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Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology makes use of communication through electromagnetic radio waves, to swap data connecting a terminal and an electronic tag. This is connected to an object to improve identification and tracking (Bhuptani & Moradpour, 2005). The entire RFID system comprises of battery assisted passive tags, an antenna and readers for processing of data. Further, the RFID system transmits data through a portable transmitter.
RFID technology is used in the expanding business application for tracking and managing supply chains. This technology has gained a lot of popularity in supply and chain management because of the improvement in efficiency of inventory tracking and management. It has taken inventory concept to a higher level by reducing theft, fraud and has instead enhanced the process of product recall. RFID has also gained prominence in health care systems, defense and security, manufacturing and animal tracking systems.
The main areas of the application of RFID technology are in the transport and logistics department, especially in shipping, freight, and management of yards. Additionally to Shepard (2005), further notes that many organizations have appreciated this technology because it has a positive impact on the business value and efficiency. To meet mandates, many companies are conducting pilot studies to gain experience of the RFID technology. The United States Section of Defense and Wal-Mart are some of the institutions that have realized the importance of RFID technology in improving the effectiveness of their businesses. Both groups require their vendors to adopt this technology and ensure that tags are placed on their shipments.The spread and adoption of RFID is in its early stages in supply and chain management, which is a time consuming process. Companies that embrace this technology should do it smoothly and slowly (Bhuptani & Moradpour, 2005). Learning about this technology and adopting it takes time. Before making it a reality, companies should first ensure that they have resources to accommodate the RFID, and be in a position to tell if they are to benefit from it. In most cases, organizations wait to see the impact of adopting this technology. This approach is also risky since RFID implementation takes time with a myriad of lessons to learn.
Advantages of RFID
The foremost advantage of RFID is that the technology is extremely efficient. Since the technology uses microchip cards, they do not require the naked eye to be deciphered. Instead, the battered assisted tags can be read through plastic, wood or the human body since they have been installed with sensors. Hunt & Puglia (2007) explain that the sensors used by RFID are quite efficient since they can track and relay “real time” information to the readers. As a result, the use of RFID helps in reducing or avoiding human error, and provides quick access to information.
Another vital advantage of RFID technology is that the tags are less susceptible to breakages since they are embedded or securely placed within the objects of use. This makes it easy to use RFID technology in harsh environments such as high temperatures or even exposed to chemicals without any damage. When utilized in animal husbandry, RFID technology helps farmers in providing vital information on their health, age and vaccinations.
Although the initial costs of implementing the RFID is higher than the barcode system, on the long run the return on investment (ROI) is much higher. This is because the use of RFID in defense and security firms is more efficient because it cannot be replicated, thus increasing the security of a product (Bhuptani & Moradpour, 2005). Besides, the use of barcode scanners has consistently failed to provide security in jewelry shops, hence the need for RFID tags that are installed at exist doors.
Disadvantages of RFID
Although RFID systems have been found to be efficient in various fronts, the overall costs of installing RFID are exorbitantly high. A complete RFID comprises of a reader, microchip, antenna and radio transmitter, hence making it relatively expensive than the barcode reader. This has made it almost impossible for the small and medium enterprises to afford and install the gadgets in the premises (Bhuptani & Moradpour, 2005).
The use of RFID radio waves to transmit information has been found to be wanting especially with heavy machinery around the vicinity. According to Shepard (2005) devices such as mobile phones, walkie-talkies and forklifts easily interfere with radio waves transmission, hence making it difficult to track information. As a result, retail outlets such as Wal-Mart have faced numerous cases of fraud in spite of the millions of tags installed in their shops.
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The RFID technology has been associated with tag and reader collision where numerous tags are confined in one area. For instance, the RFID reader may fail to recognize incoming data in cases where multiple tags are read at the same time. When numerous tags are confined in one area, a lot of readers overlap is bound to occur, resulting to signal interference (Hunt & Puglia, 2007).
A complete Implementation of RFID is a tiring process, which should be approached with clear planning because it has distinctive advantages to a business. According to (Hoffman, 2008), each section of an organization should be well evaluated to determine the areas where this technology can offer an added function. Deploying RFID requires economic and business analysis, which is a time consuming process. The outcome is projected to solve many of the problems that this technology faces, and the cost is expected to reduce thus making the adoption a viable investment.
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