RFID Benefits in Warehouse Management Systems

Improve warehouse efficiency with RFID

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been in existence for many decades but it is only recently that RFID is being increasingly used to its full potential. RFID or radio frequency identification is a system that transmits identity in the form of a unique serial number of a product wirelessly. RFID, a type of Auto-ID technology is used to reduce time and labour and improve real time data accuracy.

Warehouse operations like planning and control of warehouse facilities and systems has become more complex in supply chain. Warehousing is often needed to perform routine logistics operations such as stock storage, order status, paper processes, sorting, cycle counts, loading/unloading and customer service. Poor utilisation of costly warehouse space, manual errors, wrong identification of the product during receipt & dispatch, locating items in warehouse will impact the productivity & profitability which results in organisation’s reputation & losses.

RFID in conjunction with a WMS is an excellent real-time business tool that helps better manage supply chains, covers goods entry, picking, checking, delivery and many other operation flows & increases profit, and decreases the cost by improving visibility into Warehouse management system.

The Warehouse Management System based on RFID will help to improve the efficiency of warehouse management, and make rapid self-recording of receiving and delivery.

RFID in warehouse processes offers:

  • visibility of accurate real-time information
  • fast locating of products
  • possibility to record losses
  • ability to plan product locations strategically

Most commonly, an RFID tag consists of a microchip attached to a radio antenna mounted on a substrate. This technology connects products to the internet for tracking purposes so that information can be shared with businesses across the supply chain. There are two types of RFID systems-active and passive. Passive RFID tags do not have transmitters and simply reflect back radio waves that originate at the reader antenna. Active system RFID transponders (a microchip with an antenna) are placed on products then information is accessed using a reader to pass the information to a computer.

Active RFID tags are typically used for large assets including cargo containers, rail cars and containers that are transported over long distances. Passive RFID tags lack power sources and transmitter, require no maintenance and are less expensive than active RFID tags. In tracking products throughout the supply chain, often active and passive RFID systems are combined to provide gain visibility where products are in real time.

Used with GPS technology, goods can now be tracked while in transit. This can be especially useful in helping to reduce theft as products travel across the supply chain.

Keeping track of the large number of cartons is a very complex as well as time and labour consuming process. However, RFID can be implemented to ease the situation as it can improve information management concerning cargo flow. Usually, read-write equipment is installed at the entry to a warehouse. Every cargo unit is equipped with RFID tags and all the information relating to the tags is stored in the central computer of the warehouse. When the cargo is moved in or out of the warehouse, the read-write equipment registers it and forwards the data to the backend system. This allows the management centre to manage the vast amounts of products going into and leaving the storage, recognise cargo and help with placement of the cargo in the warehouse.

In cases where read-write equipment is placed within the warehouse, all in-house movements are additionally registered in the system. This allows for strategic planning of product locations within the warehouse.

The information that is gathered with RFID and a WMS can lead to significant improvements as the tracking and handling of the products can be done in real-time and with great accuracy. In the warehouse, products are easily located as all product movements are tracked and this information is automatically registered in the system. Whilst stock is accurately tracked valuable information concerning losses is also recorded.

Key Benefits of RFID in Warehouse Management:

  • Smoother running business environments—knowing precisely what and where inventory is, thus reducing out of stock items due to a more accurate real time picture of warehouse is available at facilities.
  • Reduced labour costs by reducing the workforce needed for tracking and warehouse management.
  • Reduction in order entry errors (less manual intervention) & improved employee productivity.
  • Reduces stocking inventory levels and related warehouse space requirements.
  • Provides the information required to implement first-in first out (FIFO) or last-in first out (LIFO) inventory management, which can have a significant positive impact on the company’s profitability analysis and tax liabilities.
  • Instant access to the order database provides the on-the-spot visibility needed to cross dock the incoming material for immediate shipping to fulfil customer orders
  • Access to real time information ensures that the right shipment is delivered to the right dock and loaded onto the right truck.
  • Advanced data capture capabilities, such as imaging, can provide proof of condition for returns records, eliminating potential customer disputes.
  • A quick scan of a RFID tag provides instant verification that the right item has been picked, and the item is instantly deducted from inventory.

A warehouse management system (WMS) based on RFID can collect, transfer, check, and update mass data on daily frequent goods entry and delivery, thus the labour intensity will be decreased, errors like fault scanning, miss scanning, re-scanning in the repeating manual operations can also be avoided. It improves the efficiency and accuracy. With development of the RFID technology, reduction of costs, gradual unification of the standards, decrease of the error rate, the effective combination of WMS and RFID will become one of the key factors to improve the competitive power of enterprises and the efficiency of the supply chain.

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Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.