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How to RFID-Enable Your Warehouse

These six steps will help you determine whether RFID is the right option for your warehouse operations—and, if so, how to proceed along the path to deployment.
By Jennifer Zaino
Mar 03, 2008—In warehouses around the world, many employees still manually record receiving, picking, packing and shipping activities, and that information is communicated after the fact to warehouse management systems (WMS).

That may be OK for some companies, depending on factors such as the type of warehouse, the kind of goods stored there, the value of those items and the cost of labor. But for those organizations whose objective is to improve efficiency in terms of identifying and locating inventory, or to ensure that goods arrive where they are supposed to go when they are supposed to be there—or both—some kind of automated identification system is generally warranted.

Of course, many warehouses are already performing some automatic identification with bar codes. But the technology has limitations: For instance, workers must still spend time unloading pallets to scan the bar codes on each box on a pallet before products can be moved into the warehouse. And if the warehouse is a link in a cold chain, bar-code scanners won't be effective, because condensation can build up on the scanner window as employees move in and out of freezing temperatures.

RFID provides many organizations with warehouse operations a promising alternative for improving inventory throughput and accuracy, as well as enabling cost savings. This includes consumer packaged goods manufacturers that are already tagging pallets and cases for customers just before they leave their facilities, in addition to companies in other industries that are not yet employing RFID.

The following six-step plan is based on the RFIDeploy program offered by Intermec, which designs and manufactures RFID devices and provides accompanying consulting, technical and software services. It is intended to help you determine whether RFID is the correct option for your warehouse operations—and, if so, how to proceed along the path to deployment.
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