Hundreds of manufacturers, particularly consumer goods producers and those that sell to the U.S. Government, are already at various stage in their journeys to comply with the RFID mandates put into place by retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the U.S. Department of Defense. While some manufacturers are hopeful in gaining long-term value from their RFID investments, they're still facing significant short-term costs in designing and implementing their systems. One manufacturer (who declined to be named, for obvious reasons) even refers to his RFID mandate as "the Wal-Mart tax."
A common question, both for those well into their implementations as well as those that have yet to take the plunge, is "What's in RFID for me?" Is it just a supply chain mandate, or can it help better manage shop floor processes, automate business transactions and drive further manufacturing efficiencies?
According to Andre Pino, vice president of supply chain solution provider Acsis, RFID-enabled process automation offers manufacturers the following 10 business benefits:
- Real-time, accurate operational data monitoring and visibility.
- Improved agility and responsiveness through end-to-end process integration throughout the supply chain.
- End-to-end process integration through the integration of disparate systems, the elimination of islands of automation and the automation of any "black holes."
- Elimination of lag times among processes and reduction of cycle times for streamlined product movement.
- Reduction in product and process errors and associated rework through the automation of standard processes, which allows human resources to focus more closely on exception processing.
- Automation allows human intervention to be reduced -- or even eliminated -- allowing manufacturers to deal with changing workforce trends.
- Improved information access via insight into execution-level activities and associated performance across the enterprise.
- Reduction in the risk of regulatory, mandated and customer/partner non-compliance by facilitating compliance management.
- Reduction in organizational and logistical complexities and operational costs through simplified and more efficient manufacturing and distribution processes.
- The goal of continuous, bi-directional and enterprise-wide data visibility can be realized, enabling the factory of the future.