Planning, evaluation, and scheduling can all be greatly improved when you have data to base them on, but capturing all this data can be both costly and time consuming. Inaccurate employee reporting and infrequent data capture rates can be frustrating and defeat the purpose.
Using RFID and barcode can greatly reduce the time involved in capturing the data and RFID portals can completely eliminate the human element. When hand scanning is used, adding portals at key choke points are a great way to add an “audit” feature. The portals will capture everything passing through and an exceptions report quickly highlights any items moved through the choke point that lack a proper “put away” or “move” transaction in your WMS (warehouse management system) ERP system.
Handheld barcode or RFID readers allow paperless picking and can reduce loading time and improve accuracy. Similarly, automated systems can accelerate the receiving process and allow data to be entered directly in the ERP system against your initial purchase order.
Warehouse functions include receiving, shipping, moving, picking, cycle counting and general inventory management. Shipping late or incorrectly hurts your business and impacts your customer relationships. Even with a great shipping department, mistakes happen. Automation can provide many benefits like RFID portals automatically checking what is going though a dock door against what is on the invoice or shipping manifest.
By embedding RFID tags into employee badges, this tracking can occur automatically without any disruption to the normal work process – a significant cost savings over manual tracking. Alternatively, a touch screen appliance that connects directly to your ERP system requires human input, but can still greatly reduce the cost of capturing this data.
Tracking allows you to know where your assets were shipped to, how long they’ve been out, and when they are due for service. Because no line of sight is required with RFID, simply pointing and waving a handheld RFID reader toward a storage location and holding the trigger allows for extremely rapid cycle counting of tagged items. No more army of IT guys looking for assets once a year.
Recipe enforcement really encompasses three separate type of systems: verify the correct type and/or quantity of ingredients is being added, verify the right tooling is in place before starting a process, or verify that only trained personnel are attempting to start a process.
With increased enforcement and regulation from the FDA and EPA, better traceability is a MUST-have for many of our customers. This requires capturing data throughout the production process to link work in process (WIP) to raw materials and finished goods to WIP. Not only do you avoid fines and get better compliance, a well designed system greatly reduces the production window involved in the event of a recall.
Some customers need access to raw material certification files. The traceability provided by automatic data collection allows you to link the certifications directly to the finished product in your ERP system and get those records to the customer at much lower cost and with complete accuracy.
RFID offers an added layer of difficulty to counterfeiters. Embedding the tag in the product can make it virtually undetectable. Although the tags themselves are available to anyone, your ability to program them with unique information including a serial number provides added security and a way to verify whether a product is authentic.
The more useful data you have at your disposal, the easier it is to forecast sales, set pricing, increase margins, reduce days of inventory, reduce lead times, and better serve customers. The data, used properly, gives you a competitive advantage over those that don’t have it.