Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Logistics technology: RFID sensing and monitoring are the next wave, says VDC Research

By combining RFID’s track and trace capabilities with sensors, users are getting more data and value than ever
By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
June 09, 2010

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, the 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

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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!

Recent Entries

Following the lead of its Congressional Colleagues in the House of Representatives, the United States Senate yesterday approved a measure geared to keep federal surface transportation funding intact through the end of December with a nearly $11 billion stopgap fix.

XPO Logistics announced second quarter earnings and the acquisition of two companies, New Breed Logistics, a non asset-based 3PL focusing in contract logistics services, for roughly $615 million, and Atlantic Central Logistics, a 3PL provider of last-mile logistics services, for roughly $36.5 million.

The report, entitled “Outlook for the Domestic Transport and Logistics Market in 2H14 and Beyond,” takes the view that strong freight levels in the second quarter have left trucking companies in a good position: one in which they need to come up with new plans to handle rising demand. But even with that positive momentum afloat, the report observes that there are some familiar challenges intact, such as a lack of qualified drivers and the regulatory drag from the new hours-of-service rules that took effect in July 2013.

Flags of Convenience are a fact of life in the commercial maritime trade, but several European political action groups are worried that they will pose a threat to the Continent’s air cargo industry.

For May, which is the most recent month for which data is available, the SCI is -7.5, following April’s -7.5. FTR said this reading represents a still-tight capacity environment, as utilization rates hover between 98 percent and 99 percent.

Article Topics

News · All topics

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA