Corporate inventory management is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Not only does it cost companies money in labor, but it can also interfere with daily work due to improper management. Using RFID to help companies manage their inventory can significantly reduce the amount of time companies need to spend and significantly improve efficiency.
“If you build it, it will happen”
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RFID inventory management models have long helped companies that are “RFID friendly” and have shut out companies that have a large inventory of metal-based items. Companies have had to use expensive active and battery-assisted RFID systems to manage critical metal assets, but this did not meet the long-term cost-economy concerns of companies. With the recent rapid development of passive RFID technology, RFID tags for near-metal environments and even direct action on metal surfaces have long been on the market, and the range of companies using RFID inventory management models has expanded.
However, there is a costly step in the initial manufacture and use of tags. RFID tags mounted on the surface of an asset are exposed to the external environment, they are susceptible to intentional damage and are largely subject to natural wear and tear. Many companies have requested an RFID solution that can be seamlessly and invisibly integrated into their products at the time of manufacture.
In addition to inventory management, embedded RFID technology is also valuable for authentication management. financial institutions such as Visa, AmericanExpress and Discovery verify the identity of consumers using instant payment mechanisms in retail and grocery stores by installing RFID in their credit cards. Car manufacturers have also embedded RFID tags in car keys and entered information to unlock and start the car to prevent others from copying the keys and stealing the car. Thus, by installing RFID in assets that require authentication, it is possible to securely authenticate these assets.
RFID embedded in metal
Assets that are embedded with RFID tags at the production stage have a different marketability compared to other products of the same type because of the RFID functionality they already have or semi-have. By producing assets at scale, the cost of embedding RFID tags is even lower than the return to customers who purchase assets with real-time inventory visibility at a later stage.
For a manufacturer that sells thousands of blade servers to financial institutions and large corporations every year, it is important to not only provide customers with RFID-enabled products and help them build database centers that can be deployed with RFID tags, but also to ensure that these tags are not so easily damaged in daily use.
In addition, when the server is sent for repair during the warranty period or recalled for other reasons, the RFID inside the asset can still function as real-time management during the repair or recall phase.
In the past, metal materials have been a challenge to use RFID. However, RFID technology that can read and write on metal surfaces has matured. But embedded in the metal inside the tag still can not read and write properly, or read and write distance is very limited. But now RFID read and write technology inside the metal, embedded RFID solutions have become possible.
Some large companies need to frequently rent or purchase capital equipment, such as laptops, wireless routers and other IT-related items, with RFID access control and RFID-enabled trolleys to record the change in the number of assets each quarter in real time, this real-time information visibility also reflects the enterprise’s immediate return on investment, and the company’s inventory management unit time from days to hours.
Military and law enforcement agencies must accurately count the number of weapons in their inventory. One of them is to ensure that personnel are properly equipped; another is to keep track of inventory (misplaced or stolen items). When equipment requires regular maintenance, every record must be kept, including the maintenance process that must be performed on the equipment, the maintenance process that has been completed, and so on.
Managers are able to track and manage RFID-embedded weapons in real time and independently. Not only can they know the number of weapons sent for repair, but they can also know the inventory balance in real time to ensure that no weapons are missing. This information can prevent the creation of unnecessary orders, and more importantly, once a weapon is found to be missing, the management can launch a search operation in the first instance.
Common tools, ranging from hammers, screwdrivers and measuring tapes to large equipment such as generators, drills and cranes, are often purchased by companies and then leased to construction companies for the duration of the construction company’s project. As a result, equipment rental companies have important inventory information that can change randomly and is widely distributed, making inventory counts a major challenge. The loss of large equipment can cost the company business. And while small tools are not very expensive, they can also create a business liability if they are lost or stolen.
RFID has been used for several years for tool tracking management, such as RFID-enabled toolboxes and truck tracking management systems. This method is relatively simple, that is, to install an RFID tag on the outside of the asset; but such installation can easily make the exposed tag vulnerable to damage or even vandalism, if the tag is embedded in the tool can eliminate this concern, embedded in the asset tag also becomes part of the tool itself.
Privacy and security and manufacturing costs
As with many products, some special features are optional, but are designed into the actual production. Embedded RFID tags are no exception. The same holds true for the production cost of the device in mass production. The manufacturing cost of the special construction that the customer specified asset has is almost negligible compared to the manufacturing cost of the asset itself. If the customer requires the product to be RFID-enabled, the tag provider can program it to go into production immediately at the customer’s request. If the customer does not require RFID, the product is produced in the same manner and the RFID tag embedded in the asset is completely invisible to the customer.
The information in each RFID tag is different. Many systems use the same standard Electronic Product Code (EPC) as the basic method for RFID identification of the corresponding asset. Additional product information such as product type, product storage number, serial number or any other information about the product as well as the manufacturer can be encoded into the tag’s user memory.
There are several methods available to prevent unauthorized personnel from reading, writing or changing the information stored within the RFID tag. The tag memory can be locked using several layers of passphrases.
In addition, the information inside the tag’s user memory can be coded so that the information is meaningless to unauthorized reading or writing.