RFID provides improved security, while increasing business efficiency at the same time
Stock loss is a major issue right across the retail supply chain, from the point of manufacture through distribution to the point of purchase. Loss prevention or improved security measures often mean higher costs, the need for more resources and additional time spent to keep close track of items across the entire supply chain.
When businesses are faced with the unenviable trade-off of higher costs to monitor and track inventory items to prevent or reduce stock loss, they often are resigned to accept stock loss (theft, misplacement etc.). Especially if increased security is achieved at the cost of a positive customer experience.
RFID inventory solutions in supply chain management offer manufacturers and retailers the best of both worlds – improved security right across the supply chain and increased business efficiency. Before RFID asset tracking solutions became widely available and very cost-effective to implement, there was no option for a whole-of-supply-chain inventory tracking solution that worked consistently every step of the way, and provided visibility in real-time for all kinds of inventory items.
How does RFID technology work?
RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to items, objects and people.
A ‘smart’ RFID tag is affixed to an item needing to be tracked. RFID tags come in a variety of shapes, sizes and capabilities, but common to them all is the ability to store information and communicate data such as movement and location back to a central database via an RFID reader.
RFID readers are used to ‘read’ tags from a distance, often with the simple wave of a hand in a packed storeroom full of tagged products using a handheld reader or App-enabled smartphone. In addition, fixed RFID readers or stations are strategically located in say a warehouse or workplace to track the movement of items, vehicles and people in and out.
All the information fed from tags to readers is then relayed to a central location where custom RFID asset tracking software such as RAMP’s Loca.fi stores and analyses a huge amount of data to identify the precise location of valuable items in real-time, as well as providing useful insights to help make more informed business decisions.
How RFID technology improves security
RFID solutions can be implemented across the entire supply chain, or more narrowly such as in a retail chain or single store. No matter the use case, the principles behind RFID as a security measure are the same. One of the overall benefits of RFID technology is ‘visibility’, which means items of inventory can be ‘seen’ by the RFID system in real-time.
Items do not need to be seen literally. Instead, strategically placed static readers can track movement of items past certain points, or the attempted removal of RFID tags without a direct line of sight. Alerts are issued to ensure that action is taken immediately to investigate discrepancies and rectify them.
On a broader scale, if RFID technology is implemented across the entire supply chain, security and loss prevention are improved at every step. The same RFID tags are affixed to items at the point of manufacturing so that their journey through the supply chain is tracked in real time all the way to their final destination and sale.
Improved security AND increased business efficiency
The features that make RFID a great option to improve security, also make it key to increased business efficiency. Loss prevention aside, RFID ensures that retailers know in real-time where all their stock is located, without manual intervention or tedious and time-consuming stock counts. In fact, the speed of stocktakes using RFID allows for them to be undertaken more frequently.
For omni-channel retailers, this is invaluable to place products where they need to be to meet customer demand, easily find products in stores, stock rooms and warehouses, and move products into the channels where customers are ordering them (whether it is in-store or online).
Accurate stock counts and item availability across channels help avoid overstocking and tying working capital up in excess stock, while also reducing out-of-stock situations and helping maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.
Secure an efficient RFID solution for your business
If your business could benefit from improved security and increased efficiency, or a better way to track valuable inventory and assets, talk to RAMP, Australia’s leading RFID specialist.
We’ve been working with Australian businesses for over a decade to design and implement customised RFID solutions for supply chain, inventory and vehicle tracking, retail and a range of other applications across many industries.
RAMP can help you automate and streamline processes to improve efficiency, minimise losses and increase visibility with our locally-based consultants, engineers and software developers.