Credit: Lenny Kuhne
With the global economy uncertain more than ever, supply chain businesses are increasingly concerned with improving the efficiency of their operations in order to – going forward – remain financially stable through the good times and the bad. They’re looking to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology to increase the visibility of their inventory and assets and, ultimately, operate their business more smoothly.
Barcode vs. RFID: The RFID advantage
RFID serves a dual purpose: it takes care of both inventory management and asset tracking. While barcode technology only allows supply chain businesses to track their inventory, RFID technology also allows them to track the movement of their forklifts, trucks, returnable transit items or any other valuable assets that come in and out of their facility – in real time. Barcodes require a clear line-of-sight to barcode scanners – and you can’t scan an item if you don’t know where it is!
Benefits of RFID Asset Tracking:
1. Increase asset visibility
Imagine being able to immediately locate everything you’ve ever misplaced or lost. Well with RFID technology, you can do just that. RFID asset tracking is essential because you cannot manage what you cannot see.
The most basic benefit of RFID asset tracking is the convenience and necessity of increased inventory and asset visibility. In other words, RFID tags can be read from anywhere in the facility so that employees will immediately know the location and amount of each item – and provide the status or whereabouts of a shipment that has already left your facility.
Increased visibility allows supply chain businesses to resolve the issues that result from poor organization, misplaced materials, oversight and mistakes made during manual processes. Not to mention, it allows you to make decisions on-the-fly or facilitate changes by quickly rerouting items.
2. Improve employee productivity
As mentioned, RFID technology does not require employees to be within the line of sight of an item or asset to locate it. They no longer have to waste time on labor-intensive processes like scanning individual barcodes, searching for misplaced tools or equipment or counting inventory amounts. This allows them to increase task speed and project turnover to reduce labor and carrying costs, as well as improve the facility’s overall productivity.
Not to mention, it’s extremely difficult and time-consuming to manufacture or ship products in an unorganized facility. The elimination of manual procedures, along with increased inventory and asset visibility, enables the elimination of human error and oversight – things that take significant time to fix.
3. Mitigate risk, theft and loss
With RFID asset tracking, supply chain facilities can gain quick and easy access to inventory information and location to keep track of when items are stored, distributed or replenished and confirm deliveries – no matter where they are in the supply chain.
This kind of visibility leaves little room for error or foul play. By tracking the movement of each asset in your facility, you can ensure that all items and pallets are accounted for to mitigate costly risks – reduce misdistribution and loss; combat counterfeiting and theft; and facilitate recalls. It is extremely important to avoid these mistakes when possible, because not only will they take time and money to fix, they could result in lawsuits, heavy fines or loss of a customer.
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Supply chain employees should never worry that a necessary tool or piece of equipment has gone missing, or worse, that items were distributed incorrectly or inadequately. With full visibility and real time information about your inventory and assets, your facility will be much more organized and productive – and therefore more profitable.
4. Track KPIs
RFID technology lets you track individual assets throughout your facility, allowing you to better measure key performance indicators. The benefits of RFID are not only that you can do inventory tasks that might have taken days in mere minutes, but also that it enables data collection and analysis at a level unreachable with manual entry methods. Get usage and location data to determine where there are bottlenecks and where you have excess assets.
With a greater amount of data at your disposal, you can begin to control aspects of your operation that were previously invisible to you. With detailed usage data, you can better manage the life cycles of your equipment. Improve asset performance and integrity with RFID in the supply chain.
5. Integrate with 3PL
More and more distributors are finding it expedient to rely on third party logistics (3PL) suppliers to transport products to retailers and consumers. With RFID in logistics, you can integrate your asset tracking into your 3PL supplier’s computer systems. This enables, among other things, for you and your customers to track item delivery.
In addition, this makes invoicing and billing much simpler to track. Update records across your enterprise by scanning with a simple mobile device. And again, among the advantages of RFID is that you don’t need to be in line of sight to get an accurate scan. Plus you can scan in batches, saving you time on the loading dock.
Credit: Hannes Egler
6. Update Financial Data
With RFID tracking, you can update your financial data in real time. No more guesswork or waiting until you close the books to track your business’s financial health. Instantly get calculations for unit cost, gross margin, and other important financial data points.
Because of the frequency of data collection enabled by RFID, you can better track changes to your financial position. RFID is an unparalleled solution for a busy manufacturer or distributor on a budget.
The Benefits of RFID
RFID in the supply chain boosts productivity and increases visibility. No more errors from manual entry. No more unaccounted for inventory because its out of sight. No more missing parts and equipment.
Lowry Solutions has been deploying RFID solutions for 20 years. Over 10,000 companies trust Lowry for inventory and asset tracking. Our technology-agnostic approach will ensure that you get the best solution to match your unique operation.
Ready to get started with an RFID system? Contact us today to get started.