Saturday, October 12, 2013

Optimizing Warehouse Management Systems through RFID Application

In today's business environment determining the level of inventories in real time is crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The process of understanding this critical piece of the supply chain process lays within the functionality of RFID (Radio-frequency Identification Device) along with the existing Warehouse Management System (WMS). The WMS delivers the tracking systems which optimizes supply chain management from the point of shipping up to receiving, picking, and eventually up to put-away of inventories in warehouse facilities. Radio-frequency Identification Device (RFID) is a technology that utilizes smaller computer chips to track items at a distance and offers similar functionality as the bar code or the magnetic strip on the ATM or the credit card. However, the striking edge RFID has over a bar code or the magnetic strip is its potential to detect an items/object at a relative distance from a scanner plus its unique identifier qualities.

My choice for this article "How warehouse automation can be tightened up RFID" is to fully understand the opportunities and challenges posed by technology in shaping today's supply chain management decisions. In this article, the authors described how companies can create optimal WMS while counting on functionality of RFID plus it inherit benefits. The increasing demand for goods and services nowadays create a beachhead for companies to automate their warehouse management so as to response robustly to supply and demand aisle of the economy. With RFID, companies can find solutions to the daunting task of maintaining inventories within comfortable bandwidth and speed up their production operations with reasonable visibility. The article also stated is due to the cloud systems integration and low cost of implementation, RFID can be deployed to deliver a full automation across warehouses and concomitantly improve multiple tasks performed in the warehouse setting. The tasks to be improved upon are: picking items, verifying quantities, validating customers information and identifying locations of stockpile of inventory inside the warehouse.

The RFID functions seamlessly in delivering accuracy at the portal of receiving, inventory control and shipping of goods to and fro multiple destinations within the context of the supply chain management. At the receiving point of the supply chain, the RFID tags are placed on pallet goods as well as individual items and scans both pallet inventories and individual inventory at which the information flow into into an automated system. After the goods are scanned, they are verified against the order quantities, customers order numbers, and the inventory are validated to ensure authenticity. Lastly, the inventory form of transportation is verified to complete the process of check and balance in the stockpile of goods in the warehouse. In so doing, the RFID tags record and update inventory levels by order number, pallet number and item number so ensure accuracy in the system. This process is implemented in the within the WMS to ensure effective and efficient inventories movement across warehouses and destination points.

RFID has gone beyond the utilization of just tags in optimizing WMS to including alternative auto identification capabilities to deliver higher visibility, efficiency along with innovation in the supply chain process. The range of options presented by RFID has given companies the ease to use it to optimize their WMS. These options range from its lower-price features, higher density tags and real-time information availability and sensors. These options have positioned RFID as a strategic tool to deliver solutions to the cumbersome tasks of WMS. In so doing, companies have the capability to catch up with mounting demand from customers in a flexible and effective manner.

The use of RFID has enhance the logistics movement capacity of manufacturing firms and large department chains globally. For example, Walmart, Macy's, Dell, Apple, etc, are capable enough to replenish its inventories in real-time without customers noticing prolong shortfall in a particular commodity from the store shelves. These large companies and even smaller business outfits are counting RFID to reduce the lapse in maintaining a wholesome functioning warehouse facility. The RFID is helping to minimize the number of false reads and concomitantly allowing for proper update of the WMS. From a financial perspective, companies are shifting to RFID because it is smart way through which return on investment (ROI) are maximize due to falling prices of the RFID tags nowadays.

Therefore, it seems much clearer that the advancement of technology is important to the supply chain process and a significant factor in shaping the decisions of companies relative to supply chain management. Companies employing RFID benefits more from greater efficiency and effectiveness on how they execute the control and movement of inventories, goods shipment and response to real-time demands of consumers in a coordinated pattern. The end results of RFID application in the WMS leads to increased sales, accurate forecasting of inventories, increased customer satisfaction and higher profits which builds a distinctive competitive advantage for a company in the marketplace.



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