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Harnessing the power of RFID to improve visibility from manufacturing to retail store

Articles | By Zebra Technologies | 19 December 2016
Today’s RFID technology, especially item-level RFID, helps increase the in-store productivity by simultaneously acting as sales channel and fulfillment center. Today’s RFID technology, especially item-level RFID, helps increase the in-store productivity by simultaneously acting as sales channel and fulfillment center. Photo: Zebra Technologies

Tracking Technology Tailored for Businesses

Daniel Dombach is the EMEA Director for Industry Solutions at Zebra Technologies, with a strong personal focus on Transportation & Logistics, Supply Chain, and Manufacturing. Previously responsible for Motorola Industry Solutions in the EMEA region, he moved on to Zebra Technologies following the company’s acquisition of Motorola Solutions Enterprise Business. His responsibilities include the Business Development of mobile solutions for all industry areas in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Based on his extensive market expertise, he delivers important impulses for the development of business segments and products as well as successful cooperation with customers and partners.

Written by Daniel Dombach, Director EMEA Industry Solutions, Zebra Technologies

RFID is a relatively mature technology, having been on the market for a while now, and is set to pick up speed. The technology, which is most frequently used for track and trace, is becoming increasingly important for manufacturers and retailers as demand for individualised products rises. Because of the demand for bespoke and personalised products, such as cars, mobile phones, etc, the production line and the way products come off them is greatly impacted. Now, those running production process and logistics need a nifty identification system to work through new steps and quickly meet modern demands.

While we have not yet seen RFID go mainstream with entire supply chains using the technology, there is a general acceptance and understanding of the value proposition. The most prominent use of RFID technology is to identify physical assets such as tools, pallets, etc.

Smarter Tool and Product Tracking

The logistics and manufacturing industries in particular need consistent and often urgent tracking of products or tools and this can only be done through swift efficient tools to identify these physical assets. It is only a matter of time before everyone in the industry is harnessing RFID technology to drive efficiency on a mass scale.

The price of RFID chips is falling. The long-term cost is still substantial but by no means prohibitive. It may seem a significant investment at first glance. As the quality, speed, and security of RFID technology increases, this may well be mirrored in cost. However, can businesses really afford not to invest in technology that can increase efficiency and reliability? Looking at the direction in which supply chains move, this seems unlikely.

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Item-Level RFID tagging

The combination of shipping and receiving at warehouses, as well as the putting away and picking of inventory, makes warehouses an ideal place to introduce item-level RFID tagging. Distribution center management can significantly reduce the amount of travel time lost in the picking and putting away of inventory, as well as dramatically improve the accuracy of inventory counts, order fulfillment, shipping, order delivery, and the verification and proof of delivery.

Businesses use item-level tagging to have accurate, near-real-time intelligence regarding inventory records, and to know where items are in a facility at all times. RFID provides the intelligence necessary to maintain a smaller safety stock which equates to reductions in holding costs and greater efficiency in the distribution center and warehouses.

Item-level RFID extends electronic proof of delivery beyond an item-specific confirmation to something that can reduce costs associated with shortage disputes, write-downs, and labor. The granular detail of item-level proof of delivery can also significantly reduce the number of shortage disputes. Due to this increased order accuracy, invoices can enter procurement payment processes faster at the retailer.

RFID helps to track shipments automatically

While order accuracy and fill rates improve, they also add an instant verification that the right items are picked and loaded for shipment. Order accuracy is essential as claims and returns are costly to process and settle. In addition, as transportation costs rise, item-level RFID helps businesses automatically track shipments to ensure they are transported cost-effectively to their proper destination.

Adjust the traditional Business Model to be ready for e-commerce

Moving along the supply chain, consider the impact of RFID technology on the retail business. The triumph of e-commerce has fundamentally changed shopping: connected customers are no longer limited to the opening hours of a store. They can buy almost any product online via their desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device whenever they want to, wherever they are. Retailers will have to adjust their traditional business model in order to cope with their new and expanded role in the omnichannel universe. The retail storefront will remain an important touchpoint. In addition, however, the store now has to act as a shipping and fulfillment center.

The key to success is enhanced inventory visibility and control. Omnichannel retailers understand that being able to allocate items and fulfill orders from inventory located in any part of the supply chain is more efficient, more cost effective, and more likely to result in faster fulfillment and an enhanced customer experience. Virtually all retailers agree that the key to accurate inventory management is technology, notably RFID.

This article was published in the "Company & Application Guide 2016 RFID | NFC | Smart Cards". Download your own copy for free and continue reading at page 100.

Last modified on Monday, 19 December 2016 10:37
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Sven Biermann

Regional Sales Director - Printing & Scanning D/A/CH
Zebra Technologies

Phone: (+49) 211-601606 0

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