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Give RFID Systems an Analytical Edge

With an analytics and integration services (AIS) layer at the edge of enterprise systems, RFID solutions will become scaleable and bring real-time visibility and true automation.
By Hersh Bhargava
Integration of RFID data with existing enterprise information systems forms a vital part in RFID deployments. Integration is the ability to communicate the right RFID event or aggregated events or alert to the right process in the right format. It is a complex process today because RFID middleware sends granular RFID events to the existing systems, leaving them to deduce information and route the right event to the right process. When an RFID network expands, changes have to be updated in three places: the middleware, the integration layer and the processes of concern in the resource management systems. This increases the cost and the time of integration and maintenance.

AIS can simplify the integration process to a great extent by using the combination of RFID data analysis and standard integration adapters (a software component) within AIS to connect to multiple business applications (e.g., ERP, WMS, TMS, SCM). In other words, integration becomes a simpler process when the logic for extracting meaningful information resides within the AIS layer and the communication to the existing system occurs via standard integration adapters. In this way, expanding the functionality or features for the entire RFID-enabled system will become easier and cost-effective.

Figure 2: Supply chain example showing integration and scalability of AIS.

For example, an existing ERP system has a mechanism to place orders automatically when the inventory of high-value items goes below a certain level. RFID can be used to track inventory levels and trigger the order-placement process when the inventory goes below safety-stock level. In order to achieve this, the RFID middleware will notify AIS each time a reduction in inventory occurs, and AIS will keep track of the inventory count. When the inventory level goes below the safety-stock limit, AIS can directly invoke the inventory-replenishment process.

In order to aggregate, analyze and present relevant information in real-time from RFID networks and to make enterprise information systems respond in real time, there needs to be an analytics and integration services layer at the edge of the enterprise systems. RFID data needs to be assimilated at the enterprise level and converted to actionable business intelligence so it complements the existing enterprise information systems without affecting them. AIS can make RFID solutions scaleable and powerful, while bringing a real-time visibility and true automation to the RFID-enabled enterprise system as a whole.

Hersh Bhargava is the founder of RafCore Systems, which provides software tools for optimizing development, integration, deployment and maintenance of RFID solutions.

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