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What’s Keeping You from Implementing RFID? Part 2

A GAP Marketing Research Survey conducted in March 2013 assessed the understanding and use of RFID in the manufacturing sector and how it contrasts with barcode technologies. The study’s sample was taken across all manufacturing industries, spanning many roles from staff to executive.

In Part 1 of this blog, we discussed the first two conclusions of the study — “RFID is not as well understood or as utilized as barcode technology” and “Knowledge and perceived expense of RFID are primary obstacles to adoption” — and how they relate to one another.

Now we will focus on the third and fourth conclusions:

  • RFID has a unique value proposition when compared to barcode technology.
  • Tracking of materials from raw goods, through work-in-process (WIP) and on to finished and shipped goods, is viewed as the most popular area of use/need.

When asked about the primary benefits that RFID adoption can provide, respondents noted its (in order of rank) accuracy, ability to read from a distance, ability to read without visual contact, speed, and labor savings. There appears to be a dichotomy among those who were surveyed: many had minimal knowledge or understanding of RFID, and quite a few were aware of the benefits of RFID technology, as well as its value when compared to barcode technology.

So, despite the general lack of understanding and perceived expense of RFID technology, it is still seen as “a valuable proposition when compared to barcode technology.”  Although 17% of those surveyed said they had no budget for RFID, 18% said it was too expensive, and 13% believed there to be no perceived need, RFID definitely has benefits that lead to a more productive and profitable workplace.

RFIDOne factor to consider here is that the majority of people surveyed worked at businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Smaller companies might not be willing to risk the investment, especially if they have no glaring problems. Also, the survey was issued to a wide range of employees — from C-level to staff. Those who are not decision makers might not be the best employees to ask about RFID implementation.

RFID is definitely an investment, but the benefits it provides will almost certainly outweigh the short-term expenses. The survey outlined a few of the reasons why RFID has not overtaken barcode technology, but it also made note of the biggest issues companies are facing.

The fourth conclusion states that respondents’ top issue is work-in-process (WIP) tracking. The time required to execute physical inventories or search for materials were also problems, as were errors in shipment, delivery, and receiving. Ideally, an RFID project would track the manufacturing process, from raw materials to finished goods and rework.

The main problems companies have to deal with can all be eliminated or minimized through the implementation of an RFID tracking system. The performance boost RFID provides will lead to bigger profits for businesses.

While there is still a long way to go before RFID technology reaches the popularity level barcode technology has attained, it is reassuring to see that people are beginning to understand the ways RFID can help their businesses.

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