Supply Chain Management
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
- 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.