RFID bridges the gap between physical and digital worlds to create unprecedented efficiencies and competitive advantages.
“Digital Transformation” is the latest tech-related buzzword to take hold in the press and in boardrooms around the world. The term means different things in different markets; but in general the idea of digital transformation revolves around breaking down barriers between the digital and physical worlds. In some cases, that may mean transforming paper-based information into digital data; creating digital avatars of physical machines or equipment in order to better monitor or control them; creating a more interactive online environment for customers; or linking more physical objects to the network.
In many of these applications, RFID can play (and in some cases, is playing) a critical role in bridging the gap between physical and digital worlds, so computer applications and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create new and unprecedented efficiencies, as well as competitive advantages.
While lots of assets and machines are getting “smarter” in that they have more onboard computing power, many objects must be retrofitted in order to create a digital presence. Both active and passive RFID tags can serve as a first step toward digital transformation by linking these objects (anything from a surgical instrument to a drill pipe to an expensive tool) to the network.
Working in concert with other complementary technologies like sensors, RFID helps ensure companies are able to link to every item, product or asset they want to track or communicate with. According to a recent column on the topic at RFID Journal, RFID enables companies to collect vast amounts of data.
“It’s not the only way to collect information without human involvement and at a low cost—video, robots, wired sensors and other systems will clearly play a role—but low-cost RFID tags can be placed on the vast majority of things companies own that have no power source and move around. That allows businesses to vastly improve the way in which they do business,” wrote editor Mark Roberti.
Roberti also outlined what he sees as the three stages of RFID-enabled digital transformation:
First, companies must be able to identify, track and manage all physical objects in order to break down the barrier between the physical and digital world – and passive RFID is the only way to do that for items that have no onboard power source.
Second, companies want to know the state of things in the real world. Using IoT sensors, companies can monitor the status of the items they are tracking. Both passive and active RFID sensors can provide the type of data that these organizations are looking for, while also maintaining existing asset tracking capabilities.
In the third stage of digital transformation, computers can take control of objects in the real world. Using active RFID, companies could give access to certain tools to specific employees. AI solutions could use sensor data to discount goods on the shelf that are about to expire or automatically make other types of stocking or inventory decisions.
Finally, outside data sources and big data analytics can be used to optimize operations based on information from RFID-tagged items.
You can learn more about how Xerafy is already enabling these early stages of digital transformation by reading some of our case studies that involve RFID tool tracking for aviation MRO operations, including an installation at Hong Kong’s HAECO, as well as automotive manufacturing.