Published Thursday 11th July 2019

Warehouses are a vital part of all major supply chain processes. For those working in the distribution industry, warehouse efficiency is one of the most critical parts of the business process. An efficient warehouse system will not only deliver quickly and reliably, but will ultimately save money, both for the operators and other businesses along its chain.

This importance placed on warehouse operations makes their productivity incredibly important. Thanks to new and emerging technologies, distributors are now able to deliver quicker and better results than ever before. One such technology is RFID which, when combined with other initiatives, can open up many cost-saving opportunities for a range of businesses.

The Technology of RFID

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to identify and track tags which have electronically-stored information. RFID works in a very similar way to the standard barcode, where they can be scanned to reveal information about the product attached.

The key difference, however, between barcodes and RFID is the line of sight. For a barcode to work, it needs to be completely visible for the scanner. RFID, on the other hand, can work without a line of sight. This ability allows them to be seamlessly embedded into objects and be much easier to scan.

Their seamless use is only one of the range of benefits RFID can offer, especially when compared to barcodes. Most RFID tags are capable of storing 100 times more data than traditional barcodes. This increased storage allows for more detail to be carried with items, such as manufacturer, purchaser, expiration dates or delivery times. Most systems can also read up to 200 tags at once, further increasing speed and reliability.

The Advantages of RFID in Warehouse Management

Warehouse management can be a uniquely challenging operation, with thousands and millions of individual parts that need to work seamlessly. With an almost endless flow of goods in and out, it has almost become accepted that human error will lead to mistakes. However, these errors accumulate over time and become a sizeable cost in warehouse operations by the end of the year.

RFID provides warehouses with the opportunity to reduce costs through increased reliability. One of the ways it achieves this is by providing more instant data to the reader. By having all the required information instantly available after scanning, the RFID user can more accurately determine the good’s next course of action.

The primary benefit of RFID systems, however, is their vastly increased efficiency. RFID tags can be scanned much more quickly and efficiently than barcodes, allowing users to work through products at a much faster rate. This efficiency allows for tasks such as stock taking to be performed in a fraction of the time they would have done previously, which could reduce labour costs. As staffing is still one of the main expenses for most major warehouses, RFID has the potential to produce tangible savings for businesses quickly.

Using Technology to Reduce Distribution Expenses

RFID is the latest in a series of emerging technologies that are revolutionising warehouse operations. Recent developments in blockchain have furthered its position as a technology that will become increasingly prominent going forward. When utilised across the supply chain, blockchain can provide unparalleled accountability on goods and services, further increasing warehouse reliability.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is another rapidly developing technology that is now commonplace in many distribution operations. Providing more real-time detail than ever before, IoT is another way of bringing new levels of efficiency and reliability to warehouse operations. With AI technology also leading supply chain development, the potential for warehouses to modernise is more prevalent than ever before.

Here at ERA, we are experts at helping major businesses reduce distribution costs through effective supply chain management. Our specialists understand operations across a range of industries and can work with you to deliver savings in a variety of cost areas. So, if you’re looking to modernise your procurement strategies for long-term savings, why not speak to our team today?