RFID Solutions & Applications
RFID for Asset Tracking and Inventory Management for Warehousing and Retail
Although many companies are now using sophisticated Warehouse Management Systems integrated with Supply Chain Systems, Enterprise Systems, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the movement and tracking of goods through the manufacturing and supply chain process is still a complex procedure which is difficult to manage. In many instances, the goods being distributed to the retailer must go through one or more third party distribution processes, before they reach their final destination.
Currently, most material tracking systems employ two-dimensional barcodes that must be close to and within the "line of sight" of the barcode reader. This requires manual scanning or a conveyor-like process to position the barcode and scanner. Barcodes can run the risk of getting wet or scratched due to mishandling or a harsh environment, which often prevents accurate reading by the scanner. Manual intervention is labor intensive, costly, and error-prone. In addition, scheduled scanning or manual methods cannot ensure the inventory remains up-to-date due to oversights, errors and internal shrinkage.
Using GAO RFID's solution, inventory can be updated in real time without product movement, scanning or human involvement. Our fully automated system allows inventory status to be determined and shipping & receiving documents to be generated automatically. The system can also trigger automatic orders for products that are low in inventory.
Benefits of using GAO RFID Systems include: total asset visibility, full inventory history, reduced inventory-stocking levels, facilitating Just-in-Time deliveries, full process control for products in the facility, reduced lead-time and cross docking time, improved sort/pick rate, reduction is storage and shelf space, improved security, reduced errors and overall reduced cost of operations.
As in many other RFID solutions, there are primarily two different approaches to Warehouse Inventory Management; one, using passive RFID tags or transponders, and the other, active tags. Passive tag have no power source; however when a reader sends a single a magnetic coil inside the RFID tag is "powered" allowing the tag to transmit its information. Active tags, on the other hand are battery powered and are able to transmit data directly to an RFID reader or interrogaer. A variety of factors will impact the decision to utilize a specific tag type including environmental conditions, application, required read accuracy.
The full solution for the Inventory tracking application will contain three main RFID components: RFID Tags or transponders, RFID Readers interrogators, and software to collect and manage the RFID data.
The two diagrams below illustrate typical examples of asset tracking on the warehouse floor and the differences using using passive RFID and active RFID.
Passive RFID gives an organization the ability to recognize and record when an RFID tag is in the proximity of an RFID reader's antenna. Antennas can be installed wherever an organization wants to record the presence of an RFID tag. Antennas can be installed anywhere in a facility and quite often are since no two organizations' requirements are the same. Typically RFID antennas are installed at what we refer to as 'choke points' such as a doorway.
Passive RFID tracking or monitoring can deployed to track incoming and outbound pallets, cases and shipments. Inbound shipments may already have RFID transponders. Some organizations may introduce RFID tags at the point of receiving, the same time a warehouse license plate is attached. Put-away equipment such as forklift trucks can be equipped with wireless computers and RFID readers. When goods are put-away the floor or rack location can be automatically captured for future retrieval. All shipped goods are automatically recorded during the loading process. Reader portals at shipping doors automatically record the RFID tags associated with each shipment.
LocateWare software is use to relate the location with the tag id and a time stamp. The last appearance of a particular tag is used to locate all put-away inventories. RFID readers are mapped within a facility identifying specific locations. LocateWare stores and reports the date and time a specific reader has interrogated a specific tag. Reports can be generated to report the last known location of a specific tag as well as the history of all tag movements.
Active RFID provides constant visibility of inventory by using active RFID tags or transponders. Active RFID readers or interrogators are actually listeners. Active RFID readers are placed in areas or zones wherever inventory needs to be monitored and tracked. Active RFID tags beacon. There are different types of active tags. Some active tags can be set to periodically beacon while other tags will periodically beacon as well as beacon on movement. Alarms can be generated for unauthorized movement of tags at specified times. For inventory counts, tags can automatically wake up and report their presence on a periodic basis. If a tag misses its scheduled check-in time, an alarm can be generated.
LocateWare for warehouse and supply chain is an application specifically designed for RFID implementations. This host-based software runs on a standard Windows OS (ME, 2000, or XP) based PC and is tightly integrated with active readers. A wireless connection between the active RFID reader and host computer saves installation labor and time.