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Best Practices for Rolling Out RFID

Companies and systems integrators that have deployed an RFID solution at multiple locations say the key to success is following these eight steps.
By Samuel Greengard
Mar 02, 2014

In 2009, Disney deployed a radio frequency identification solution to manage costumes at one location within the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. Since then, it has expanded the solution to all costuming locations at that resort—and at Disneyland Resort in California, the Disney Cruise Line, Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland and Disneyland Resort Paris (see RFID Helps Disney Employees Get Into Character).

From 2010 through 2012, Cisco Systems deployed an RFID solution to track fixed assets at 70 U.S. data centers and research and development labs, as well as at facilities in China, India and the Netherlands (see Cisco's Business-Driven RFID Strategy).

Illustration: iStockphoto
In November, Checkpoint Systems announced that it had worked with a retailer to roll out an inventory- management solution at 1,000 stores in 100 days (see RFID News Roundup: Major North American Retailer Adopts Checkpoint Systems' RFID Solutions).

How did they do it? To find out, we talked to the people who led these deployments and to systems integrators who have helped other companies roll out an RFID solution at multiple sites. It is not a simple endeavor, they say. It involves careful planning and the ability to handle practical and technical challenges. But based on their experiences and the learnings they shared, there are common best practices that all companies, regardless of industry or application, should follow. Here, then, are eight strategies that can boost the odds for success.

1) Assemble a Business Plan
Every RFID expansion project requires a roadmap. If you have deployed several RFID applications at, say, a manufacturing plant—you're tracking assets, tools and work-in-process, for example—introduce one application at a time at the new location. The business plan should help you decide which task or business process to begin with, says Jason Warschauer, sales application engineer for HID Global's industry and logistics division.

A successful business plan takes into account physical site components, installation, costs, resources, training, solution components and post-implementation support, says Sue Flake, RFID director of business development at Motorola Solutions.

The business plan must be based on a sound methodology that focuses on up-front planning, understanding functional requirements and getting customer acceptance for the end solution—before testing and prestaging the software and hardware for each location, says Sarabjeet Chhatwal, senior director of professional services at OATSystems (a division of Checkpoint Systems). In addition, he says, you must be sure it is possible to accept items into the system and have the ability to tag and encode at a high volume.

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