Whenever new technology arises, people are usually so quick to get on board that they don’t always wait to figure out the kinks before implementing it. While that is a natural part of the growing process for any new system, if you don’t plan for such occurrences then you will invariably set yourself up for failure.
One new technology that is fast becoming popular in businesses is RFID. Radio Frequency Identification is useful in a wide variety of industries where tracking and maintaining inventory is crucial for success. However, making sure that everything is installed correctly can be a problem for some companies, which means that they could wind up spending a ton of money on a system that won’t work properly.
If your business is interested in implementing RFID, then you should know about these common mistakes before you start. Planning ahead is always a good idea, especially when your bottom line is at stake.
Understanding the Process
At its core, RFID technology is designed to make things simpler with regards to tracking and inventory. However, you don’t want to rush off and slap RFID tags on everything without first understanding why you are doing it. The most important thing to remember is that technology is only as useful as the people using it.
One important thing to consider when rolling out a RFID system is to know what to do if problems arise. If tags fall off or can’t get read from a distance, what backup protocols will be in place? Will everyone know what to do in the event of a significant failure?
To better ensure a smooth transition, it’s imperative that everyone, from the hourly employee on the floor to the head of the company knows how RFID works and what it can do (as well as what it can’t). Overall, the goal is to streamline your process and save time and money. If you don’t achieve that purpose after implementation, then what’s the point?
Training Your Staff
Although the basis for RFID is relatively simple, the whole system is rather complex. As a result, it’s important that you bring everyone up to speed on how it all comes together, as well as how to fix problems when they occur.
For example, using a FIFO system is important to ensure that you’re maintaining accurate numbers of your stock, but when you start with RFID, it can be easy to neglect old methods as you assume that the high-tech system will keep track of everything.
Thus, you have to make sure that your staff is trained not only on how to install and read tags but how to talk to the IT guys if there is a problem as well as what channels to go through to ensure that everyone is aware of any setbacks that happen.
Strategizing to the Smallest Detail
When it comes to rolling out RFID, you first have to figure out how you will use it to your advantage. The best way to do this is to ask yourself what the objective is, and then go from there. For example, if you are trying to satisfy your customer’s needs, then that will dictate how you implement RFID to ensure that they are happy. If it’s to save money on your inventory tracking, then you want to make sure that you are using the technology in such a way that you can get a demonstrable ROI; otherwise, the whole thing is moot.
When strategizing, be sure to figure out how far up and down the supply chain the system will reach, as well as who will be using it. That way you can be better prepared ahead of time and start implementing the system on a wider scale in a shorter amount of time.
Understanding the Limits of Technology
It’s easy to think that upgrading your system means that things will automatically be better. However, that is a big mistake on your part if you assume that. Although RFID is far better than other more traditional methods, it isn’t without its faults.
For example, tags can get covered, they can fall off, or readers may not scan things correctly. Similarly, if you have other electrical systems in place that give off a signal, it can interfere with readings. Thus, it’s crucial that you understand these limitations so that you can prepare yourself and your staff on what to do if those problems arise.
The best way to stay on top of things is to monitor when things go wrong and understand why it happened. For example, if your tags are falling off in transit, then perhaps you need to change your handling strategy or placement of the tags so that they stay put. If possible, start with a smaller sample and see if anything goes wrong. Then, once you’ve worked out any mechanical or technological issues, you can scale up as necessary. That brings us to-
Managing Your System Effectively
Another big mistake that companies make is that they try to roll out RFID all at once without testing it first. While that could potentially work, the odds of something going wrong gets exponentially higher if you do things that way. Instead, start with a pilot program and then go from there. What’s important to remember is that each environment is different, so be sure to run as many pilots as necessary to ensure that the system will work for each phase of your supply line.
Overall, when it comes to using RFID, don’t assume that the technology is infallible. Since it’s still relatively new, there are plenty of issues that come with the territory, so while it can be a huge benefit in the end, it could take a lot of trial and error to get there.