RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Tags) in Packaging Overview
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Imagine going to a retail chain where you fill your cart with items ranging from toothpaste to tool sets and not actually checking out at a counter. All you do is roll your shopping cart past the scanner and all items are totaled and your debit card automatically takes a direct hit. All you have to do from there is load the car and drive home. No waiting, no hassle, no lines. In Rheinberg, Germany people don't have to wonder about this concept. They have it now. It is a prototype store where RFID's are being tested. People from all parts of the world are going there just to see how the "wave of the future" is working, and it sounds as if retailers and manufacturers are more than pleased. See www.wiredmag.com
RFID is the big buzz in packaging. You can define RFID as a radio frequency identification device. This device can be about the size of a piece of rice (or smaller) and can emit a signal that enables a package to be tracked as a single item from the packager, to the shipping source, to the warehouse, to the retailer, to the shelf, and eventually to the consumers shopping cart. RFID's are the future in technology that retailers need and manufacturers want. From these tags, retailers are able to determine how much of a particular product is on their shelves and how many are in crates waiting to be displayed or where they are in transit. Retailers and manufacturers would also actually have the potential to research consumer shopping habits by using RFID tags, such as how long a customer holds a product in his hand before placing it in the cart or returning it to the shelf without buying it
RFID's cost a little more than bar code labels but they will save money in the long run. With in-store theft being almost impossible and never having to do an actual inventory, just to name a few advantages, financial gains are obvious to the retailer. Eventually, all vendors will have to be using these devices if they want their product available to the public in large chain retailers that are strictly RFID compliant.
Although radio frequency technology has been around for decades in closed loop manufacturing applications, it is relatively new and rapidly evolving for supply chain applications. As a result, relatively few vendors possess hands-on experience with operational systems. What resources do currently exist will be spread very thinly as everyone scrambles to meet Wal-Mart's and the Department of Defense's deadlines on requiring RFID technology for cases and pallets on items from their major suppliers. There may not be enough existing capacity for all the consulting and software help manufacturers are going to need. As anyone involved with implementations in the real world can tell you, the processes affected are too many and the overall complexity too great for RFID to quickly transform the supply chain. The transformation will happen gradually.
There are numerous web resources on RFID's. It would benefit any retail packaging company to be on top of this coding frontier. Manufacturers are going to want radio frequency identification devices on their packaging to help market their product to retailers.
If you are in need of Radio Frequency ID engineering or equipment, many consultants and manufacturers are promoting themselves as RFID experts. Always ask to see a working installation before signing on with anyone.
According to USAToday, The Social Security Administration has cutting edge RFID plans. Within the next few months, the SSA will begin phasing out its existing bar code system for tracking paperwork moving towards a RFID system that is expected to really improve order fulfillment accuracy. They have built special tunnels equipped with RFID readers to be used at both the shipping and receiving portals of the warehouse. Their idea is to have shipment data updated automatically and in real time. System Concepts of High Point, North Carolina, was contracted to design the new system.
Over the next five years, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is going to have a huge impact on any business or enterprise involved in the production, movement or sale of physical goods. RFID is already being adopted by international retailers, including Metro Group and Tesco in Europe and Wal-Mart, Target and Albertsons in the United States; by leading manufacturers, such as Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Unilever; and the US Department of Defense.