RFID is a mature technology. However, the strong upward use trend indicates that it still has a bright future. It may be that the creativity of users is propelling the increasing number of uses. Here are ten examples of companies that have solved problems using RFID.
1. Boekhandels Groep
The largest bookseller in the Netherlands had the basic challenge of all booksellers - balancing inventory against satisfying customers with selection. Moving past an intuitive opinion-based approach required data. Tagging books with RFIDs gave the company the basic numbers to start analytics. The case was so clear that Matthijs van der Lely, CEO approved the project without extensive study. With success in the first store, the company has moved on to the rest of their network.
Intel had dual purposes in adopting RFID technology. As a top-tier manufacturer, Intel was seeking the productivity and logistics gains that RFIDs provide. As a technology company, Intel had partnered with MIT to better understand the ecology of smart objects in a modern supply chain. The company has continued to expand RFIDs in its plants and products.
Why have a showroom when you can have a theme park? That was the view of Volkswagen in developing its car-centered theme park, Autostadt, near its Wolfsburg plant. Customers are able to pick up their factory fresh vehicle purchased on site. Each car has a number of customizations and even small gifts, such as umbrellas. Keeping the details straight to deliver the car as promised is a monumental task, well suited to RFID tagging.
4. Dolly's Splash Country
Staying with theme parks, Dolly's Splash Country is using RFID to track something even more valuable than Passats - kids. For two dollars per person, a family can register and receive tamper-proof wrist bands affixed with active RFIDs. If the group becomes separated, the band can be swiped at one of several kiosks that will display other group members on a video park map. Disney was the first theme park to pioneer RFID wrist bands.
An offshore platform needs everything from eggs to replacement parts for production equipment. A large number of suppliers make the needed deliveries early in the morning, just before supply ships leave port. Chevron's parts management system, based on RFIDs, in forcing order. Due the inherent limits of space on an offshore platform, the system will offer even greater benefits in this environment.
6. Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds
The world's largest processor of pistachios and almonds works with 400 partner growers on the inbound side and ships 450 million pounds of products to major retailers in 20 countries on the outbound side. The peak harvest season of six week places a premium on efficiency of receiving, grading, and payment for each of the 425 daily inbound truckloads. RFID tracking makes the process quick and painless, which is critical in maintaining positive relations with growers.
A tree to a forest products company is just raw material inventory. When the decision is made to turn it into a product, each step in the process is time and money. By using RFIDs to track these steps, German forestry company Cambium-Forstbetriebe has streamlined the process. Cambium-Forstbetriebe manages 32,000 acres. For comparison, Weyerhaeuser manages 13 million acres. The lesson is that small enterprises can suceed in implementing RFID programs.
8. Indy Racing League
On the left side of each Indy car, 33 inches from the tip of the nose cone, an RFID transponder rests. The sport depends on these transponders to provide data for fan interest and for timing the races. This technology is part of a system that produces results to a ten-thousandth of a second, the highest degree of precision in any sport. For comparison, a hummingbird wing beat is one hundredth of a second.
9. The Law Office of Fish and Richardson
Our legal system is not digital and depends on paper filed in folders. When the law office of Fish & Richardson P.C. realized the number of non-billable hours that went into looking for the files, they turned to RFID for a solution. They started with the part of their business with the most consistent material and created an RFID track system. The initial results showed locating the files accurately climbed from 35% to 98%
10. Jacobi Medical Center
The main resource for health care providers is patient information. Its availability when interacting with patients at their bedside determines efficiency and effectiveness of treatment. Jacobi Medical Center has made this information readily available through an RFID system linked to laptops. The pilot phase of the project went so well that staff refused to return the equipment when the pilot ended. This force the hospital to straight to full adopting and expanding the program.
The Lesson Learned
RFID can locate an item at a specific time and can connect any data about the item to that time and location. Therefore, any problem that is a matter of time/location/object properties, potentially has an RFID solution. There are few technological limits. Creation of the solution really depends on the ability an individual to clearly define the problem and imagine the solution.