Here’s How to Implement RFID in Your Company’s Shipping and Logistics

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Image source: | Here’s How to Implement RFID in Your Company’s Shipping and Logistics | Does your company rely on the supply chain to receive or deliver materials or products? Of course it does — what company doesn’t? And if you’re still depending on barcodes to track shipments and inventory, it’s time for an upgrade.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology allows for the transfer of data using radio frequency electromagnetic fields. RFID tags can store considerable data about a shipment, including invoice information, bill of lading information, and more. These inert tags quickly and instantaneously transmit their stored data when activated by a proximate RFID reader. You don’t need to get the reader up close to the tags or aim it in a specific orientation, like you do with barcodes — RFID readers can capture the data from the tags at a distance, and with minimal fuss. Many logistics warehouses place RFID readers near the loading bays so that they can automatically detect and inventory shipments as they arrive — no more need to painstakingly unload an entire shipping container or truck and scan in all the barcodes by hand. Instead, all that info is transmitted to the RFID reader immediately upon arrival.

RFID tracking is much faster and more efficient than barcode tracking, and it offers far more potential for automation. All of this can spell reduced costs. But what’s the best way to implement RFID tracking in your company? First, consider whether it can help you improve an area of your logistics where efficiency, speed, and accuracy are lagging. Consult with everyone involved as you begin implementing RFID, and keep lines of communication open as you lead your organization through this change.

Isolate Your Problem Areas

If you’re making the switch from manual barcode tracking to RFID tracking, it’s best to first evaluate your company’s needs and get a sense of the problem areas where RFID technology can really streamline and improve your operations. For example, maybe you’re struggling with low stock and asset visibility, making it hard to avoid stock-outs or satisfy customer demand. Maybe checking inventory into the warehouse manually is time-consuming and labor-intensive, only to find that locating items in inventory when it’s time to pick and pack is also tedious.

Implementing RFID tracking technologies offers a range of opportunities to improve timing, accuracy, and speed in your shipping and logistics operations, and it can also provide opportunities to track the location of shipments, monitor shipping conditions. It can be used in retail to keep track of stock and prevent stock shortages, which increases customer satisfaction and boosts sales. Airlines can use it to keep track of passenger luggage and improve readiness for flights by tracking meal carts, life vests, and other supplies. RFID technology is used in winemaking to guarantee that batches of wine don’t get mixed up and that bad batches are removed from processing. It can be used in manufacturing to track inventory through production, shipping, and delivery. The applications are practically endless, and that’s why you might need help from the whole team to brainstorm the many ways you can use RFID tracking to improve your operations.

Talk to Your Team

RFID tracking solutions could be useful in more than one area of your business, so it’s important that you talk to your supply chain teams, including procurement, shipping, and logistics, as well as your store operations teams, sales and marketing teams, and ecommerce teams. RFID solutions may have different applications in all these different areas of your organization. Brainstorm together to decide how and where RFID solutions can improve your operations, and how to best implement them in each area.

Of course, you have to keep the lines of communication open as you guide your organization through the RFID implementation. Careful change management will be necessary to foster total adoption of the new system. Educating your employees on what RFID is, how it works, and how it benefits your business can go a long way towards breaking through the reticence that often keeps people from adopting new tools and techniques.

RFID tracking could be the answer to many — even all — of your company’s shipping and logistics woes. It’s certainly a great way to streamline and improve operations, and even cut costs without sacrificing performance. Start your RFID implementation now, and you’ll soon see why more and more logistics professionals are singing the technology’s praises.

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