Don’t Be Short-Sighted About RFID

The technology offers the opportunity to greatly improve your operations, as long as you have the vision.
Published: September 30, 2019

One of the great things about being the editor of RFID Journal is that I get to interact with our readers and event attendees on a regular basis. I greatly enjoy helping folks understand how radio frequency identification technology can solve a business issue they struggle with, or introducing an attendee to an exhibitor that has precisely the right type of tag or reader for their application. But I also feel disappointment that so many companies are taking a short-sighted approach to RFID technology.

Case in point: I received a call last week from a gentleman who was looking to track a specific category of assets at his manufacturing facility in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area. I suggested he consider tracking a wider variety of assets and offered the names of some very experienced systems integrators that I thought could help his firm. “No,” he said. “I just want someone local who can help us keep track of these assets.”

I get the need to solve a pressing business problem. I also understand the desire to keep costs down by using a local solution provider. But I think the approach this company is taking is short-sighted and will end up hurting them in the long term. It’s sort of like putting in routers, switches and Ethernet cables, then only using the Internet for email, or like buying your employees flip phones because smartphones are more expensive. So what if your sales team drives around and misses meetings because they don’t have GPS and map software on their phones?

The gentleman I spoke to might end up hiring a local barcode integrator that doesn’t know RFID and won’t deploy the technology properly, which will cost the firm money. But even if the system is get set up properly, spending more on additional tags to track additional assets would increase the company’s return on investment. His approach almost guarantees that his firm will be leaving money on the table.

Many companies also try to save money by not sending employees to RFID conferences and exhibitions. They think they can research products online and deploy a solution quickly and cheaply. This also ends up costing them more money since they make mistakes that speakers might warn them about during a session, or they fail to meet solution providers with cheaper or better products.

RFID technology can reduce the amount of time required to count items by upwards of 98 percent. This means that businesses can count and locate items more frequently without investing large sums in the task. Increased asset visibility means improved asset utilization and reduced capital spending on assets that aren’t needed. Increased inventory visibility means increased sales and better margins.

RFID is a technology that can be used throughout an organization to identify, track and manage a wide range of physical objects used in your operations or that are sold to customers. Taking short-cuts to deploying such powerful technology is short-sighted.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.