Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a popular conversation topic within the identification and labeling industry. As the world moves towards “smart” as it relates to just about everything, your product and service offerings need to keep up in order to remain profitable. Nowadays, consumers love having all the information they could possibly need right at their fingertips, and RFID allows you to provide just that.
Computype has devoted a lot of time and resources towards diving deeper into RFID because we recognize and believe in its importance and prominence today, and even more so in the future. Since RFID is still a newer technology, we are often asked a lot of questions about it. One question that stands out in particular is, “can I create value for my customers with RFID?”
Let us be the first to tell you, the answer is ‘yes!’, and the possibilities are endless. In this discussion we will articulate some of the ways utilizing RFID creates a competitive advantage and adds value for your customers.
1. Consumable Maintenance
RFID is commonly applied to consumable products. Consumables are products that can only be used a limited number of times.
Think of a razor. The handle on the razor can last for years, however, the consumable part of the razor, the blade, needs to be replaced quite regularly.
In a lab setting you are likely to be using more valuable consumables such as reagents, and RFID has proven useful for reagent inventory management. Labels can be encoded with an expiration date which can be monitored on your interface each time the label is scanned. Some labs have begun incorporating RFID writing modules into their readers to track the number of remaining uses per pack. This type of information can be tracked by the interface and alert an automated inventory management program when it’s time to order more.
RFID can hold all the information about the entire life of a product. It records manufacturing details, when, where, how many and how often the product is being purchased or used. All of this can provide useful information to the manufacturer in regards to consumables by letting them know how much they will need to produce enough product for customers.
Too often companies overstock on consumable items in fear of running out during a sudden spike in productivity. Many consumables have expiration dates and can end up wasted if more are purchased than needed. RFID eliminates that problem by tracking the usage and expiration of consumable products so you can move towards leaner manufacturing and offer customers a product with equal value and a lot less waste.
2. Product Authenticity & Availability
Consumables aren’t the only items that need to be tracked in a facility, products should be tracked throughout the entire manufacturing process. This not only streamlines systems by allowing for real time inventory management, but provides proof of a product’s integrity.
Similar to consumables, the inventory of your finished and WIP inventory can be tracked using RFID. Storage locations and shipping dates can be recorded to the RFID tags in addition to the production information allowing you to plan purchasing and production accordingly all while providing end customers with access to verification of their product.
For example, in tire manufacturing, tires go through numerous steps which are currently tracked using vulcanization barcode labels. Some companies are beginning to incorporate RFID into those barcode labels allowing them to be tracked faster, more accurately and with increased data storing capabilities. With RFID data can be added to the tire's label during each step of the process, verifying which process occurred where, when and with what materials.
When these items reach the retailer or end customer, if for whatever reason they are hesitant regarding the integrity of the product they can give it a scan and gain access to all information regarding the product’s creation. This creates value for your customers by eliminating any doubt they may have in the integrity of your product and allowing them to rely on your product always being in stock.
3. Easy Access to Information
Customers don’t like being limited to paper, booklets, or human-readable information. Embedding and integrating necessary information into products directly will create value in the form of convenience and improved communication with your customers.
Since RFID can store more information than a barcode, important information such as safety information or reordering advice can be added to the chip for access by the customer. It’s also possible to have the chip reference information in the cloud or an external database so important up to date information can be accessed.
RFID is providing easy access to information that used to be time consuming and difficult for customers to obtain, and that is the ultimate value you are providing your customers with RFID. With the influx of technology everywhere, consumers are less likely to buy from someone who can’t immediately offer the information they need, because they can go where it’s right at their fingertips.
When a lab technician can simply scan the label on their reagent pack to find out how to order more they gain value from the convenience of the experience. Or, when a tire manufacturer scans a label and is notified of a change in legislation after being brought to an external database they may feel assured that they have such consistent communication from their suppliers.
Use RFID to create points of differentiation between you and the rest, so you can focus on continuously increasing the quality and value of your products and services. This technology is only growing, so stop and take some time to determine whether this would be beneficial for both your business and your customers.
To learn more about the benefits of RFID, contact us.