Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies are being introduced into manufacturing control systems at a very high speed. Following the World-leading companies, more and more USA businesses announce the beginning of the transition to the logistics management systems using RFID. So let’s take a closer look at the important features of the technology, how it is used in manufacturing, why do we need it and what does it consist of.
What is RFID and how is it used in the manufacturing process
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) represents electromagnetic fields to automatically spot and monitor tags that are joined to an object and used to monitor and supervise inventory, assets, people, etc. For example, it can be affixed to vehicles, computer equipment, books, electronic devices, and others.
The three main components of an RFID system are:
- Microscopic radio frequency tags (transponders);
- Reader — tag reader;
- Data processing system.
All components of the system unite into a single mechanism for automation in the manufacturing process. The label is fixed on the product, its unique identification number, and all information about this product are added to the database:
- One of the first things to understand while implementing the RFID technology is whether to use active or passive RFID tags. Passive tags are usually smaller than active and can physically fit on a smaller surface area;
- There are many antenna types, but mainly they fit in two main categories, circular and linear, depending on the polarization of the signal;
- You need to define how far will your reader be from the tags it is going to read;
- You need to understand how well can you manage the orientation and position of the tags;
- RFID is convenient in use, as it’s almost impossible to fake tags, like copying a key. Each device is unique.
The use of RFID technology in highly used in the manufacturing process as it offers many advantages. RFID allows for better monitoring of products, more accurate status of WIP, less manufacturing mistakes, and a better quality product. Textile and clothing, automotive, pharmaceutical, machinery, and spare parts manufacturers, all these industries are benefiting from implementing RFID technology in their manufacturing processes as well as other business processes.
What are the benefits of RFID implementation?
RFID implementation brings many indisputable benefits to the manufacturing industry, the most important of them is improving the competitiveness of the whole process by:
- increasing production flexibility;
- cost reduction;
- detailed planning and modeling of production processes.
The manufacturing process becomes a single mechanism with all the stages becoming transparent and controlled. With the use of RFID technology, the speed of obtaining and reliability of information increases, the number of mistakes (as the human factor in manual data entry) decreases throughout the whole manufacturing chain. If the monitoring of object movement is carried out automatically, it leads to optimization of the time and labor costs, starting from the moment of getting the materials and ending with the delivery of ready products.
Our experience in RFID technology implementation
In our practice, we have successful examples of how the RFID technology worked and was fortunately used by our clients. Here we will share some of them:
- We had to apply the RFID plugin within WMS implementation for customers in the US. The main objective was to simplify physical count within the storage warehouse, where it was difficult to get to the pallet label of the inventory within the bin and to implement a seamless recording of the inventory being transferred from Storage to Production warehouse. That’s where we had to use the RFID technology to achieve the main goals. On the hardware side, RFID Gate was custom-fabricated with reflective antennas enclosed in the metal, energy amplifying sidewall structures, Red/Green semaphore, and motion sensor. Hardware was specced, custom fabricated in the local factory, and installed on-site.
- The other project was completed for the popular Nordic Shirt Store that we helped with RFID technology implementation. This company reached us with a problem — controlling the residual products available in company stores and in the central stock. We proposed introducing RFID tags for products. This greatly simplified the work with balances. We purchased Nedap’s RFID Handheld Readers !D and connected them to the iOS-based smartphones. Now, the store employees can easily control the physical balances in just a couple of minutes.
Some tips for those who want to implement RFID
To implement a system that works well, many aspects must be taken into consideration like:
- Determine what tasks you want to solve in all possible details. The timing and cost of the entire project will entirely depend on this. Of course, you can hire an implementing company and say “We want RFID.” Then the contractor will analyze your business processes in atoms and offer you the implementation options. In this way, you will pay for his time. But it’s better to do it on your own and spend this money, for example, on software development.
- We advise you to divide the tasks into stages and implement them in order of importance. After the implementation of the first stage, you can make changes to the next one — at the planning stage. This can again save time and development costs.
- After you have an understanding of the problem that you want to solve and what needs to be changed in business processes, you can contact the implementing company or estimate the cost of implementation by yourself. And then evaluate the return on your investments. After that, it’s time to make the final decision — to implement RFID technology or not.
- If you decide to implement RFID technology in your business, remember that the biggest risk is not to complete the implementation process.
RFID systems now can simplify a lot of different operations, automate processes, minimize unauthorized access to premises. As a result, we can confidently conclude that RFID technology in manufacturing is a powerful and effective way of modernization, and a way to improve the quality of the entire business enterprise.
If you have additional questions about RFID or you have similar requests, feel free to contact us!