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Focus: RFID and Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC)

Feature Article from Our RFID and AIDC Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's OnTarget e-Magazine

- April 18 2012 -


RFID and Auto ID News: The Supply Chain Visibility Tool Kit


From RFID to the Cloud, Technology Support for Turbo Supply Chain Visibility is Here; Now it's a Matter of Resolve to get There


SCDigest Editorial Staff


In our just released Supply Chain Digest Letter on Supply Chain Visibility, we note that the technology barriers to achieving nearly complete, real-time visibility to a company's entire supply chain are nearly gone today.

SCDigest Says:


The real promise of the cloud is visibility-related workflows and the ability to house and manage supply chain data in a multi-party environment.

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But what are the components of the supply chain visibility toolkit?


In the Lettter, we give a brief summary of these tools, which in total provide companies a wide array of technologies to combine in the quest for additional visibility. You can find the full SCDigest Letter, as well as many more resources on visibility, here: Supply Chain Visibility Resources Page.


From the Letter:


Technology has evolved to the point where there is almost no technical limitation today to achieving extraordinarily high levels of supply chain visibility. Most of these technologies have been around for more than a decade. All are being used in visibility systems today.

Auto ID/RFID: Traditional bar coding has been an important tool to increase accuracy and hence visibility for two decades, but RFID has many advantages (automatic readability, no line of sight) that eventually will lead it to dominate the auto ID landscape. "Inlays"(chips before they are put into a label) for passive RFID tags are now down to about 6 cents apiece.

Even lower cost "printable" tags may not be that far off. "X-Raying" a pallet (reading all carton/item tags on the pallet in one pass of the reader) is still a challenge though.

Wireless/Mobile: The growth of wireless technologies and devices from beyond the distribution center floor to other areas of the supply chain is extending the reach for real-time communications and automatic data capture.

Sensors: Technology for monitoring temperature, moisture, etc. have been around for decades, but are now increasingly being tied to RFID and other communications technologies to provide visibility to environmental conditions and changes.

Motes: A small wireless device that when deployed with other motes can form its own communication network by "talking to each other" without human intervention. Motes are often connected to sensors, especially in manufacturing.

Global Positioning Systems: Increasingly sophisticated GPS technology provides a real time view of where a truck, a person, or even a pallet of inventory is in the supply chain. That can enable, among other benefits, dynamic routing in case of delays.

(RFID and AIDC Story Continued Below)




Video: Video technology is now being used primarily in a reactive way (a customer says the order is wrong, supplier shows video evidence the carton or pallet was accurately built). But "video analytics" are coming that will also enable more proactive use of video.

The Internet: Obviously, a broad communication pipe that provides the ability to communicate and share data easily, often with less painful connectivity efforts and potentially even "ad hoc" connectivity.

The Cloud: Related to the Internet, but the real promise is visibility-related workflows and the ability to
house and manage supply chain data in a multi-party environment.

Together, the technical ability to build an internet of things" is clearly here. These tools will also enable a new era of "perfect logistics."


Do you agree there are almost no real technology barriers to achieving near perfect visibility today? Anything missing from our toolkit? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

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