RFID sensing and monitoring are the next wave

By combining RFID’s track and trace capabilities with sensors, users are getting more data and value than ever

<p>Founded in 1971, VDC specializes in providing technology executives with the market intelligence they need to make critical business decisions with confidence. Core products and services consist of a large portfolio of syndicated research reports, custom research and consulting engagements, and tactical marketing support services.</p>

Founded in 1971, VDC specializes in providing technology executives with the market intelligence they need to make critical business decisions with confidence. Core products and services consist of a large portfolio of syndicated research reports, custom research and consulting engagements, and tactical marketing support services.

in the News

Panjiva reports May has a bounce back month for global trade activity
Where are West Coast ports at moment of truth for SOLAS?
project44 heralds API transaction milestone
FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index hits a five-year high, but 2017 concerns loom
Weekly diesel price average remains unchanged
More News
By ·

One of the emerging stories in the RFID market is the convergence of technologies around RFID. “Sensing and monitoring is beginning to take hold,” says Drew Nathanson, director of research operations for VDC Research Group, a Massachusetts based technology research firm.

In these applications, the RFID tag is doing more than just keeping track of the location of an asset in real time; it is also now capable of managing and monitoring the status of assets that are critical to operating a business, including the environmental operating and storage conditions as well as how effectively that asset is being utilized.

Right now, Nathanson says the most common application in the field combines a temperature sensor with an RFID tag. The early adopters have been industries like fresh produce and chemical that transport temperature-sensitive products. “But, there is a range of sensor technology beginning to emerge that will allow you to monitor moisture and humidity levels, shock, PH levels and volatile emissions or gases,” Nathanson says.

For example, in the commercial aerospace industry one maintenance provider uses sensors to track the temperature and humidity in storage areas where canisters and other sensitive parts are stored. Instead of sending in a technician to get a status update, the system receives a constant flow of data. If the temperature or humidity deviates beyond a safe operating range, the system sends a real-time alert so that it can be addressed.

As with the overall adoption of RFID, making this possible are lower tag prices and more robust software. “An active tag with an integrated temperature sensor used to be $50 and it’s now $20 in volume,” Nathanson says.

“If you use a passive tag with a printed battery or a passive tag that wakes up the sensor when it’s read by a reader, you can get the price of a to $2 or less.”

In addition to monitoring conditions, the information being collected by these systems can be tied to business intelligence and analytics software to help identify bottlenecks in processes, to keep a repair process on track by managing an asset and to track whether scheduled maintenance or calibration was performed on a tool or part so that it’s ready to be used when it’s needed.

For example, the asset management system of one manufacturer using RFID is tied to the company’s ERP system. It keeps track of hot parts that are needed in the facility to complete jobs. When a hot part is read by an RFID reader at the receiving dock, the system automatically directs it to the workstation where it’s needed.

“As companies get familiar with the technology, there’s a crossing of value chains,” says Nathanson. “The system is implemented to track inventory. But there’s also a value chain for a component going into a finished product. That extends the investment in the RFID solution.”


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

RFID · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo