Applying RFID and geospatial technology to automate a supply chain | Automation.com

Applying RFID and geospatial technology to automate a supply chain

By Sal Austin, DGX

There are quite a few large corporations taking advantage of the recent advances in new technology to automate their supply chains but the number of corporations not taking advantage of this new technology greatly outweighs those who are.

The people positively affected by this new technology are corporations or property owners with a need to track expensive inventory during transportation anywhere in the world in real-time. The people negatively affected by this new technology are managers stuck in the old ways of doing things, employees with something to hide and thieves trying to steal the expensive inventory during transportation.

The objective of this article is to inform corporations of the latest advances in technology and how if applied properly they can save their organization time and money, prevent unnecessary losses and increase their efficiency.

What are RFID and Geospatial Technology and how can it automate a supply chain? RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and this technology enables data to be transmitted back and forth by a portable device, called a RF tag, which communicates with an RF reader using radio waves. The data transmitted by the tag provides identification and location information, and specifics about the product tagged, such as price, color, current temperature and date of purchase. A basic RFID System consists of a RF Tag, a RF Reader and a server with RFID enterprise software installed to download and decode the data from the readers for analysis.

Geospatial Technology is comprised of four technologies; Surveying, Remote Sensing, GPS and GIS, all four technologies are very useful but when applied together, they provide a powerful analysis tool. This analysis will answer questions like what Country, State, City or Street is my products currently in. Can we save on traveling fee's if the Transportation Company or driver took a different faster route? Is it more cost effective to outsource delivery of the products or keep the deliveries in house? Are there any scheduled construction occurring on one of your delivery routes causing delays?

Other important benefits include: If the delivery truck or products inside of the truck is stolen in transit, one can easily provide the exact whereabouts to the local authorities to track down and return the merchandise. Also, If the driver goes off the agreed upon route or is driving in a reckless fashion an immediate notification is sent to the office via e-mail.

With the application of RFID and Geospatial technologies corporations can track and manage their Inventory anywhere in the world at real time speed preventing losses and theft.

To implement a new system such as this a consultant who understands the technology and its application is definitely necessary. Also required, would be a server to run the different versions of software and to manage the data, a customized RFID System and Geospatial Software such as ArcGis Enterprise. GPS tracking hardware installed in the fleet of trucks and the associated tracking software from providers such as Navtrak is also essential. Last but not least, trained personnel to collect and analyze the constant stream of data would be needed.

With the combined implementation of RFID and Geospatial Technology a corporation can upgrade from simply tracking fixed assets to tracking, monitoring and managing assets in motion anywhere in the world in real time at the push of a button. The ROI with this project’s implementation will surpass the initial investment in a matter of months in the form of increased profits due to the elimination of internal and external theft and the lowering of one’s insurance premium. While the initial outlay may seem cost prohibitive, the overall results will be a net savings, and in many cases some unintended benefits such as improving fuel efficiency and having a positive impact on the environment by going green.
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