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How RFID Works

There are many applications for RFID within the supply chain operations of today’s companies. Most of these applications require item management information for tracking goods from the component level, through manufacturing and on throughout the supply chain. RFID provides more accurate data than traditional systems or bar codes, driving business process change that enables companies to gain efficiencies and reduce costs.

With today’s market attitude of "I want it now" or "I need it now," the demand for improved supply chain visibility as well as the pressure to keep costs down is driving the need for a combination of bar code and RFID system in today’s businesses.

The following is a general example of how RFID could provide full visibility through a company’s supply chain:

An RFID tag is embedded in a component item. The item tag can then be read and written to during the manufacturing process in order to gather and exchange Work-in-Process data. That same tag could then be read or written to by shipping personnel at the manufacturer’s shipping dock to release the original manufacturer’s item from their inventory. Shipping information could then be written to the item tag by the transportation carrier as its transported from the manufacturing plant. That item could now be on its way to the end user, the next add on manufacturing site, or distribution center with complete item, source, process, and ultimate destination information included. Upon arrival at any of these locations the item tracking information could be read automatically with a fixed or portable RFID interrogator.

Finally, that same individual item tag could be read and written to at the retail store level, providing the retailer with additional pricing, receipt date, inventory, and theft prevention information. The following list includes Supply Chain applications where Intermec RFID solutions are being used today:

Logistics: Item management for manufacturing

  • Raw materials
  • WIP tracking
  • Bulk containers
  • Pallets/boxes
  • Totes
  • Finished goods

Retail: Item management plus EAS/POS

  • Embedded price tags and labels
  • Track items from dock door to counter
  • Smart electronic article surveillance (EAS)
  • Automatic inventory control

Transportation Management

  • Electronic toll collection
  • Parking collection
  • Traffic management
  • Access control

Industrial: Warehouse Shipping/Receiving Validation

  • Shipping and receiving
  • Dock management
  • Floor inventory control
  • Sorting