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The time factor plays a key role in the process of getting a product from its manufacturer to its point of sale. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a new technology that significantly increases the efficiency of this process chain. With RFID, data are transferred without physical contact, and in addition it helps in positively identifying shipping units. In an instant valuable information is recorded and utilized on an international scale. Here is an example to demonstrate how it functions in practice. The process chain begins with production and continues by way of a central warehouse onto the retailer. In the manufacturer's warehouse, goods are prepared for distribution to retailers. Without RFID, order picking of mixed palettes for delivery to departmental stores or supermarkets can be extremely time consuming as it requires a lot of individual steps, most of which are manual. In future, processes that now have to be carried out by hand will function automatically based on RFID. The key to RFID technology is the RFID transponder which can be affixed to boxes and palettes during the production stage. Communication between transponders and RFID readers is fully automatic. The moment transponders come into range, readers stored at various points in the sorting or order picking process register the electronic point codes. These data are immediately transferred to the central logistics and merchandise management system. Within seconds, the goods delivered are compared in detail with the goods ordered. Even transport and sorting in the warehouse can be automated in the future as RFID tags also indicate where each product belongs. The faster the goods can be made to leave the warehouse, the more efficient the process.
Processing incoming goods by today's methods is quite labor intensive. Likewise is the case with warehouse management, sorting and positioning of goods. In the incoming goods area, RFID is set to fully accelerate the processes in the future. The fully automated reader can register the relevant information as the goods enter the gate. A single reader is capable of registering up to 40 RFID transponders in one second, which could mean a time savings of several minutes for each shipment which is a major processing cost effectiveness. As the merchandise reaches its destination much faster, both manpower and means of transport are utilized more efficiently. In the warehouse, high shelves can be equipped with RFID technology, which will automatically indicate to the operator the storage position of each product. When the employee sorts the goods in the correct place, confirmation is given by a touch screen monitor. This way, RFID ensures that the goods are always in the right places and taking inventory cane be as simple as pushing a button. RFID allows trade and industry companies to track goods, the path they take and their location at any given time throughout the supply chain, from anywhere in the world. Handling incoming goods in stores is currently just as labor intensive as the incoming goods are handled in the distribution centre. Easy accessibility, up to date and relevant information is essential to ensuring that a product is available at the right time at the right place. RFID can simplify this process since at all times staff will be able to quickly locate palettes and cartons. The moment the goods are removed from the warehouse, RFID readers register the changes in the transponders. The merchandise management system books this movement of goods and the information in the system is kept up to date. Precise and current data at anytime and anywhere help products make their way from the manufacturer to the point of sale quickly and easily. At the same time, they provide the perfect basis for keeping the goods on the shelves at all times.
Keywords: RFID, Radio Frequency Identification, Transponders, RFID readers, Radio Frequency, supply chain management, warehouse management, merchandise management system, inventory, RFID tags
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