RFID and Automatic Identification Focus: Our Weekly Feature Article on Topics of Interest to those Using or Considering RFID or other Auo ID Technologies  
  - February 4, 2008 -  

RFID News: Smart Badges for Meetings and Events Show Interesting New Application of Wireless – and Offers Hints of Opportunity in the Supply Chain


Goal is to Visualize “Social Networking;” Do You Need a Better Idea with Whom Your Cartons are Meeting Too?



SCDigest Editorial Staff

SCDigest Says:
Having throughput issues? A real-time view of how products are flowing physically throughout a facility might provide some excellent insight.  

What do you say? Send us your comments here

Technology coming out of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology combined wireless with other data collection capabilities to enable a visual view that researchers call “the social network” at meetings and conferences. It’s an interesting application of RFID-related technology, but as with other innovative uses of RFID, it may also offer some ideas for supply chain and logistics managers.

According to MIT, the technology works like this: At an event, attendees receive badges that combine a wireless radio to collect data regarding proximity to other badges and transmit it to a database, an infrared sensor to gather data about face-to-face interactions among attendees, an “accelerometer” to track motion of the participant, and a microphone to monitor speech patterns. At the event, the data from the infrared sensors and special software produces real-time visualization of the event's social patterns.

MIT researchers Ben Waber and Sandy Pentland are interested in “sociometrics,” an apparently rapidly emerging field in which sensors collect fine-grained data during social interactions and use software to make sense of it. At an event, for example, early evidence shows individuals who see there own social patterns are likely to become more social if they see they are having more limited interactions than they realized. Event planners can gain insight about how to improve the event to drive more socialization or activity across different venues.

(RFID and Automatic Identification Article - Continued Below)




It offers some interesting possibilities for conference attendees and event managers, for sure. SCDigest wonders, however, if some of the ideas might also be leveraged for supply chain applications and RFID.

There is a already an emerging trend towards “visualization” in supply chain and logistics software, and some CPG companies are already testing the use of RFID in emerging ways to better understand inventory movement across the supply chain, especially looking for spots of excessive inventory “dwell times” – areas or modes where inventory gets stuck instead of moving to the point of demand.

A similar approach might combine software that could provide visualization of product movement, not only for each SKU but potentially in relation to other SKUs, and might prove very useful. Or perhaps the right level of aggregation would be the customer order, and the insight sought might be what really happens during “batch order picking” or a pick wave release. Having throughput issues? A real-time view of how products are flowing physically throughout a facility might provide some excellent insight.

While to some extent this could be done without RFID, using data from a WMS about task status, only RFID would be able to really provide accurate and real-time data as to actual physical movements. That insight could be used in real-time, or after the fact over some period of time (e.g., a wave or a shift).

It would also be possible to study the interaction of DC or shop floor managers and workers in distribution or manufacturing. Does a supervisor spend most of his or her time interacting with just a small number of associates, with little time spent with the rest? Why is that?

When RFID tagging becomes prevalent, these types of new innovative applications should begin to emerge.

Do you think the real-time social networking concept could be applied to supply chain and RFID? How and where? Let us know your thought at the Feedback button below.

Send an Email