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How RFID Can Help Manufacturers Thrive in Recessionary Times

With every economic crisis comes opportunity. A well-scrutinized RFID project has the potential to yield a strong return on investment.
By John DiPalo
Four Priorities for Today's Economic Climate
If you want to run with the best, and strike a balance allowing both cost reductions and smart investments, you should strongly consider these four practices:

1. Run Lean Operations: Drive excess expenses out of your organization. You can reduce internal costs by improving employee productivity and streamlining operations. Strike a balance that allows both cost reductions and smart investments. RFID applications can increase supply chain visibility, enabling you to take a deeper look into your processes—which can result in significant savings.

2. Automatically Collect Data Regarding Key Supply Chain Activities: Reliable information is the key to streamlining supply chain execution. RFID offers unprecedented levels of data reliability and intelligence that can be used to eliminate waste, target resource reductions where the business will benefit most, align manufacturing with business priorities, manage trading partners, maintain high levels of customer service, gain supply chain agility and more.

3. Integrate RFID With Your ERP Backbone: Real value is derived when RFID-delivered operational data is tightly integrated with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This ensures not only that there is a single version of the truth, but also that your company's business planners, customer service staff, and sales and finance departments all have real-time visibility into what is actually taking place at remote locations.

4. Drive Business Value: Corporate scrutiny of new investments is at an all-time high, as it should be. Delivering projects on time and on budget is no longer enough—companies must also focus on value. Many leading firms are adopting value-based best practices. This begins with a business case for every project or technology solution—RFID or otherwise—that identifies clear business ownership and specific measurements of success. All projects compete for the same funds, so those with the highest value and lowest risk should get funded first. Projects can be considered a success only once the promised value is realized.

Economic downturns are never fun, nor can they be easily predicted, but they do offer the opportunity to reevaluate business processes and optimize execution activities. When RFID technology is used to deliver accurate real-time supply chain information that is integrated with business systems, it has the potential to improve virtually all aspects of business operations, including planning and forecasting, customer service and satisfaction, production operations, warehousing and distribution operations.

Equally as important as technology is a structured approach to uncovering inefficiencies and areas for improvement that will offer an appropriate return on investment. Any RFID solution that you consider must meet short-term economic needs with a view toward long-term business requirements, in order to maximize ROI.

John DiPalo is the senior VP of operations at Acsis, a global provider of track-and-trace solutions for supply chain safety, security and efficiency.

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