Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is one of those innovations which, while touted as the next big thing, never seem to quite get that far. Numerous firms have trialed RFID tagging.
Some have abandoned it. Some have stuck with it—but is anyone actually getting a return on investment from implementing RFID in supply chain?
The Signs Are All Good
With prices of RFID tags coming down (although other related hardware and software has not moved much) and renewed industry enthusiasm for the technology, I for one believe it is possible to see a return on RFID investment. Furthermore, I think the following four tips should at least help your company get off to a good start if you have plans to implement the technology:
- Don’t make it stand alone. To get the best from RFID in a supply chain enterprise, you should devise a way to integrate it with your ERP and/or CRM platforms. This gives you more opportunities to capitalize on the visibility that RFID can provide.
- Try to avoid customised development. Implementing RFID in supply chain is far from being a low-budget endeavor, without adding the costs of custom development. Therefore it’s a good idea to try and avoid customisation as much as possible. This will help to lower the total cost of solution ownership.
- Look for opportunities to modify business processes. In order to reduce custom development, you’ll need to look for ways in which you can support your processes with a minimally customised solution. This will more than likely require you to consider process changes. Therefore, it’s important to share your RFID data strategy across internal teams and encourage them to share their insights.
- Share and collaborate with supply chain partners. You’re likely to obtain more return on your supply chain RFID implementation if you can drive efficiencies in collaboration with your trading partners. You should look for opportunities and initiatives that benefit all partners, such as automated shipment verification, for example.
Slow and Steady – The Hallmark of a Winning Technology?
RFID was expected to take off in a big bang of instant success—something that simply didn’t happen. However, technology that takes off slowly sometimes ends up as an enduring success. If you have any doubt about that fact, keep in mind the story of barcodes, which didn’t see widespread use until a couple of decades after their inception. Ironically, it appears that RFID might just follow a similar course in its role as the barcode usurper.
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