How RFID Is Transforming Manufacturing as We Know It

Pairing RFID and new technologies like IoT helps reshape the manufacturing landscape.
Published: May 26, 2021

Ed. Note: This post originally appeared at the blog of  RFID Journal LIVE!, the world’s largest conference and exhibition focused on RFID and related technologies.

Developments over the last few years demonstrate that exact control and precise tracking of every portion of your production, sourcing, and manufacturing process sets you apart from other suppliers. Using radio frequency identification (RFID) in manufacturing has allowed major players in global trade to streamline every step of the process and achieve previously unthinkable levels of quantities with shorter lead times and cost-effective processes.

In our new digital age, most people have a computer in their pocket and the key for manufacturing organizations is to  utilize these new capabilities. Pairing RFID and new technologies like IoT helps reshape the manufacturing landscape, providing organizations with innovative ways to fulfill commitments, generate new sources of revenues, and increase production capacity without exposing valuable human resources to additional risk.

RFID for Manufacturing Processes
RFID gives you the capabilities you need to deploy an intelligent and accurate manufacturing process. Wherever there is a need for greater control or oversight, you can implement cost-effective RFID systems that inform you about problems early, help you investigate issues, and monitor your efficiencies across every stage of your operations.

Inbound logistics, inventory management, distribution, and fulfillment processes all  benefit from RFID. Some manufacturers may want to go further, chasing new efficiencies and track the entire lifecycle of a product. In production environments, RFID also helps track the providence of each component. You get process visibility that increases product quality and a way to validate your supply chain efficiencies. In modern factories, these capabilities are pushing current boundaries to the extreme.

A Case for RFID in the Manufacturing Industry 4.0 and Smart Factories
Across all industries like healthcare and consumer electronics, RFID in manufacturing adds efficiency and control to the production process. Here’s how RFID is reshaping supply chain, production, and last-mile fulfillment processes for modern manufacturers. Apart from simply tracking components throughout the supply chain and monitoring inventories, Industry 4.0 demands that you transform traditional processes and implement smart, autonomous systems. You need to consider every element in your process including material management, process tracking, data capturing, system protection, and product validation to compete in today’s manufacturing industry.

You can capture, leverage, and analyze information from every portion of your process and generate sophisticated data that allows you to increase efficiencies daily. With a variety of RFID label types and data recorders available, Industry 4.0 can use smart devices and readers to track every element of the industrial process required. RFID provides you with greater business intelligence, supply chain agility, and manufacturing capabilities using  JIT and JIS processes.

Comprehensive Process Overview and Production Insights
The main goal in manufacturing is to improve efficiencies continuously for every step of the process. Material handling, sourcing, and shipment are similarly important to elements like assembly, packaging, and delivery. Staging a production line, acquiring raw materials, and having precise assembly instructions available are challenges manufacturers face every day.

A simple snag (like what happened in the  Suez Canal recently) can cause delays with far-reaching repercussions for the entire company. Although RFID cannot prevent a container from reaching its destination, tracking its exact position in your supply chain does allow you to respond to delays and inform customers. RFID supports both pre-and post-sales tasks in global operations, helping major enterprises limit disruptions and alerting customers about shortages early when required.

Automating Manufacturing with RFID
In the automotive industry, automated assembly lines have drastically changed production methods and techniques. How these facilities keep track of every single product that leaves the lot sounds like science fiction. RFID helps them keep track of every component across international borders until installation. The capability to track every single component from its providence to its fitment in an automobile is something remarkable.

Today, manufacturers are using robotics more than ever and it’s helping produce safer, more reliable, and economically viable vehicles in factories around the world. Unique VINs programmed onto RFID tags help with all kinds of processes, including recalls and tracking precise shipment locations if something did go wrong in any of the lots. The same process applies to any other type of product.

New RFID Applications in Manufacturing
RFID tagging and tracking is now a cost-effective method to keep tracking of every single product in your manufacturing, procurement, and distribution processes. You can improve your process for managing non-conforming materials (NCM), establish complete control, and enable resources to access data about your processes from any location.

Considering recent revelations derived from big data, the use of RFID in manufacturing provides today’s organizations with valuable insights into every stage of their supply chains, manufacturing, and fulfillment processes. It gives you the ability you need to improve:

Security: You can secure products against theft while also tracking each item through the plant floor. It’s also possible to replace passwords when someone accesses a control panel to modify parameters, ensuring exact control during the manufacturing process.

Production: For production supervisors, RFID allows precise tracking during every step of the manufacturing process. Quantities, projections, and expected delays are quantifiable and measurable, giving the entire company accurate data to operate from.

Providence: In manufacturing, you’ll want to have a decent grasp on the origins and quality of the components you use in your products. RFID in manufacturing helps you to track and trace components once you’ve received a bad lot.

Testing:  Before any product leaves your facility, you can implement robotics and remote sensing to ensure it is built to the highest specification and falls comfortably within acceptable tolerances. With unique identification, you can trace the records for each product and prevent the shipment of faulty or defective items.

Learn more about RFID in manufacturing applications at  RFID Journal LIVE! 2021. To see how the last year transformed companies using RFID technology in manufacturing, sign up for LIVE! this September. If you can’t make our in-person events, we have a range of digital and virtual summits providing the latest information about RFID technologies in a variety of industries and applications. To sign up for one of our upcoming events and learn more about RFID in manufacturing, production, and logistics, check out  this page