Sunday, December 11, 2005

RFID status

Well after 3 years of doing RFID worldwide and seeing valuable and wasteful RFID projects in 13 countries -- here's a couple of quick lessons for finding value.

1. Mandates - they are negotiable! Comply with the standard GTIN/SSCC but limit number of SKUs and limit geography. Also Go to your favorite tag vendor and get them preprogrammed and slap them on! (Or better yet push your cardboard supplier to embed them - a few years out most likely)
(For this phase - do not buy software/readers! and minimize tags)

2. Experiment in a small area (requires readers and software)

Characteristics of a valuable RFID deployment
- usually has high value items
- might include correlation to other data (temperature, humidity, vibration, etc)
- changes behaviour at the edges of your supply chains. I've seen multiple world class retailers deploy RFID and the best area of value is in store ops! (aka change your process)
- Re-use the tags!
- Measure value prop for the new business processes.
If it doesn't make sense -- see Item 1 above -- then minimize costs

-- Check your vendors roadmaps, there is much innovation out there (like temp. tags at 915 MHz) that you should take advantage of if it makes sense.

-- start with middleware independent of WMS/ERP. Work the process (experient, understand, bring in other parts of your org to strategize). Then later buy what you need.

RFID is a game changing technology for those that use it right - unfortunately most people I've seen just comply with the mandates EXPENSIVELY instead of exploring how to leverage the technology into business value.