The benefits of RFID in intralogistics - some simple examples of the use cases.
Author of the article: Lars Lappe, Sales Manager, Nordic
I'm often asked, what is RFID,
how does it work and what is the benefit of RFID?
Basically RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a simple
thing. The applications, however are almost unlimited. Therefore
the easiest way to describe the benefit of RFID is to concentrate
on the specific use case. In this case, the field of logistics. And
to be more focused I'm concentrating on the area of
RFID supports the delivery and collection of information related
to an object. An object could be e.g. a product, a package or a
pallet. But also a fork lift, a truck, an order picking trolley or
even a person.
In intralogistics RFID is mainly about
- Identification: What kind of an object it is and is this object
known or not? And what variant of an object is in question.
- Inventory: What do we have in stock?
- Locating: Where is the object at the moment?
- Tracking: To where is the object moving to at the moment or
where was it moveing in the past?
- Condition of the object: What environmental influences affected
the object (e.g. temperature, pressure)
RFID gives us the opportunity to get above information from a
distance without having visual contact to the object and store it
in a centralized database to support Industry 4.0. What is the
benefit of that?
For a better understanding below there are some
- The possibility to get the information which products do I have
on the pallet or which products I'm currently packing to the
pallet, speeds up the process of goods-in/goods-out and reduces
sources of errors - even if the products are in cartons and in
outer packings. I'm also able to get information about the product
variant and the condition up to the level of a serial number
without needing to touch the products.
- It's easy to locate a product, a package or object and also to
get information about the location very quickly.
- The movement of products or objects is documented
electronically so it's easy to monitor to which way the products
and objects are moving. For instance I'm able to prevent that the
goods will not be dropped off at a wrong storage area.
- I'll get the information about the environmental influences
that affected my products.
- I can make sure that all the right products are packed for the
- The accurate stock inventory is easily done.
- Easy and fast identification at the gates of subarea. For
instance a truck is clearly identified with RFID and the access
will be either permitted or denied. And there is no need to step
out of the truck or to show a keycard in front of a terminal. RFID
is more secure than a visual license plate recognition.
These are only some examples and the list can be endless.
RFID is using a radio technology. Basically every object is
equipped with a transponder or tag. A transponder or tag is a small
computer chip connected to an antenna. This transponder contains
the information of an object and transmit this information to an
RFID reader on demand.
As with any kind of technology there are some technical
restrictions involved. Therefore the implementation of RFID is
always a project, where you have to analyse your processes and to
evaluate the technical possibilities.
If you wish RFID gives the opportunity to first start with smaller
projects and gradually expand to other areas of use. So no need to
start a huge RFID strategy project at once.