Case Study: RFID Technology – The Future for Logistics

Industry: Logistics

Business Needs

As the global economy has slowly been mending itself since the recession, supply chain businesses are increasingly concerned with improving the efficiency of their operations in order to go forward and remain financially stable through the good and the bad times. To contribute to such efficiency advancement, nowadays barcode tags are gradually replaced by RFID/Beacon powered by Bluetooth which has presented a rapid evolution and adaptation in our world of connection technologies.

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) uses radio waves to transmit read and captured information stored on a tag attached to an object.  A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within direct line-of-sight of readers to be tracked.

RFID/Beacon tag increases the visibility of inventory and assets and, ultimately, enables supply chain/logistics enterprises to run their businesses more smoothly.

The existing system with barcode label has a number of obvious weaknesses below:

  • Barcodes must be scanned manually, which costs lots of time and labor force.
  • Scanning activities are impacted by various elements such as environmental conditions like lighting, the shape of the packages (flat level, etc.).
  • It is impossible for real-time inventory tracking:
    • Relocated packages, materials, goods among pallets cannot be tracked automatically inside warehouses. Besides, mistakes of manual calculation for statistics on managing these items are hardly avoided.
    • Packages are tracked manually when moving from stage to stage such as materials gathering to production, finished goods to the warehouse, etc.

 

The Solutions

A project was deployed by FPT Software in order to develop RFID/Beacon tags resolution to replace Barcodes.

Using RFID/Beacon tags

  • The unique tracking number on the Label of each item is mapped to an RFID/Beacon Id tag – OR – The RFID/Beacon Id tag is embedded into the Label.
  • RFID/Beacon tags are stuck to each Parcel/Goods unit before picking up.
  • An RFID/Beacon tag’s information will be scanned by an RFID/BLE Reader then transferred to the Server automatically in real time.

Tracking Parcel/Goods units at Transport Hub

Establishing RFID and Beacon reader(s) at the Transport Hub (inbound & outbound)

  • Parcel/goods will be recognized when they are in the “Read Range”
  • Scanned items’ information will then be transferred to IoT Platform automatically

NOTE: Separated items should be in enough distance from the pallets to avoid wrong recognition.

 

Tracking Materials/Product units on Pallets are storing in Warehouse

  • Real-time tracking a Pallet’s exact location inside the warehouse.
  • Cycle Counting information of materials on pallets which is integrated with IoT platform & ERP system.

 

Tracking Parcel/Goods units on Route

Putting RFID and Beacon reader(s) on Vehicle

  • Parcels/goods will be recognized when they are in a vehicle
  • Scanned items’ information will then be transferred to IoT Platform automatically thought Satellite

 

Tracking Solution Landscape

 

Overall Architecture of IoT Platform

Information about packages, goods and materials will ultimately be transferred to the IoT platform of the system. Then, information will be automatically recorded, analyzed and stored in the database. The IoT platform integrates with the Tracking system Dashboard/DB Center and other tracking systems in order to keep them work fluently. Below lists the benefits of the IoT platform in this case:

  • Easy to integrate and manage devices
  • Export various types of reports by integrating with AWS Quicksight
  • Read and set the device state at any time
  • Provide authentication and end-to-end encryption
  • Support HTTP, WebSockets, and MQTT- a lightweight communication protocol specifically designed to tolerate intermittent connections

 

Benefits

RFID/beacon tags can solve almost all weaknesses of the existing Barcode system.

  • Increase asset visibility: This solution helps businesses to digitally manage and keep track of their stock level and movement. It synchronizes in real time with warehouse management systems and other ERP for more efficient warehouse administration.
  • Improve employee productivity: As mentioned, RFID technology does not require employees to be within the line of sight of an item or asset to locate it. They no longer have to waste time on labor-intensive processes like scanning individual barcodes, searching for misplaced tools or equipment or counting inventory amounts. This allows them to increase task speed and project turnover to reduce labor and carrying costs, as well as improve the facility’s overall productivity.
  • Mitigate risk, theft, and loss: The system enables the elimination of human errors and oversight – things that take significant time to fix.

 

Technologies

RFID and Beacon, IoT

 

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