RFID tags will improve efficiency and visibility in your Warehouse.
RFID (radio frequency identification) is an efficient way to transfer data and track items. An RFID system is composed of tags or labels, printers, and readers (handheld or fixed). RFID is becoming more and more popular in many industries for a variety of applications. The key to deploying RFID tags and Warehouse Software successfully is to first identify your biggest pain points and then choose the most cost effective option to help eliminate them.
Warehouses are the backbone of every business. In order to improve productivity and control, warehouses are using more and more radio frequency identification – RFID tags for day to day operations. This wireless technology increases efficiency of warehouse management as, unlike bar codes which must be scanned manually to feed in the information on the computers, RF tags broadcast a signal with information about the product they are attached to and about the location of the product in the warehouse. An RFID Warehouse Software solution provides an interesting option to complement data collection and product identification in the supply chain management and warehouse operation.
There are two types of RFID systems-active and passive.
Passive RFID tags do not have transmitters and simply reflect back radio waves that originate at the reader antenna.
Active system RFID transponders (a microchip with an antenna) are placed on products then information is accessed using a reader to pass the information to a computer. Active RFID tags are typically used for large assets including cargo containers, rail cars and containers that are transported over long distances.
Passive RFID tags lack power sources and transmitter, require no maintenance and are less expensive than active RFID tags.
In tracking products throughout the supply chain, often active and passive RFID systems are combined to provide gain visibility where products are in real time. Used with GPS technology, goods can now be tracked while in transit. This can be especially useful in helping to reduce theft as products travel across the supply chain.
A wireless warehouse, that uses RFID Warehouse Software technology, works by linking warehouse workers to the backend warehouse management application server where warehouse activities are being recorded via wireless handheld devices, scanning bar codes or RF tags attached to the pallets. These devices help employees to identify where to pick, put away, count, or move products within the plant. This translates to a better control over the movement and storage of materials within the warehouse by maximising the efficiency of the receipt and shipment of goods, optimising warehouse space utilisation and knowing at all times exactly where goods are stored, allowing employees to improve and maintain high customer service levels.
You may wonder, why is RFID becoming so popular in warehouses? What are the benefits? What can RFID do that a standard barcode system cannot?
Here are the top 5 reasons why RFID should be used in warehouses:
- Tags do not have to be seen in order to read data. This means that tracking products or people can happen from anywhere in a specified range which maximises speed and efficiency.
- RFID tags can store up to 100 times the data of barcodes, allowing you to keep track of all the data you need for your inventory such as lot and serial number, size, manufacturer, vendor, expiration date, user, location on production line and anything else you might want to know.
- Readers can read up to 200 tags at once. This will increase speed and productivity since employees will not need to physically scan each label.
- The position of each tag is flexible (as long as they are not blocked by metal or water) since the tag doesn’t need to be physically seen by the reader. For example, you can place tags in boxes or within a pallet.
- RFID technology is functional inside and outside the warehouse. The technology has the capacity to withstand harsh environments and temperatures, even the tags!
WMS’s barcode data collection system runs on many popular portable data collection terminal and wireless networks providing enhanced RFID warehouse tracking. These devices support bar code and RFID reading, voice, mobile computing and wireless networking. The PDT/PDA applications use the latest operating system including Windows Mobile, CE and Pocket PC for information anytime anywhere.
But… there are some challenges ahead that should be highlighted.
IT Managers will have to:
- Examine operational flows to find efficient ways for implementing wireless technology in supply chain and warehouse management
- Prepare the facility in order to make the move to wireless warehouse technology. For example, consider things like racking and aisle placement, bin ranking and numbering (for primary and secondary storage areas), and labelling the bins with barcode labels
- Ensure that the warehouse is properly equipped with RF access points, antennas, and update the product information in computer software
- Align the warehouse software for interfacing with primary business software
- Procure (after considering different options) equipment’s such as RF/barcodes scanners, portable as well as heavy duty printers, and the appropriate type of labels.
However, RFID Warehouse Software brings several benefits that can eliminate current drawbacks with the help of advanced scanning that improves supply chain visibility and agility for greater operational efficiency. Capabilities include:
- Improved efficiency by using RF tags that facilitate automatic data entry rather than manually making entries of stock first on paper and then into computer terminals. This eliminates the time required for data entry, sending paper order to the warehouse and filling and maintaining the paperwork.
- Wireless warehouse can provide timely information and integration of warehouse data into the ERP system. Integration of warehouse information and ERP system
- Ensures timely and accurate information for invoicing, purchase order payments and inventory tracking.
- Reduces inventory errors, ensuring that the inventory reported is indeed available. By tracking pieces more exactly, companies can more accurately detail what has sold in the last business day, and improve the accuracy of their forecasts about what inventory is actually needed.
- Strengthen security against product theft, loss and counterfeiting
The main purpose of using RFID Warehouse Software is to increase warehouse efficiency by reducing labour and logistic costs that are otherwise skyrocketing and provides ever increasing pressure on profit margins in today’s competitive environment.
A warehouse management system (WMS) based on RFID can collect, transfer, check, and update mass data on daily frequent goods entry and delivery, thus the labour intensity will be decreased, errors like fault scanning, miss scanning, re-scanning in the repeating manual operations can also be avoided. It improves the efficiency and accuracy. With development of the RFID technology, reduction of costs, gradual unification of the standards, decrease of the error rate, the effective combination of WMS and RFID tags will become one of the key factors to improve the competitive power of enterprises and the efficiency of the supply chain.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.