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RFID for intralogistics – what actually is RFID and what are the benefits for me in logistics?

The benefits of RFID in intralogistics - some simple examples of the use cases.

Author of the article: Lars Lappe, Sales Manager, Nordic ID

 

I'm often asked, what is RFID, how does it work and what is the benefit of RFID?

Basically RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a simple thing. The applications, however are almost unlimited. Therefore the easiest way to describe the benefit of RFID is to concentrate on the specific use case. In this case, the field of logistics. And to be more focused I'm concentrating on the area of intralogistics.

RFID supports the delivery and collection of information related to an object. An object could be e.g. a product, a package or a pallet. But also a fork lift, a truck, an order picking trolley or even a person.

In intralogistics RFID is mainly about

  • Identification: What kind of an object it is and is this object known or not? And what variant of an object is in question.
  • Inventory: What do we have in stock?
  • Locating: Where is the object at the moment?
  • Tracking: To where is the object moving to at the moment or where was it moveing in the past?
  • Condition of the object: What environmental influences affected the object (e.g. temperature, pressure)

RFID gives us the opportunity to get above information from a distance without having visual contact to the object and store it in a centralized database to support Industry 4.0. What is the benefit of that?

For a better understanding below there are some examples:

  • The possibility to get the information which products do I have on the pallet or which products I'm currently packing to the pallet, speeds up the process of goods-in/goods-out and reduces sources of errors - even if the products are in cartons and in outer packings. I'm also able to get information about the product variant and the condition up to the level of a serial number without needing to touch the products.
  • It's easy to locate a product, a package or object and also to get information about the location very quickly.
  • The movement of products or objects is documented electronically so it's easy to monitor to which way the products and objects are moving. For instance I'm able to prevent that the goods will not be dropped off at a wrong storage area.
  • I'll get the information about the environmental influences that affected my products.
  • I can make sure that all the right products are packed for the delivery.
  • The accurate stock inventory is easily done.
  • Easy and fast identification at the gates of subarea. For instance a truck is clearly identified with RFID and the access will be either permitted or denied. And there is no need to step out of the truck or to show a keycard in front of a terminal. RFID is more secure than a visual license plate recognition.

These are only some examples and the list can be endless.

RFID is using a radio technology. Basically every object is equipped with a transponder or tag. A transponder or tag is a small computer chip connected to an antenna. This transponder contains the information of an object and transmit this information to an RFID reader on demand.

As with any kind of technology there are some technical restrictions involved. Therefore the implementation of RFID is always a project, where you have to analyse your processes and to evaluate the technical possibilities.

If you wish RFID gives the opportunity to first start with smaller projects and gradually expand to other areas of use. So no need to start a huge RFID strategy project at once.

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