As Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) continues to make a positive impression and impact on logistics, manufacturing and retail industries worldwide, one such area of significant improvement and adoption is in the shipment and management of transport and storage containers.
RFID continues to be repeatedly proven as a solution to save time, reduce labour and improve item visibility from production through product delivery – as do the functional benefits of the technology. In the high-value shipment industry, the tasks of quantity, status, inventory, tracking and cost management are not taken lightly – this is how RFID has come to take a very important place within the supply chain niche.
RFID has grown up
Worldwide, shipping yard and port operators are integrating intuitive RFID systems to support customer’s needs; offering a ‘value-add service’ and expediting shipments efficiently. Most site installations include crane, tug and ground-mounted readers to offer a linked solution from container to operator. One latest example of RFID integration is by that of French industrial conglomerate, Daher Aerospace Ltd.
Since Daher’s first-round, and very much early adoption, installation of an RFID system in 2005, RFID technology has matured significantly. Global RFID standards have now been introduced worldwide and new advances in ultra-high frequency (UHF) technologies mean RFID tags can be read through such a varied mix of materials. These are two of the many reasons RFID has reached maturity for the diverse and complicated application of container management – containers come in a wide range of materials including metal, plastic and wood, and a global set of standards allow different organisations to read each other’s tags.
The Daher programme requirements involve RFID tracking of 22,000 high value containers worldwide. The newly integrated RFID solution allows each container to be managed and moved along the supply chain between manufacturing sites, suppliers, the transport provider and Daher.
Data accuracy and insight benefits
Daher, and many other global businesses with a complex logistics function, are using the data-driven benefits of RFID shipment and pallet tracking. Extended supply chains are managed in real-time, losses are prevented, business teams are more insightful, costs are reduced and customers can be invoiced faster. Visibility of each and every container is essential to maintain optimum flow of operations and the chain.
By attaching RFID tags to shipping containers, especially reusable assets like pallets, plastic containers, kegs and gas cylinders, the tags on each item can be reused hundreds of times. Asset tracking and tagging at this ‘micro’ level also assists labour cost reductions by automating routing, receiving, shipping and inventory control applications.
From a data and intelligence perspective, supporting RFID management software platforms allow executives and managers to go beyond capturing and recording tag scans – offering valuable reporting tools such as inventory, transaction history and status reporting to aid decision-making in the supply chain.
The future of RFID in shipping?
RFID as a technology, and its adoption, will continue to grow and evolve – even though it is now reaching a state of maturity and mass-affordability.
Huge organisations such as Daher, IKEA and Walmart are using RFID to eliminate shipping errors, while some businesses are integrating the technology as part of a wider sustainability strategy – recognising the green benefits RFID offers. The future is bright for RFID.
About the author: Nicholas Moores is a professional technology writer for Waer Systems – Warehouse management systems, RFID asset tracking & supply chain software specialists