Radio frequency identification is one of today's fastest growing technology sectors. From credit card companies to security firms, every market sector is incorporating RFID technology into their modus operandi. But how do you integrate radio frequency identification technology into your business when you don't know where to start? Consider the following ten best practices tips to make sure your RFID implementation is a success.
Compare Company Requirements to RFID Expectations
Prior to choosing a supplier and implementing RFID technology within your business, it is imperative you conduct a thorough investigation into your company's RFID requirements and compare those requirements to your expectations. A simple web search will provide with claims like "un-hackable", "clone-proof", and "real-time tracking". While some of these benefits might be exactly what your business is looking for, it is crucial you clearly identify your RFID needs and evaluate those needs against RFID claims you read online.
When everything from implantable RFID chips for humans to micro-chipped pharmaceuticals are being discussed online, you need to temper your expectations against the actual needs of your business. This analysis will help you set measurable goals for your RFID implementation to ensure expectations are met.
Business Operation Analysis
Just as you must analyze your RFID requirements, so too should you analyze your business operations prior to implementing RFID technology. Understand which of your procedures can be significantly improved and which activities will see the least benefit. This is a multi-departmental exercise. Management alone cannot make this determination; everyone from your logistics team to your sales and IT teams need to be party to this analysis.
You wouldn't ship a new product without appropriate documentation for the end user. Neither should you implement RFID technology into your business without developing requirements documentation. Multiple factors need to be considered when creating your requirements documentation including regulatory compliance issues, security analysis, access to information, tag-type, data storage (in-tag, in-house, cloud-based), and RFID maintenance. Integrating RFID technology into your business isn't like downloading a new software tool; each aspect of your RFID project needs to be carefully documented.
Installing RFID technology requires a complete analysis of a prospective site. Are there other technologies currently in place that could interfere with signal transmission? Consider factors like wireless routers, headsets, or even signal-emitting keyboards. Where will antennas be placed and will RFID readers perform properly in all locations? By conducting a thorough site analysis and testing everything from tag types to signal strength, you will help to ensure your RFID implementation is a success.
Your business may require multiple technologies for an RFID implementation. Don't expect a "one size fits all" rollout when incorporating RFID technology into your business. RFID chips, barcodes, and print tags may all be needed. Be prepared to team multiple technologies together to ensure your coverage is complete and your goals are achieved.
Choosing the correct tag technology is critical for RFID victory. Tag performance and reliability can be affected by everything from environmental factors to surface adhesion. Analyzing the types of surfaces tags will be adhered to, the environmental conditions (extreme heat/cold), and whether tags will be embedded or adhered to a surface will influence which tag technology is best for your business.
Developing a best practices policy for an RFID rollout includes determining where data will be stored. Will you store data in the cloud or will you opt for in-chip data storage? Are there compliance issues your business faces that will affect your data storage decision? A professional RFID consultant can clarify your options and offer advice on the best solution for your specific business type.
You might be surprised to know that developing a cable strategy is another crucial component of integrating RFID technology into your business. Understanding which cable lengths perform best, which types of cable offer the least chance of signal loss, and which locations are best for cable connections can all influence whether your RFID execution is a success.
Every aspect of your RFID rollout needs to be tested. Can each of your team members easily manage the software? Will readers and antennas work properly regardless of temporary obstructions i.e. a forklift in a warehouse environment? To ensure your system works flawlessly, test your system utilizing multiple scenarios (busy workloads, rush projects, new staff trainees, etc.).
To ensure your RFID operation achieves a favorable outcome, your team should conduct an overall analysis of the project. Review roadblocks your team members encountered, decide whether data offerings were everything you expected, and review exactly what your cost savings were over time.
Developing an RFID implementation best practice strategy requires multiple components be in place. Working with an experienced RFID consultant ensures no factor is overlooked and your success rate is high. Will this be the year you integrate RFID technology into your business?