Are the roles different in material handling?
For years, packaging companies have printed bar codes on products for their customers. Some packaging providers have looked into putting radio frequency identification transponders in boxes and other packaging materials to help customers identify products, reduce the incidence of counterfeiting or manage inventory.
There have not been many packaging companies that have deployed RFID systems for their own internal benefits, but a few have used the technology to manage packaging components or finished inventory. For example, Coster Group, an Italian manufacturer of packaging components, has boosted its daily logistics operational efficiency by 1.5 hours per staff member, thanks to its deployment of an RFID solution. The passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID system automated the tracking of goods from the point of manufacture until they were shipped, in order to make logistics processes more efficient within the plant. The system captures shipping data as products are transported from the production facility to DCs and on to customers (see Coster Group Boosts Logistics Efficiency).
Applications of RFID in material handling can be similar. RFID is often used to monitor materials flowing to the production line. Tags are placed on returnable transport items, reusable parts bins and other material-handling items. The goods within are associated with a tag on the container, and are tracked to improve efficiency. In addition, companies often utilize the technology to track the actual containers, since containers often end up missing or are stolen. RFID helps reduce these losses, and also decreases the amount that businesses spend annually to replace the lost items.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal