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Achieving Transformational Benefits With RFID

Companies need to think about radio frequency identification as more than just a technology for tracking lost tools or parts bins.
By Mark Roberti

Once management understands RFID's potential, create a cross-functional team that can develop a vision for how the technology can be used to enhance your company's strategic advantage. For example, your vision might be, "We are going to use RFID to deliver just-in-time to our manufacturing customers and increase our value to them."

That would require you to track work-in-process, finished inventory and eventually deliveries at and to your facilities, so that you know where parts or raw materials are located in near-real time. You might start with tracking WIP and give your customers visibility into the production of goods bound for their facilities. You might follow that with tracking finished inventory and auditing every shipment via RFID to ensure there are never any shipping errors that might negatively impact your customers. Once these projects are complete, you might require your suppliers to tag shipments and send you an advance shipping notice so that you have visibility into what is arriving at your facility and can deal with misshipments or delays before they affect your customers.

This infrastructure might be expanded to track parts, subassemblies, tools, manuals and other items at your factory. Eventually, you might use RFID in your offices to track laptops, file folders and other items to enhance productivity. In this way, you are leveraging RFID in a way that is truly transformational. You are becoming a truly digital company, and the data collected can be analyzed to achieve unexpected benefits. Eventually, AI will help you perfect your production processes and achieve true coordination with supply chain partners.

This is where we are going. The companies that figure it out first will have an advantage over those that are slow to pick up on the benefits of RFID and how it works with other technologies.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.

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