What Is RFID? Can It Automate Replenishment In My Customer's Stockrooms?
RFID, or radiofrequency identification, uses information electronically stored in smart barcodes to track and identify inventory items. When used along with eTurns TrackStock RFID software, RFID can be a valuable tool to help distributors and their customers create and maintain an easy-to-use automated inventory management system.
How RFID Works in Inventory Management
RFID tags on items are used to identify an item to replenish, a tool to locate, an asset to identify. The central database knows that a specific RFID tag is associated to the item, tool, or asset.
Distributors can offer their customers an RFID system to accomplish a variety of automated transactions. When an RFID tag is read, it can mean an order should be created. It can mean an item is received at the loading dock. It can mean a bin of material has been consumed, which can then trigger replenishment. The variety of potential applications for an RFID system is nearly endless.
There are two types of RFID tags: passive and active.
Passive tags are simply antennae that reflect the signal from an RFID reader and are used to track close range transactions. They don’t include their own power source but rely on energy transmitted from readers.
Active tags tend to be larger than passive tags and can be read from greater distances.
Active RFID tags have a built-in power source, a battery, and their own transmitter, and typically are used to track items from a longer distance, even miles away.
What RFID Can Do for Distributors
Manufacturers and distributors can use RFID to record when and how many items are used, and by whom. And because the system can record an item’s location, employees can use it to find items quickly, rather than waste time searching shelves for a particular item, tool or asset.
We’ve found that the eTurns TrackStock RFID inventory management software is particularly useful in a digital Kanban two-bin system. When the bin in front is emptied, users scan it past the RFID tower to trigger replenishment before placing the empty bin in a collection point, and the full bin is pulled from back to the front, ready to be used. And by the time that second bin is emptied, the inventory has been replenished, and is stored in the bin in the collection point. When filled, the replenished bin is placed behind the front production bin. And the cycle repeats itself – without the risk of overstocking or running out of inventory.
TrackStock RFID also works with consigned inventory, where it can provide easy reconciliation with a common set of books for distributors and their customers. And it can be set up at the receiving dock, so that when inventory arrives it can be immediately received.
Benefits of RFID
For distributors and their customers, the benefits of using eTurns TrackStock RFID include:
- Automating the re-ordering, receiving, or consumption processes, which can reduce procurement costs by up to 90%
- Eliminating stock-outs, while reducing cash-in-inventory by up to 73%
- Providing continual real-time visibility and monitoring of inventory from any browser
- Virtually eliminating human error
- High return on investment through reducing procurement costs, having the customer participate in the replenishment process, and eliminating manual data entry as well as overstock/stockouts.
Distributors report a 30 percent increase, or more, in same-customer revenue when they offer value-added services like eTurns TrackStock RFID to their customers. Learn more about how RFID digital kanban can be an easy VMI/CMI option for replenishing your customers.
By Rock Rockwell