Logistics personnel across the globe have been trying to find a way to better manage their pallets, bins, totes, and all other types of containers. Returnable Transport Units (RTU’s) have been stored in remote corners of warehouses, storage trailers, or a who-knows-where location only to be overlooked and written off. They are replaced time and time again by brand new units. Life as an RTU is much like that of the relief pitcher. They go ignored until they are needed, then they become the most important element in the operation. On the bright side they do get to hang out with all their buddies just sitting around waiting to be called up from the bull pen, or storage trailer out back. The difference is when the Manger of the baseball team needs a reliever he just picks up the phone and rings the bull pen. When the warehouse manager needs RTU’s he has to go searching remote areas of the facility many times resulting in a wild goose chase, a PO request, and a phone call to purchase more.
In a time where logistics personnel are Under Heavy Fire from the company execs to cut costs and make the process more efficient, an immediate solution is to decrease or eliminate the cost for RTU’s. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), specifically the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) flavor, is being used to manage the stock of RTU’s with great success. UHF is the choice of most because the read range is greatly extended and capable of reading multiple tags at once. A very simple process of affixing a durable tag to the container or pallet and mounting readers in strategic locations, most often called choke points or gateways, allows proper tracking and locating in a time of need. Ultimately, UHF RFID eliminates the need to purchase more transport units when there are plenty to choose from in the facility. In addition, centralizing the data (location and identification information) eliminates the communication failure between shifts. Essentially, giving authorized users access to the data collected when they were not in the plant. Without an effective tracking system word of mouth and memory is the only method used to locate RTU’s. When everybody knows, everybody grows.
Choosing the hardware capable of meeting the needs is the key. Flexible, rugged, and most importantly reliable equipment is needed in any warehouse environment. Flexible to meet the changing needs of YOUR organization, rugged to withstand YOUR environment, and Reliable so YOU can concentrate on YOUR business. Using multiple readers on one high-speed processor allows instant redundancy and a broad read range capable of picking up fast-moving tags so the operation moves more rapidly and cost efficient. This also allows the configuration of multiple choke points or gateways which can be used to pin point the exact location of stored goods.
Incorporating a UHF RFID system into a warehouse can be a simpler process then you realize and is common practice in today’s tough economic environment. Total Cost of Ownership is minimal and the results can improve your business processes significantly. This enabling technology is viewed by warehouse personnel and CFO’s as a source of insurance and comfort. The competition is fierce and ever-present so adopting a traceability program isn’t a matter of if, but when.
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