the cost to manually apply the RFID tags in-house. This third phase will be implemented when it makes financial sense to tag all cartons at the factory and will depend on tag costs and how many of Wal-Mart’s DCs have become RFID-ready. The company says it would not add value to ship RFID tags to DCs that cannot read them.

Tagged products coming off the shipping conveyor

Even with work still left to do, the company is confident that investing in RFID early has already paid dividends and that by working alongside RFID vendors, it has been able to build an RFID network that it understands and can adapt as required. The company is so pleased with its RFID deployment that, at Wal-Mart’s request, it has agreed to present its experiences to the next 200 Wal-Mart suppliers that have been mandated to tag their shipments to the retailer later this year.

“We see significant value in using RFID to increase our supply chain visibility, and we are looking for a way to be supportive to the industry to make sure the technology gets developed and deployed,” says Rick Tysdal.

“The only things holding us back are tag costs and the emerging technology, both of which will improve as more companies adopt,” adds Millsap, “thus the reason for my RFID evangelism.”

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