RFID emerging technology for management efficiency
Jun 1, 2007 12:00 PM
RADIO FREQUENCY identification (RFID) is an emerging technology that has a high cost, but may be what some warehouse operations are looking for. It is one of several technology tools that can improve efficiency, said Marshall Huffman of SystemID.
The RFID tool used for automatic data collection complements barcode technology, but does not replace it, Huffman said at the Dairy Distribution and Fleet Management Conference March 28-31 in San Antonio, Texas.
He pointed out that Wal-Mart Stores Inc wants all of its 10,000 suppliers to implement RFID. “This will eventually be huge and will roll into the whole supply chain,” Huffman said.
With the use of the equipment, receiving and loading time can be reduced by as much as 80%, he said.
RFID uses three primary tag types: passive, active, and semi-active. Passive tags rely heavily on the magnetic field of radio waves to generate current that can be received by their antenna. This is the most common tag type. Active RFID Tags use a battery to energize the RFID chip while in semi-active tags the battery is used to run the microchip's circuitry but not to communicate with the reader. Some semi-active tags sleep until they are awakened by a signal from the reader, thereby conserving battery life.
Labels used with the technology are divided into classes: Class O (symbol), Class 1 (alien), and Class 1, Generation 2. Class O has read-only capability, tags factory programmed, and supports electronic product code (EPC) global standard. Class 1 can write only once, but can be read many times afterward, and also supports the EPC standard. Class 1, Generation 2 has full read/write capability and supports the EPC standard.
RFID readers emit a radio frequency signal to communicate with tags and are designed in two primary types, one that is stationary (portal) and the other that is handheld.
Huffman also discussed PINC Solution's Yard Hound that provides information on trailer, yard trucks, and other asset locations. Managers can log in to the program to view past and current activity. The program documents all trailers coming in and out of the yard. It can track truck idle time, actions, speed, and distance traveled, as well as identifying individual drivers.
The data can be used to evaluate utilization of docks and includes a program for monitoring trailer temperatures.
Another product, Field Mobility from Dexterra, coordinates work orders, client service history, signature capture, credit card processing, asset management, and mobile inventory.
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