If your business has an inventory to manage, you probably already know how challenging, time-consuming, and tedious it can be to spend time scanning barcodes and logging items manually. If you’re still doing things the old-fashioned way, it’s time to make a change.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking tags are revolutionizing warehousing, retail, shipping and logistics, and any area of industry in which tracking the movements and location of shipments and items is necessary. RFID tracking offers a range of inventory management benefits that old-fashioned barcodes simply don’t. They improve visibility, reduce labor costs, and are easier to use. Let’s take a look at some of the ways RFID tracking can make your inventory management processes more efficient and effective, for less money.
Know What You Have — And Where It Is — At All Times
One of the biggest benefits of implementing RFID tracking in your inventory management system is the greatly enhanced visibility RFID tags offer. RFID tags can store quite a lot more information than a standard barcode — about 100 times more.
A barcode can only store about 20 characters’ worth of information. An RFID tag has enough memory capacity to store all of the information you might possibly need about a shipment or item, including lot and serial numbers, manufacturer, size, vendor, quantity, expiration date, location in the warehouse or on the production line, location in the supply chain, and basically any information you’d want. Depending on what you need from your RFID tagging system and how much you’re willing to spend on equipment, you can get RFID tracking tags that relay the geographic location of your shipments in real time, monitor the temperature conditions of your perishable shipments, and more.
It’s also much easier to read RFID tracking tags than it is to read barcodes. Barcode scanners need a line of sight to the barcode in order to read it — you have to hold the scanner right in front of the barcode in order to collect the information in the code. That means that if you have a shipment of multiple items that each have their own barcodes, you won’t have much visibility into that information without unpacking the shipment to get line-of-sight access to the barcodes.
RFID tracking doesn’t require line-of-sight access — the reader merely needs to be within a certain distance of an inert or passive tag to activate it and collect the information it contains. Active tags, which contain their own power source, can broadcast the information to the reader themselves. That means that you can collect all the data you need from a shipment without the need to open anything up, or even spend the time to search for an exterior barcode and scan it — RFID readers can instantly collect the information even as you’re receiving the shipment in your warehouse. Once the shipment has been checked in, RFID trackers can help your staff keep track of exactly where it is in the warehouse, so your inventory is always right at your fingertips.
To be sure, there are some startup costs involved with implementing an RFID tracking system for inventory management. RFID tags are more expensive than barcodes and the readers, cabling, and equipment you’ll need to get started can cost up to $3,000. Once you have the equipment, the tags themselves can cost anywhere from five cents to $15 each, depending on what features you need from them.
However, you’ll save a lot more in the long run on personnel costs. A shipment that may have previously taken several workers multiple hours to log into inventory can be automatically logged in with RFID readers, so that you can have just one or two people checking all shipments in and out. You could also enjoy savings in the form of fewer lost shipments and less shipping damage, especially if you use RFID tags that collect GPS data, temperature data, or shock and impact data during shipping. This information can be invaluable when it comes to strengthening your supply chain and improving your shipping processes.
RFID tracking is the wave of the future, and it can revolutionize your inventory management processes. Know everything you need to know about a shipment at a glance, streamline your warehousing processes, and more with RFID tracking tags.