RFID Inventory System
RFID – Radio Frequency Identification – A Brief History
The RFID inventory system seems commonplace these days, with many products now carrying RFIG tags, even if we, the consumer, don’t always spot them. Whilst it feels like modern technology, it has actually been around for over sixty years, initially being used during World War II to identify planes. It didn’t become a commercial possibility until 1973 when the first RFID tags were patented, and finally became a commercial reality in 1990 when the first UHF (Ultra High Frequency) readers were invented. In 2004, the technology gained commercial respectability when Walmart invested heavily in RFID programs.
The cost of the tags that you attach to the product you wish to track, has been a contentious issue. Initially cripplingly expensive, by 2016 sanity prevailed and tag costs dropped to 7-15 cents. This is expected to drop to 5 cents or less as the technology continues to evolve.
Today, RFID is here, it is proven and many companies now find it saves them a fortune.
What could it mean for you?
RFID and Stock Control
For manufacturers and retailers managing large quantities of inventory, a RFID Inventory management can usher in a breath of fresh air to an otherwise onerous data-entry process. RFID operates via a radio frequency identification system, enabling remote communication of inventory information with up to 99% accuracy.
RFID vs Barcodes
The distinct difference between a RFID tag and a barcode is a RFID does not need to be held up to a scanner to be read; the information is sent through an antenna attached to a microchip whereas a barcode must be scanned to enter the product’s information into your inventory software system. So, simply passing RFID tagged goods through a goods inward doorway (with antenna fitted) can book them into stock.
Benefits of RFID Inventory Tracking
Conducting a physical inventory count can entail going through boxes and racks and handling a lot of products. When using RFID, a physical inventory or inventory audit can be done with everything in its place, speeding up the process and decreasing the labor costs and disruption to the regular flow of business. The wireless technology can even transmit through some walls (though not concrete or cinder block). And products don’t need to be removed from boxes to verify physical counts.
When filling orders, products can be located quickly by simply calling up the information in your inventory software system. The removal of the human factor increases accuracy. Businesses can also trigger reorders automatically as the physical count for products drop to reorder levels.
Increasing demand drives innovation in technology. With RFID tracking software, each item is serialized and counted by a scanner bearing an antenna. For retailers, the technology adds a layer of security as it tracks the movement of merchandise throughout the facility and provides valuable feedback about shopper behavior, allowing the seller to arrange product to optimize sales and minimize theft. To this end, RFID has proven to be an effective means of minimizing inventory shrinkage.
RFID Inventory Management Software
RFID is customizable and can be configured to work with most inventory software solutions, like SOS Inventory. Businesses that carry extensive inventory are likely to benefit from RFID tagging. Physical inventory updates are instantaneous, providing accurate inventory numbers at all times as inventory moves in and out of the facility. The technology can be customized for unique locations or multiple areas for monitoring.
To convert to an RFID inventory management system, the business must first acquire the RFID generator, printer, scanner, and portal track software. Each item must have a RFID label attached to it. In most cases, it will replace the barcode, but the barcode should not be blocked, as there may be exceptions.
Both mobile and fixed readers can be installed on site; mobile readers may be used to perform a search for items and fixed ones read products as they come within vicinity of certain points of the facility.
Labeling everything is a huge job, but once complete, the business is better equipped to control inventory and reduce shrinkage. There is little to teach employees about logging inventory as it is done automatically. As with all big technological changes, it will take time for most retailers to shift over to RFID. The potential costs savings over time promises a competitive edge that can soften any discomfort experienced in the transition process.
Whether your business operates with barcodes or RFID inventory systems, SOS Inventory will provide you with effective inventory control features that are easy to implement and invaluable for business growth.