What Are the Benefits of RFID in Logistics?
By Milton Kazmeyer
RFID, or Radio-Frequency Identification, is a method of storing data and retrieving it via radio waves. Much in the same way a barcode can store information about a type of product, RFID tags contain unique identifiers that correspond to inventory database records. Switching to RFID in your logistics chain offers some significant advantages over traditional inventory control methods.
One of the major advantages of RFID in logistics is how quickly RFID tags can provide information compared to barcoding or other systems. With a barcode, you have to pass each code over a scanner to register the item. RFID works wirelessly, so you can point a scanner at a box of items and register each one without having to take them out first. A powerful enough RFID scanner could inventory entire rooms at once, making inventory tracking a much faster process.
RFID tags contain a microchip or other storage device that can contain a large amount of information. This allows you to place individual identifiers on products, rather than using a single barcode for an entire class of items, and to follow individual items through your logistics chain, instead of needing to extrapolate that data from inventory numbers. This also allows you to track a defective item back to its source in a much easier manner than with other tracking methods.
Because scanning and inventory control is much faster with RFID than with other forms of management, the system lends itself to integration with wireless communication systems and real-time inventory management systems. This allows you to query the database at any time and find out exactly how much of a given product you have on hand, instead of getting numbers that may be days or weeks old. RFID scanners built into the entrances of warehouses can even scan crates as they enter and leave, providing instant updates of inventory totals that can propagate to other users across the company network.
Integration With Other Systems
The same RFID tags that provide inventory information can also provide other services as well. Security scanners at building exits can let your system know instantly when any product leaves the premises, allowing you to spot theft or misdirected shipments quickly and correct the problem. Likewise, scanning RFID tags at entry and exit points allows confirmation of shipping and delivery of goods, allowing you to trace a shipment as it moves through your logistics chain, and provide accurate estimates of arrival to customers or other business units.
Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.