Why is Item-Level RFID Essential to the Department of Defense?
Over the past few years, we’ve become all-too familiar with hearing about issues in the global supply chain. From empty car dealerships to shortages on toiletries, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for logisticians everywhere. And while in some cases even a lengthy delay in shipping can be absorbed, to those who defend our nation, these delays in logistics are unacceptable.
One way the Department of Defense can streamline its internal supply chain is by item-level radio frequency identification (ILRFID). This technology enables tagging at the individual item level, not just container- or pallet-level, allowing singular assets to be uniquely identified and tracked. This gives companies real-time visibility into their current inventory on hand and where each asset is located at any given time, which is of considerable use given the supply chain issues faced by many these days.
In the past two decades, the DoD has used ILRFID to upgrade its logistical and equipment tracking systems more and more. From ensuring Security Forces personnel are adequately armed while on patrol, to inventorying all materiel every year, it is clear that the DoD is all-in on ILRFID.
Why does it matter?
When the military faces delays in the supply chain, it often results in lengthy delays in mission readiness. The Defense Department’s newest fifth-generation fighter aircraft, the F-35, has faced numerous setbacks over the past decade with one of the most recent at least partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing global supply chain delays. Because of these setbacks, block 4 is now scheduled to finish a year later and nearly $1.9B over budget. This delay could impact the mission readiness of units set to receive the next generation aircraft, resulting in a higher-than-expected operations tempo for another unit elsewhere.
When time is of the essence, as it often is in the military, ILRFID becomes essential for a few foundational reasons:
Because passive RFID can provide information swiftly by wirelessly scanning multiple items at the same time, it frees the logistician from manually scanning barcodes and allows them to focus their time on more essential tasks than inventory management.
Since passive RFID responds wirelessly, logisticians can track inventory in real-time, allowing commanders to make informed decisions based on current supply.
By responding wirelessly, RFID provides a quicker, more accurate picture of inventory while reducing human error. In 2017, RFID Journal noted that the use of RFID can bring inventory accuracy to 95% or better.
Finally, the most importantly aspect of why ILRFID matters to Defense suppliers – Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) requires its use. This makes sense when you read that branches mandate all materiel is inventoried every year.
What does this mean for you?
Implementing ILRFID is challenging. As with any new process, there is always the possibility for human error during set up. Issues arise if a label is printed with incorrect information or placed on the wrong item. However, Odyssey specializes in working with defense suppliers and can help your team implement a specific solution to fit your needs!
See which item-level RFID tagging solution is the best fit for your business, and get in touch with the experts at Odyssey to learn more.