In the warehousing industry, anything that facilitates the organization and management of your inventory is a huge advantage. Technology like RFID has come a long way since the pen-and-paper days, but maintaining an accurate and up-to-date picture of your entire operation is still challenging.
Remember, we have millions of square feet of storage to keep tabs on. Luckily, RFID technology has entered the scene. With its power to decrease human error and streamline warehouse operations, it has become one of the most important implementations in the supply chain manager’s toolbox.
What is RFID?
RFID stands for radio frequency identification. It’s a form of wireless technology that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data. Today, this technology is found in a wide variety of industries and is used to monitor everything from your family pet to your passport.
With its ability to track and identify in real-time, it’s no surprise that RFID technology has become an invaluable tool for warehouse management and inventory control.
How it works
A shipment arrives. An RFID tag (or chip) is attached to the items in that shipment – either to individual boxes or an entire pallet. Each tag features an internal memory to store the item’s information, which is modifiable as it moves through different processes in the warehouse.
Using an electromagnetic signal, the RFID tag transmits that information to a central database where a warehouse management system analyzes the data.
Why not barcodes?
Unlike barcodes, RFID tags don’t require a reader that’s in the same line of sight. Not only does this eliminate the need for someone to manually scan each box, but it also means that an item can be scanned and cataloged even when it’s hidden behind other goods.
- Accuracy: RFID tags transmit data on their own. Therefore, human error is largely eliminated from the inventory process.
- Immediacy: Warehouse management software is updated in real-time, which means we know where an item is from the time it arrives on the dock, to the time it leaves the warehouse.
- Efficiency: RFID technology boosts efficiency in 2 ways: 1. by automating processes that used to involve human intervention and, 2. by streamlining those that still do. For instance, RFID-tagged items communicate with warehouse software and automatically document their own arrival and exit from the warehouse. And for services that require a human touch, like pick-and-pack, employees save countless hours using RFID readers to immediately determine the exact location of any item.
Overall, the integration of RFID technology with sophisticated warehouse management systems lowers operating costs and increases the speed and accuracy that we’re able to promise our customers every day.
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