What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)?

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an emerging technology that is transforming the way warehouses operate. Many companies, distribution centers and warehouses are using RFID technology to better track and manage the products that are transported throughout the warehouse. With so many companies relying on this new technology to improve their warehouse processes, we feel that it is crucial for you to understand the basics of RFID and what it can do for your company.

What is RFID?
RFID is an acronym for radio frequency identification. In general, RFID is a technology that uses radio waves to identify an item. For the use of warehouse automation, RFID uses radio signals to exchange data between a handheld device and an RFID tag. These tags can hold various amounts of information about a product or item, depending on what the company wishes to include in the tag. The amount of information an RFID tag is capable of storing is an important feature since other tagging systems have a limited amount of information that can be stored in the tags.

How Do Warehouses Use RFID Technology?
While RFID can be used in virtually any industry, it is most common in the warehousing and distribution industry. These types of companies generally see a high volume of products and items come in and out of their facilities and need a system to effectively track the movement of goods throughout the warehouse or distribution center. The RFID tags are read by a handheld device (or bar code scanner and RFID attachment) and the information is transported to the company’s warehouse or ERP system.

RFID has become popular due to its suitability for industrial environments. The system is flexible and can be customized according to a warehouse’s specific needs. The RFID tags are fully customizable and can be programmed so that certain pieces of information cannot be changed or altered in any way. This provides warehouses with some form of consistency, enabling warehouse workers to locate products and product information as needed.

The Benefits of RFID
Warehouse operations have a greater chance of running more smoothly and efficiently when a product or information about a certain product can be gathered quickly. Warehouses employing RFID technology can locate products and information in an instant, alleviating warehouse workers of the frustration of having to stop what they are doing to research information about a specific item or product.

RFID also provides warehouses with increased accuracy. As products or items are scanned in and out of the warehouse, the information included in the RFID tag is automatically updated in the company’s warehouse management or ERP system. This gives companies real-time visibility of information about products going in and out of the supply chain. Having more accurate information about the location of an item, the history of an item, and the number of items in the warehouse will enable companies to be more responsive to their customers’ inquiries and demands.  RFID technology provides companies with the tools they need to run a more efficient and customer-driven warehouse.

As you can see, RFID technology can help you transform your warehouse processes and improve your warehouse visibility. Our product, the Automation Series for Sage 100 ERP (formerly Sage MAS 90 barcoding software and Sage MAS 200 barcoding software), can help you manage everything from basic shipping and receiving to RFID using barcode technology. Contact us today to learn more about how our Automation Series for Sage 100 can help you achieve warehouse automation.

To learn more about RFID and clear up any further misconceptions you may have about the technology, download our whitepaper, “The ABC’s of RFID: Understanding and Using Radio Frequency Identification”.