What You Don’t Know About Your Physical Assets

Baseball teams know pretty much everything about every player and what happens on the field of play, but companies know next to nothing about what happens in their facilities.
Published: May 14, 2019

I’m a big baseball fan and I root for the New York Yankees (don’t hold it against me, please). Recently, I was reading an article about Gary Sanchez, a catcher for the Yankees, and why he is hitting so much better this year (see Here’s Why Sanchez Has Been So Good So Far). What struck me about the article was how much baseball teams (and writers) know about what happens on the field.

For example, the article mentions the percentage of ground balls Sanchez hits versus fly balls, the speed of the baseball as it leaves the bat just after impact, and the percentage of hits on fly balls and ground balls. The article doesn’t mention it, but the teams also know the arc of the fly balls, the distance traveled and the percentage chance that any ball hit will be caught based on these metrics.

Compare this to what companies know about what happens at their facilities. Retailers don’t know, for example, how many times an item is picked up, how many times it is tried on, or how often it is misplaced by a customer who did pick it up. They don’t know when an item is out of stock, or when it’s been stolen.

Manufacturers often don’t have a clue where parts bins, jigs and tools are. Many don’t know where work-in-process or finished inventory is located. Most don’t how long a part has been sitting in a warehouse, or which raw materials were first in and should be the first out of that warehouse.

Logistics companies, hospitals and other businesses all have a similar lack of data about the physical things they own and what happens to them within their facilities. Does it matter? Well, there’s a famous edict that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, so companies aren’t really managing many of their physical assets. This is costing them tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year, depending on a company’s size.

RFID, of course, can help. The technology can tell you where your physical items—tools, jigs, parts, inventory, etc.—are located in the real world. It can also provide near-real-time data regarding when and how often they’ve been moved, how long it’s been since the last time they were moved, when they are out of place and much more.

Companies have been getting by without this data since, well, the beginning of time, so why do they need it now? For the same reasons baseball teams need it: competitive advantage. If your competitors deploy RFID (and video, data analytics and other related technologies), and if they get this data and use it, then your firm will be at a disadvantage.

If you are a retailer and want to get up to speed quickly on how RFID can help your operations, I would encourage you to sign up for RFID Journal LIVE! Retail @ RetailX. If you are in Europe, you can attend RFID Journal LIVE! Europe. And if you are not sure how RFID can help you, send me an email. I’d be happy to offer you free, confidential, one-to-one advice.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.