Debunker Counters RFID Myths

You’ve heard all about RFID: It’s scary; it’s friendly. It’s expensive; it’s affordable. What is the truth? Tom Dziersk, president & CEO of ClearOrbit Inc. (a Supply Chain Execution [SCE] and Collaborative Supply Management [CSM] software provider), is a widely published software and supply chain industry expert. Dziersk has compiled a list of five “myths” about RFID, and provided his explanations of the realities that counter those myths, in an attempt to show that RFID can affordably be added to any ERP or WMS system.

Myth 1: It’s expensive.

Wrong. There are low-cost (<$50k) RFID packaged solutions that offer everything needed for an RFID pilot and vendor tagging compliance, including middleware software, RFID readers and RFID tag printers. These systems leverage an existing ERP or WMS, so integration costs are dramatically reduced.

Myth 2: It’s inexpensive.

Wrong. Though RFID software is affordable, the hardware devices that users are required to purchase to enable RFID label management and tag burning can be pricey and varied, depending on a) the environment they’re used in, b) how many devices you need, c) the read range and speed tags, and d) if you need to read multiple tags. After the tag burner devices are in place there are the tags themselves to consider. RFID smart labels cost $0.50 to $1.00 each.

Mth 3: RFID will replace bar codes.

Wrong. RFID and bar codes will live side by side in the supply chain for years to come. While certain transactions will be executed as goods pass through RFID portals, other operations will utilize workers scanning bar code labels. But adding RFID to legacy barcode operations does not require a tear-out of the legacy software and the implementation of a new end-to-end solution. RFID can be layered-in on top of existing ERP or WMS solutions, without disruption to the ERP or WMS system.

Myth 4: RFID requires a separate system to store all of the tag data.

Wrong. Although RFID tags can generate hundreds of reads each second, the use of smart filtering technology and business rules allow the business transactions enabled by RFID to be stored in a current ERP or WMS system. ERP was designed to be the primary system of a company’s transactional data; building a separate bolt-on RFID database and attempting to synchronize the tag data to an ERP system on the back end is a recipe for disaster.

Myth 5: My suppliers will never be able to comply with my RFID tagging requirements.

Wrong. Collaborative RFID printing technology exists today to allow suppliers to burn RFID tags per exact customer specifications provided over the Internet. Suppliers simply place an RFID label printer on their shipping dock, connect it to their internal network, and log into a customer printing Web page. The RFID tag formats and data stored on the customer’s ERP are sent via the Web to the supplier’s printer, ensuring 100% tagging compliance, with zero software investment required by the supplier.

Find out more about ClearOrbit at http://www.clearorbit.com.

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