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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Using RFID for Inventory Management

RFID inventory management system is an effective way of tracking your production, orders, deliveries, and sales. Unlike the traditional barcode, scanning an RFID tag does not require a direct line of sight.

As such, using an RFID inventory system guarantees ease of reading, convenience, and high levels of security. This article analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of using RFID tags for inventory management. 

How RFID Inventory Management Works 

RFID inventory is designed to automate your record-keeping and eliminate the need for physical monitoring of stocks, sales, and orders. It requires that you have two critical components:

  • An RFID Reader
  • An RFID Tag 

An RFID tag comes with a memory that enables you to store all the details about a specific product. Some of the common details included in an RFID tag for inventory management include batch numbers, price, date of manufacture, and expiry date among others.

Once you attach an RFID tag to specific products, you will then use an RFID reader to capture the details and update your data system. This way, you will be able to track your stock balance, manage your orders, and monitor deliveries. 

RFID Tags Security – How Safe Are They?

While RFID tags offer immense benefits on inventory management, they also have several drawbacks. One of the primary disadvantages of RFID systems is security uncertainties. There exist fears that cybercriminals can hack the system and access private information. 

However, the security of RFID tags can be enhanced by encrypting the data stored in them. Additionally, standards and regulations set by various countries/regions guarantee security to all users. 

Nevertheless, you must confirm the data encryption capabilities of a tag before buying it. This way, you will be guaranteed that your data will be safe from malicious individuals. 

Other security measures that you can use with your RFID inventory management systems include:

  • Password Protection. This involves using a pin or password that prevents people from using a fake RFID tag to access your private data. However, you should combine this with the encryption feature. That way, there will two barriers, thus more security. 
  • RFID Blocking Technology. This technology blocks RFID signals from getting out of the tag when it is not in use. The application of RFID blocking technology ensures that no thief can intercept the signals without your consent. 

While you can choose one security measure for your RFID system, a combination of many measures will guarantee more success. As such, you should consider combining two or three security barriers for enhanced data protection. 

Advantages RFID Inventory Management

RFID inventory system digitizes your RFID inventory system which saves you on labor costs. It also helps in data collection and management. Here are the primary benefits of using an RFID inventory management system:

  • Reduced Labor Needs. When using an RFID system, you will cut your labor needs by more than half. An RFID reader can read tens of RFID tags within minutes! Additionally, it sends the data in an existing AIDC system for ease of monitoring your stocks. 
  • Easy to Use. Unlike barcodes, an RFID reader does not need a line-of-sight with the scanner to perform optimally. This feature makes it possible for you to read many RFID tags simultaneously. Additionally, it will save you time since you will not need workers to turn boxes/products to align the tag with the reader. 
  • Improves Supply Chain Management. RFID software is linked to a data management system thus enabling you to get real-time information about specific products. As such, you can be sure that you will make your orders before your stock runs out.
  • Enhanced Security. If you’re running an organization, accounting for assets such as Lorries, generators, and other big assets can be a challenge. However, an RFID system can help you circumvent the challenge. Attaching an RFID tag on the asset gives real-time information about their locations. 
  • Not Easy to Destroy. RFID tags are constructed to withstand a relatively harsh environment. They can be customized to work optimally in different environments. Additionally, the substrate used (primarily plastic & hard shells) is tough and cannot break easily. 
  • Better Storage Capability. When compared to the traditional barcode system, RFID tags can store more information. This feature makes it easy for you to store details that help in tracking and management of your inventory. It can also be linked to a data management system for real-time inventory updates. 

Disadvantages of RFID Inventory Management

  • Expensive Scanners/ Inability to Use Smartphones as Scanners. Unlike barcodes, you cannot use a phone to scan an RFID tag. As such, you will need to either get a fixed or remote RFID reader to complete your inventory system. This can be capital intensive for small businesses, which will be prohibitive. It becomes particularly more challenging when you make lot of deliveries that requires the drivers to have a scanner for each trip. 
  • Quite Expensive to Set Up. RFID tags are more costly than barcodes. As such, you will require more resources to buy the tags & readers and establish an effective data system software.
  • Requires an Infrastructure Overhaul. When you want to establish an RFID inventory system from the scratch, you will require IT experts to install the necessary software, affix RFID tags, and integrate all the systems to run seamlessly. Additionally, you may require to update your RFID system once in a while, which will be costly. For example, if you start real-time asset tracking, you will require to integrate GPS and cellular data to complete the system.

While the application of RFID tags in inventory management offers tangible benefits, you need to streamline your systems to reduce the outlined drawbacks. This way, you will be sure of reaping maximum benefits from the system.

Why Use RFID Inventory Management System

Like we’ve indicated, RFID tags have unique features that guarantee an effective inventory system. It helps manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to track their stock and manage their orders.

Even better, an RFID inventory system allows you to customize them and seal all security gaps that may have exposed your business to criminals. As such, investing in an RFID inventory management system is necessary and offers unmatched benefits in the long-run.

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