Radio-frequency identification technology, better known as RFID, is incredibly popular in the warehouse industry. The concept is simple: a small RFID tag is attached to each pallet. Special devices can read the information stored on these tags, allowing the pallet to be tracked wherever it is.
Unlike barcodes, the device doesn’t have to be pointed at the tag at all and can read tags from several feet away. This is just one of the many reasons why warehouses are making the switch to RFID technology. Here are a few of the other ways your warehouse can improve its pallet tracking by incorporating RFID technology in your warehouse tracking system.
It Provides a lot of Information
RFID tags can do more than just provide identification for a pallet. The tag can actually hold around 2KB of information. That may seem like a very small amount, but it’s actually a lot of basic text. While a barcode usually has no more than 12 digits that identify it, RFID tags can include information like pallet size, weight, origination, final destination, etc. Once the pallet has reached its destination, the tag is removed and can be reprogrammed for use on another pallet. Other types of pallet identification are one-use only—new barcodes, for example, have to be printed for every new pallet.
Automatic Inventory Modification
One of the biggest advantages of using RFID technology is in receiving. Because an RFID device doesn’t have to be pointed at the tag, the device can be set up automatically to read and log any tag that moves past it. Warehouses set up an RFID reader by each receiving dock, and as a pallet goes past, its tag is automatically read and the information logged in the warehouse’s inventory. There’s no longer any worry that someone will miss scanning a pallet. The time it takes to scan and log pallets can be dramatically reduced. Another device can be placed at each outgoing dock to track pallets leaving the warehouse.
Because the RFID tags can be dynamically changed, it’s much easier to keep track of where all of the pallets in your warehouse are. When a pallet is moved to a different area, its warehouse shelving information is updated. Then it’s easy to check the master inventory system to see where a pallet is. The warehouse can even be covered in RFID readers to allow for real time tracking—an interactive map can show the location of every RFID tag in the inventory, even those being moved.
A Secure Supply Chain
If the manufacturer tags pallets with an RFID tag before they even leave the factory, it’s easy to track every stop a pallet makes before it reaches the customer. This allows for much more accurate information to be sent to every warehouse and trucker between the origination and final destination. It can also be used to guarantee food really did go from farm to table or that products aren’t being sold past their expiration date.