RFID Solutions & Applications
GAO RFID active tags or transponders can be programmed with contents and assigned locations and then placed on containers and pallets that are stored in a warehouse. Additional information can be collected and added to the RFID tags or cards as the pallets move through the warehouse. The GAO RFID tracking system can identify unscheduled movement, so managers and security can be alerted to possible theft.
GAO RFID's automatic tracking system can identify and keep track of goods that are located anywhere in the warehouse or in any other part of the building where a GAO RFID reader is installed. The amount of idle inventory tied up in storage can be greatly reduced through effective use of the information provided by the system.
The GAO RFID system can also reduce theft and other forms of inventory shrinkage by immediately alerting the operations manager when a product is moved from its assigned area.
GAO RFID solutions can also reduce the time and cost for counting stock as it enters the warehouse by collecting the data automatically and virtually eliminating the need for manual intervention.
Benefits of using GAO RFID Systems include: tracking the location of pallets and containers within the warehouse, notify management and security when unscheduled movements occur and reduce costs and time for check-in and check-out as containers and pallets enter and leave the warehouse.
The main benefits of using RFID in the supply chain come from improved inventory tracking, especially when the technologys capabilities are used to collect information and provide visibility in environments where tracking was not done before. Manufacturers, distributors, logistics providers and retailers can each use RFID for inventory applications and, in carefully planned systems, may share the same tags to reduce implementation costs.
Because it can be read through packaging, without concern to orientation, without direct line of sight between object and reader and can withstand exposure to dirt, heat, moisture and contaminants that make bar codes unusable, RFID can remove blind spots from inventory and supply chain operations. By using the high accuracy, real-time and unattended monitoring capability of RFID to track raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods, inventory manufacturers can confidently improve visibility of their inventory to enable overall inventory levels, labor costs and safety stocks to be reduced.
RFID readers or interrogators, covering warehouse racks, shelves and other storage locations, will automatically record the removal of items and update inventory records. If an item is misplaced or needed urgently to complete an order, fixed-position readers or a worker with a mobile computer and RFID reader can automatically search for the item by reading for its specific ID number. To secure inventory from theft and diversion, readers can be set to sound alarms or send notification if items are placed in unauthorized areas of the facility or removed from storage without prior approval.
An Auto-ID Center study found consumer goods manufacturers would reduce shrink (inventory loss) by an estimated 10 percent by implementing secure storage areas. Direct store delivery (DSD) and other remote sales and service personnel can take advantage of RFID readers or interrogators integrated with mobile computers to quickly and accurately count inventory held in stores or in the vehicle. The automated counting would save significant time in the field, enabling representatives to visit more customers in a day. For field service applications, permanent asset tags applied to equipment could store its ID, configuration and service history information to ensure accurate and appropriate service is performed in the field where access to a central records database may be unavailable.
Warehouses and Distribution Centers (DC) are where everything comes together in the Supply Chain. Whether a product has been shipped half way around the world or manufactured in the same building, the DC is the hub of the distribution process for any successful supply chain network. Finished or work in process product or material can be misplaced, lost or become stale dated if processes are not in place to ensure prompt movement of product as required downstream. RFID is becoming a critical data collection tool to ensure product visibility is maintained through the warehouse link of the supply chain.
The full solution for the Inventory tracking application will contain three main RFID components: RFID Tags or cards, RFID Readers, 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 passive RFID and active RFID.
Passive RFID allows the tracking and recording of RFID Tagged inventory through proximity to an RFID reader. Readers can be installed almost anywhere in the warehouse where the tagged inventory is to be traced. Typically RFID readers are installed at choke points (a point the inventory must pass through) such as a doorway.
Passive RFID tracking 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. During the loading process, shipped goods are automatically recorded at the shipping doors by RFID readers
LocateWare software is use to relate the location of an item using a tag id and a time stamp. The last appearance of any particular RFID tag is used to locate stored inventory. RFID readers are mapped within a facility identifying specific locations. LocateWare stores and reports the date and time a specific reader has queried a specific RFID tag. Reports of last known location of a specific item through its tag as well as the history of all tag movements can be generated.
Active RFID tags or transponders provide constant visibility of inventory. Active RFID readers are actually listeners. These active RFID readers or interrogators can be placed in different areas or zones - wherever inventory needs to be monitored and tracked. The active RFID tags send out a beaconing signal. 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. For the later, alarms can be generated for unauthorized movement of tags at specified times. For inventory counts, tags can automatically wake up and report their whereabouts periodically. 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.