OpScoop Issue 8: RFID in Warehousing

RFID is generating massive amounts of data and creating real efficiencies in the warehouses of today.  In passive systems, which are the most common, an RFID reader transmits an energy field that “wakes up” the tag and provides the power for the tag to respond to the reader. Data collected from tags is then passed through communication interfaces (wireless or cable) to host computer systems for interpretation, storage, and action. Major application of RFIDs in Warehousing includes Mass Encoding and Aggregation. 

Even five years ago, encoding large numbers of tags on a high speed conveyance line was next to impossible (RFID tags generally come from the manufacturer without unique IDs and need to be encoded with data before they can be used). However, with the improved sensitivity of today’s RFID tags, hundreds of individual item tags inside a carton can be programmed instantly as it moves past the reader in antenna, even on a conveyor moving at 500 to 600 feet per minute or faster. What’s more?  The system knows the type and quantity of items which are to be within each container so that if a stray item is included or missing, the container can be sent off to the rejection shoot. Many apparel manufacturers have established their own serial number methodologies, so the encoding of tags quickly has become a critical piece of retail supply chain which is now driven by tagging at item level.

Another unique application of RFID is Aggregation. It is the means by which several tags are associated to a single tag. When a series of tags are aggregated to a single tag, this series of tags are known as child tags while the single tag is known as a parent tag . Upon reading a parent tag at any given RFID Checkpoint, all of its associated child tags are deemed to have also been read at that checkpoint .The core benefits of aggregation is that there is no need to read every tag, when large populations of tags pass through a single checkpoint, by reading the parent tag you are in essence reading all of its child tags. When doing inventory cycle counts of goods, be it with handheld scanners or with a mobile text reader configuration, the warehouse team doesn’t have to read every item level tag to reconcile to every item in a case, and further, don’t have to read every case level tag to reconcile every case in a pallet. 
Warehouse is the backbone of every business, and RFID with its distinctive solutions is revolutionizing Warehousing and enabling businesses to increase inventory accuracy, reduce labor costs and improve customer satisfaction.

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