Intralogistics Inventory
Automation with RFID

Inventory automation comes to the warehouse, production facility, and distribution and order fulfillment center, with RFID providing real-time visibility for all inventories of materials, parts, RTIs, and Work-In-Process throughout their lifecycle.

Intralogistics RFID systems improve inventory accuracy and order processing speed, from yard management automation to shipping and transportation. They are used to automate workflows, procedures, and data collection, assisting in the identification of bottlenecks, adjusting schedules, and improving supply chain visibility.

 

Organizations turn to RFID technology to overcome the challenges of barcodes in automating item tracking, identification, and tracing, as well as to increase the reach of their production and warehouse management systems (WMS).

5 Use Cases of RFID Systems for ​Intralogistics Inventory Automation

  1. Warehouse Automation

  2. Returnable Transport Items (RTIs)

  3. Production Logistics

  4. Work-In-Process Inventory

  5. Order Fulfillment

 

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF INTRALOGISTICS INVENTORY TRACKING?


​Intralogistics systems operate in complex environments that come with specific challenges:

  • Interoperability - Intralogistics flows span the warehouse, production, and shipping, requiring sophisticated procedures and systems to integrate with (Supply Chain, WMS, Production, ERP...) both on-premises and in the cloud.

  • Real-Time Data - How to capture the continuous flow of data required to give instant visibility and end-to-end traceability.

  • Speed and Capacity - Automating materials handling and warehouse management necessitates technology that can function at speed and at high capacity.

  • Rugged Components - While barcodes require perfect circumstances to operate, RFID may operate in environments deemed too harsh, such as where dirt or wear-and-tear would make line-of-sight elusive.

  • Global - As supply chains reach globally, the number of stakeholders multiplies, increasing overall complexity.

 

HOW TO FIND THE BEST RFID SYSTEM FOR INTRALOGISTICS INVENTORY?

 

RFID tracking systems deployed in Intralogistics are all about automating data capture in order to reduce workload and increase data accuracy. The whole organization will depend on the data generated to effectively: Control the flow of goods, Adjust stocks in the ERP, Trigger new orders, Locate where the goods are and where are they going, Optimize overall business processes.

Data capture automation employs RFID readers strategically placed at choke points to track the movement of items around the warehouse, production facility, and distribution center:

  • Fixed RFID readers are installed on dock doors, gates, and portals to offer the coverage needed for data capture while not hindering workflows.

  • These read points can also be mounted on forklifts and vehicles, and they can be complemented with overhead and mobile readers, which add flexibility to the workflow by allowing for on-the-spot checks and data capturing.

  • There are turn-key solutions available for particular processes including acceptance, dispatch, check-in-check-out.

  • Data accuracy is achieved by designing read zones with precise positioning and calibration for data gathering over long and/or short distances and at high speed while preventing stray reads.

  • Hardware with embedded software that integrates with both WMS and ERP is available, bringing intelligence to the floor while minimizing change management.

With a variety of cost-effective durable RFID tagging solutions available, all materials, parts, consumables, RTIs, and work-in-process inventories can be identified and tracked at the item or container level:

  • A wide range of form factors will fit every inventory item in terms of sizes and read ranges.

  • Unique serial numbers are a key requirement and can be handled by the manufacturer’s service bureau or encoded using RFID equipment.

  • RFID labels printable on-site will greatly simplify deployment and offer hybrid readability with texts and barcodes.

  • RF performance can be optimized for any surface, including metal, plastic, and wood.

  • Adhesives, hang ties, zip ties, magnets, screws, and other mounting options will provide maximum flexibility and durability in any configuration.

 

AUTOMATING THE WAREHOUSE

RFID solutions help automate every step of warehouse management from acceptance into inventory through to storage location and issuance. Integrated with the WMS, usage data is automatically captured during every workflow and lifecycle and feeds into analytics for better inventory management and purchasing decisions.

Lean manufacturing operations rely on high-performing supply chains for just-in-time supplies. RFID systems accelerate the reception of materials and their registration into inventory. All incoming goods can be RFID tagged at reception or provided with RFID identification by the supplier.

 

RFID tagging takes place for each individual item or can be implemented at container level, using the organization’s identification system and materials typology. The same systems also help accelerate the issuance and transfer of materials, while providing accurate availability in real-time.
 

Warehouse management involves annual and regular inventory audits that are labor-intensive. RFID helps greatly simplify the counting procedures, ensuring effective inventory control.

RFID in Supply Chain
 

TRACKING RTI WITH RFID

RFID offers a powerful solution to tackle common RTI management issues such as shrinkage and asset utilization.


RTIs are essential in manufacturing and intralogistics since various types of containers are used to transfer materials and goods. By incorporating RFID hardware and software into their workflow, organizations can account for the real-time status of an RTI's condition and location.

Hardened RFID tags enable the retrofitting and the source-tagging of any type of RTI, such as pallets, bins, totes, crates, trays, product hangers, and paint shop skids.

RFID for RTI Tracking

RFID IN PRODUCTION LOGISTICS

RFID systems enable paperless material flow management in complex manufacturing, providing process visibility and flexibility. 

Paper and barcodes labels only offer basic tracking and automation features. RFID technology on the other hand enables seamless tracking of all types of RTIs, containers, carts, and components. Production logistics RFID systems help reduce quality errors and enable full traceability by leveraging the data captured to provide real-time visibility into material consumption, record production batches, and monitor production parameters.

 
 

WIP INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

Work-in-Process (WIP) inventory management is essential for achieving a lean manufacturing organization.

 

WIP systems give real-time information to production control systems, allowing them to monitor and notify on every batch and order in process. The parameters are monitored and recorded to document the manufacturing process for quality and traceability.


Furthermore, RFID technologies help with the identification and correction of process inefficiencies. With accurate location management, operations with multiple and vast storage facilities such as in automotive manufacturing benefit from automated product identification and reduced picking time.

RFID FOR ORDER FULFILLMENT

Using RFID in delivery preparation reduces shipment errors, increases customer satisfaction, and enables businesses to offer truly personalized and made-to-order items.


Specialized RFID systems, for example, can handle even the most complex order picking scenarios, such as when multiple different items must be integrated and configured in order to prepare for fully customized orders. RFID will also assist in ensuring that when parts of an order are transported separately, everything arrives at the correct location at the same time.
 

Best-in-class businesses use the data to optimize transportation and logistics, as well as connect with distributors and customers. RFID helps with monitoring logistics from fulfillment to delivery, making shipping crates and containers visible around the world. In the event that something goes wrong, RFID can help safeguard against theft and fraud, as well as track damage, loss, error, expiration, slow delivery, and other issues. Each cargo can be tracked individually for its location and condition at every stage of its journey.

RFID in Transportation and Logistics