From high-value jewelry to industrial gas cylinders, library books to surgery sponges, and gambling chips to linens, RFID technology has transformed inventory and supply chain management. The increased visibility and greater accuracy of RFID technology with its item-level serialized identification and the freedom from line-of-sight read requirements helps to more effectively allocate assets, control costs, and satisfy customers.
RFID technology in libraries makes life easier for visitors and librarians through faster checkout, easier returns, simpler inventory, and extra security. Many libraries around the world already use this market-leading solution, including the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University in Lithuania, and the Munich Public Library in Germany. The 3M™ Library RFID Solutions, for example, help libraries effectively manage their circulation and collections, while providing convenience for their customers.
RFID enables better control over assets through increased visibility into their location, and reduces the cost of replenishing stolen, lost or broken items. Improved visibility also leads to better asset allocation and utilization, decreasing unnecessary inventory and lowering capital costs.
RFID enables high-speed identification of documents (up to 700 items per second), track and trace of documents, increased workforce productivity and reduced operational costs. NXP-based document tracking solutions can even identify documents stacked very closely together.
Jewelry represents a unique retail challenge because it is small-scale merchandise but high value at the same time. In order to maintain profitability and comply with local laws, store managers must maintain tight control over their merchandise inventory, which can include thousands of different products from multiple global suppliers. Inventory taking in the past was a time consuming prospect that removed personnel from the sales process and involved unnecessary handling of delicate products. Item-level tagging of such merchandise with RFID, on the other hand, supports product track and trace from factory to distribution center to store floor in a convenient, cost-effective manner.
The use of RFID within supply chain applications has greatly improved product visibility, because now item-level tagging is possible. Item-level tagging provides increased visibility into the whereabouts of goods, whether they are in a case, pallet, truck, or container. Increased visibility supports reduced shrinkage and greater control of the supply chain process, particularly in the area of multimodal transport. In the warehousing, shipping and receiving of RFID item-level-tagged goods, RFID readers installed at entrance and exit portals, and mounted on vehicles, have helped automate many business processes. The technology has also helped users improve inventory management and product track and trace.
Gas Cylinder Logistics
Many gas refining/distribution companies own several million gas cylinders and RFID helps to better track those assets by automating inventory management, supporting easier asset maintenance, providing hazardous materials management, and increasing the supply chain efficiency. The increased visibility into asset location allows for greater control of valuable assets, reduces cost, and mitigates risk.
The healthcare vertical market comprises several applications in hospital and home environments. For example, surgery sponge tracking with the use of RFID offers a reliable safety procedure, ensuring that medical personnel do not leave sponges inside patients after surgery. Other applications include the calibration and authentication of disposable medical devices (such as blood measurement cartridges), and automatic coding of blood measurement disposables.
RFID-enabled gaming chips offer security, anti-counterfeiting functionality, and acceleration of the chip counting process. Gambling tables with built-in RFID readers allow facility managers to continually track individual chips and associate these chips with the gamblers who received them.
Using RFID to track clothing (such as work garments) or linens allows laundry owners to optimize workflows, ensure adequate stock levels, and reduce inventory losses. An RFID reader can read the RFID-tagged items inside full laundry bags as they pass by, eliminating the need for additional, manual handling.