Supply Chain Management

RFID technology can connect all phases of the supply chain, from resourcing and manufacturing to inventory and distribution. Whether your business needs to identify and manage raw materials, manufactured goods, or products in transit, RFID creates real time information links that speed production, improve quality and streamline delivery.

Supply chain management typically includes five major components:

  • Planning - Planning includes developing a set of metrics to monitor the supply chain so that it is efficient, costs less and delivers high quality and value to customers. RFID operations may enhance the planning process, giving planners information on the time it takes to transit the entire supply chain or segments of that chain, environmental conditions encountered along the way, identifying bottlenecks or labor-intensive points in the procees, and traffic delays along planned delivery routes or along delivery channels, (ship, rail, air, truck, etc.)
  • Sourcing - Sourcing means finding suppliers to deliver goods and services needed to manufacture your product. It also includes pricing, delivery and payment processes with suppliers. RFID data can be used to create metrics for monitoring and improving the relationship between your business and various suppliers, and developing processes for managing the inventory of goods and services you receive from them. RFID data can be used to receive shipments, verify them, transfer them to your manufacturing facilities and authorize supplier payments.
  • Manufacturing - Manufacturing activities are those necessary for production, testing, packaging and preparation of products for delivery. RFID data can be used to measure quality levels, production output and worker productivity. Data can also be generated on environment conditions during the process, and time in transit along the way, so manufacturing supervisors and managers can identify potential bottlenecks and improve manufacturing processes.
  • Delivery - Also called "logistics," delivery operations involve the receipt of orders from customers, coordinating operations in a network of warehouses or storage facilities, and managing carriers to get products to customers, as well as invoicing system to receive payments. RFID data can be used to track products in the delivery system, and provide real-time data on transit locations, routing, and even losses en route due to damage or theft.
  • Product Returns - Supply chain management also must account for product returns, meaning receiving defective and excess products back from customers and supporting customers who have problems with delivered products

Your total supply chain may extend outside your immediate organization. For example, a supply chain may include receiving RFID-tagged raw materials or finished products from suppliers, adding components and updating RFID data, and sending them to yet another RFID-enabled manufacturer for processing, to an RFID-enabled warehuse for storage, to an RFID-enabled retailer for sale to customers, or even directly to a customer.