Large retailers such as Tesco and Marks and Spencer have also started RFID projects, and the number of organisations who could benefit from using this technology is continuing to grow. The uses that RFID can be put to within manufacturing companies are impressive: it has the potential to offer a near real-time overview of where all the components or products within a supply chain are at all times.
Using data from their RFID tags, organisations can use this information to get a better insight into their manufacturing processes. Examples of how this information could be used include, monitoring the level of components compared to levels of completed goods for sale or demonstrating how all the stages of the manufacturing process are working.
However, there are two main areas of concern with implementing RFID projects: the first comes from customers who are concerned about RFID data security, as they don’t want to have information on their purchases available to other parties. To allay these concerns, all the information generated by an RFID project has to be stored within a secure database, and the tags should be rendered inoperable once the leave the domain of the manufacturer or supplier.
The second area of concern is that relying on a single powerful IT system in manufacturing exposes the organisation to the risk of IT downtime and data loss. The IT infrastructure responsible for the interrogation and writing of data to the tags has to be very dependable. The impact of losing a few minutes of transaction data can create a complicated inventory nightmare, requiring hours of manual work to correct. The new generation of shopfloor and supply chain applications require companies to re-evaluate the design and lifecycle management of their IT infrastructures.
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