Item level RFID and its far reaching impact
Last year, we wrote a couple of blogs discussing challenges with item-level RFID and different solutions companies, researchers and manufacturers were utilizing to overcome them. We also wrote about the increased adoption of smart labels as it relates to the Internet of Things and sectors outside the DoD, particularly with retailers. These two topics actually go hand-in-hand really well. As adoption increases so will challenges. We’ve ensured that our software is built such that it can absorb new changes and challenges seamlessly, creating a streamlined user experience. For those using the technology outside of DoD compliance, other, more creative solutions are needed.
Let’s start with retail. An item-level RFID inventory solution can be invaluable to a store looking to ensure they never run out, or overstock, inventory. The challenge is that a tag/reader system can be expensive for stores with multiple locations. To battle this, clothing retailer F&F is working to cut down on the man-hours it would take to scan each tag, balancing the price of the system by removing the cost of manpower going forward. Their solution is certainly out-of-the-box, but the logic is tight. Imagine you’re walking down an aisle, casually browsing cardigans, when suddenly you see a six-foot tall robot come strolling by. No, we’re not talking Terminator-looking robots; more like tall vacuum cleaners. These autonomous robots are equipped with scanners that can read tags in a 360 radius several times a week, ensuring accurate data capture.
Another interesting article we came across brought up the idea of using item-level RFID on a smaller scale to keep track of items in an office. The writer said that he was contacted by a business manager who wanted to keep an inventory of everyday office supplies like computers, monitors, chairs, etc. The writer suggested tagging each item as well as the doorways to the rooms they were located in. He envisioned a scenario where an app on a reader would bring up a list of items in a room after the tag in the doorway was scanned. The reader could then be waved around and tell the manager if all items were present or not. Sounds great, right? Well the issue, and the point of the article, is that no such app exists; at least not on the level this man was looking to use it. So while there aren’t apps available for smaller-scale, item-level tracking, we have to assume that could be coming down the pipeline sometime soon. If radio frequency identification technology, particularly the passive kind (due to cost efficiency), continues to grow in popularity, we could be seeing all kind of advancements that allow more and more people to track assets easily.
It’s important to know, however, that while robots are neat and flashy and provide a solution that’s sure to grab headlines, sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference. For example, if you read our blog post last month you saw us comment on a particular solution to WAWF being renamed to iRAPT. The outside solution was a training manual costing hundreds of dollars and time necessary for employees to read through it. Don’t get us wrong; iRAPT is critical to DoD vendors as it’s the method in which they submit RFID and UID data for compliance purposes. Our point, as you can read in the blog, is that if vendors are using DoD-approved software solutions, such as Odyssey, then nothing changes. Vendors can keep doing what they’ve always been doing.
While we wish we had more autonomous robots walking around the Odyssey offices, we’re confident that our DoD compliance software solutions enables vendors to submit this information electronically by marshaling unique identifiers, providing management and incorporating data within MIL-STD 129 R and MIL-STD 130N interior and exterior label compliance. We also know that we’re pioneers in a young and ever-changing industry, and we need to constantly be on the forefront of adaptation.