By “manage,” I mean keep track of current inventory locations. For instance, say I were to receive 52 pallets of different goods at a 15,000-square-foot warehouse, and that the first pallet was named “box1b,” the second “box2b” and so forth. Now, let’s say I were to put a unique RFID tag on each individual pallet, and that those 52 pallets were shuffled into existing rows of pallets. Would it be possible for me to have some type of reader or antenna that would direct me to box1b?
There are several ways in which you could do this. There are phased-array antennas systems that can be installed within a warehouse facility, for instance. These would tell you the locations of tagged pallets to within about 3 square meters (roughly 33 square feet). Another option would be to put tags in the floor and install a reader on the forklifts. One reader antenna would be installed under the forklift truck to read tags’ locations, while another would be pointed at the pallet being carried. Software would associate the tag in the floor with the tag on the pallet, so you would know that a specific pallet was dropped off at a specific location. Such a system, however, would not tell you the shelf on which a specific pallet was located.
You could add a video camera on the forklift truck and take an image of a shelf identifier, and then associate a specific shelf with the pallet, but I don’t know of an off-the-shelf system that would do this. It would be difficult to identify a location on a forklift truck where a camera could be installed that would not interfere with the forklift operations and would accurately read the shelf identifier.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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